Jim Messina of Loggins and Messina: up close & personal with an icon

I appreciate the moment. I learned many years ago that happiness is the appreciation of what is happening. – Jim Messina 
We were beside ourselves as we headed to the home of Jim Messina.  There we were 
in Jacy’s silver Toyota Corolla, winding our way down country roads just outside of Nashville, singing Your Mama Don’t Dance and your Daddy Don’t Rock n Roll at the top of our lungs. We may be interviewing country music icons on this series, but we’re FANS of the artists and music first. When you think about the career of Jim Messina, there is a lot to talk about and we couldn’t wait.  His legacy of musical genius spans 5 decades and includes groundbreaking work with Buffalo Springfield, Poco, Loggins & Messina and a stellar solo career that is thriving to this day.  Jim is also the creator and facilitator of The Songwriter’s Performance Workshop where he mentors songwriters and singers. www.songwritersperformanceworkshop.com. While most fans know him as a gifted guitarist, singer and songwriter, Jim Messina is a stellar producer and highly skilled sound engineer with an ear for talent. In fact he got his start in the music business at only 18 as a producer and audio engineer. Born and raised in California, Jim is now living in Tennessee where he has a recording studio in his home. As we made our way through the gates of the farm he shares with his wife, we saw Jim waving us in from his wrap around porch.  We settled into big leather couches on giant wooded frames in his living room and pressed record on an interview filled with the stories of his life, the music he loves, the behaviors he regrets, and the wisdom he has learned along the way. Our time with this generous icon is here for you to enjoy and we think it just might be one of our most authentic interviews to date.  Let us know what you think!

Bobby Tomberlin – Grammy, CMA, and ACM nominated songwriter: Blake Shelton, Diamond Rio, Faith Hill, Dolly Parton

Be a good hang. Don’t bring dark energy into the room and be kind to people. Love the music so much, it loves you back.  – Bobby Tomberlin 
We’re kicking off 2022 with a trip to Curb WORD on Nashville’s famous Music Row.  This iconic songwriter’s think-tank is owned by music industry giant Mike Curb and we’re here for a rare conversation with Bobby Tomberlin,  one of the most successful songwriters in country music today. Curb WORD is a place where the energy is always flowing and as a songwriter on staff there, Bobby is expected to bring his A-game every single day, to stay connected and inspired, so that he can write songs on demand for superstars. And that’s just what he does.  A lifelong singer and guitarist, this Grammy, CMA & ACM nominee got his start in the music business when he was only 11 years old as a DJ for WLVN, his little hometown radio station in Luverne, Alabama. Bobby’s interview is full of entertaining stories about his move to Nashville in 1990, how he taught himself to play guitar like a pro, the stories behind hits like “One More Day”and heartfelt wisdom about what really matters when it comes to success in country music, and in life. 

Their First Time on the Radio: Sara Evans, John Schneider, Crystal Gayle, Jamie O’Neal & more

For this episode, Jacy and I got to thinking about our favorite answers to the questions we always ask during our interviews with country music icons. We decided to put together a “best of” episode that featured singers and songwriters answering the question: tell me about the first time you ever heard yourself on the radio? It’s a big deal when you hear yourself coming out of the car speakers…or even an old-school kitchen radio. This very special episode is our gift to you for the holidays, featuring Sara Evans, John Schneider (aka Beau Duke), TG Sheppard, Aimee Mayo, Sonny LeMaire of Exile, Jamie O’Neal and more as they share the excitement of the thrill of hearing their song on the radio and realizing that their dreams of success in country music just might come true. Leave a review and let us know your favorite “firsttime on the radio” story! 

Frank Myers : Grammy Award-Winning songwriter, Lonestar, Crystal Gayle, Vince Gill

“You and I” just stuck out to me as a title, so I just wrote it down on a piece of paper with some other titles because I was really just learning how to write songs. – Frank Myers 
From a career that began as a singer with a guitar on stages large and small at only 11, opening for Porter Wagner and Dolly Parton, to touring with Eddie Raven, to songwriting superstardom, Frank Myers has lots of stories to tell. In this interview, the Grammy winner invites us into his home on a golf course, just outside of Nashville where light shines through giant windows and a cozy deck is the perfect place to watch the sunset. There’s even a man -cave downstairs, where the walls are lined with recording industry citations and #1 plaques. Make no mistake about it,  this is a music man who has worked hard for 40 years to get to where he is today, and right now, he is soaking up that joy with a new Christmas single called If Everyday Could Be Christmas. You’ll hear how The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Elvis influenced his life and the stories behind mega hits like You And I, I Swear, I’m Already There and My Front Porch Lookin’ In, along with some wisdom about counting your blessings when you make it big.  For a tutorial on how to approach success in country music with faith, humility and gratitude, hit that download button. 

Jamie O’Neal : Grammy Nominee, ACM & Billboard award-winning artist

When I had the chicken pox, I went on stage. When I had a cracked rib, I went on stage. And that is the old Vaudeville saying “the show must go on.”   – Jamie O’Neal 
Music Row is pretty magical. The streets that make up this iconic area of Nashville are lined with old craftsman style houses that are now record labels, publishing houses, recording studios, music licensing companies, video productions houses, radio networks, and PR firms. It is safe to say that you can hear the heartbeat of country music on Music Row.  This is where we sat down with 3 time Grammy nominee, ACM & Billboard award-winning artist Jamie O’Neal. In this exclusive interview, Jamie describes what it was like to grow up singing with the Murphy Family Band, landing the gig of back-up singer for Kiley Minogue’s  worldwide tour, how motherhood blew her away, and the stories behind her smash hits  There Is No Arizona, When I Think About Angels, and Somebody’s Hero.   There are some cool stories about Jamie’s love of dogs, her daughter’s musical talents, her friendships with Reba, Dolly, Martina and Sara, and the work ethic she learned as a child performer.  Music City Mentor Jacy Dawn Valeras gets some great advice from Jamie about how to make it in the new Nashville, and as you listen, you’ll get a pretty clear picture of what it takes to make it in country music.  This is Jamie O’Neal, unfiltered. 

Lily Isaacs of The Isaacs

We love it so much.  We love our fans, we love what we do, and it is exhausting, but I think it’s a calling on our lives where, we have to do this. This is part of our blood. It’s our calling. – Lily Isaacs
In this interview, we settle into the living room of Lily Isaacs, co-founder &  matriarch of The Isaacs, a multi-award-winning family group whose music is described as Southern Gospel, bluegrass and Americana.  But no matter how you describe their music, the magic is in the harmonies which are so tight, so ethereal, they are a religious experience.  Born in Germany after World War II, Lily is the child of holocaust survivors.  Her parents were Polish Jews who were forced out of their homes by the Nazis at gunpoint and sent to concentration camps where they nearly starved to death.  A proud immigrant to the United States, Lily grew up in the Bronx, New York where she loved to sing and was by her own admission, a bit of a hippy. She and her singing partner landed a recording contract with Columbia Records at only 19!  Soon after, Lily married musician Joe Isaac, she converted to Christianity.  The couple had 3 children:  Ben, Sonya & Becky and it wasn’t long before they realized that their children had incredible musical gifts. The Isaacs family band was formed 35 years ago and continues to pack audiences worldwide with their own brand of deeply moving, faith-based music. For an inspiring story of faith, perseverance and success in the music business, just hit that download button!

Sonny LeMaire of Exile

The appeal of music for me was playing the music. When you start playing, and that music is blowing by you, around you. It is the most amazing, glorious feeling.  – Sonny LeMaire 
In this episode, we sit down with Sonny LeMaire, bass player, singer/songwriter for the iconic group Exile.  Taped in Sonny’s cozy living room outside of Nashville, we learn all about what it takes to succeed in rock, pop and country music because this is a man who has experienced it all. With one of his rescue dogs napping in his lap,  Sonny led us through the incredible ladder of his career, including the story of his first bass guitar, purchased at a pawn shop, which he played (youguessed it) “til his fingers bled”.  Like so many teenagers growing up in the 60’s, Sonny was forever changed when he saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.  At that moment, Sonny  knew he was wired to play music and Paul McCartney on bass became his first role model.  From playing high school dances to touring the country with major acts, to a bowling alley lounge in Lexington, Kentucky, Sonny had seen it all very quickly. With a wife and 6 year old child to care for, Sonny decided it would be okay if he didn’t hit the big time.  Enter an offer in 1977 from Exile keyboard player Marlon Hargis who recruited Sonny after founding member J.P. Pennington sat in with him at the bowling alley lounge!  To find out how much the band was going to pay him, and what happened next, just hit that download button. This is one of those interviews you just can’t stop listening to.

Chris Lindsey

I think I am known as a nice guy.  It’s more important to be a great person than it is to be a hit songwriter.  -Chris Lindsey 

In this episode, we’re heading back to Aimeeland, a famous recording studio just outside of Nashville for an interview with Grammy nominated hit songwriter, Chris Lindsey. In this magical studio nestled beside the home he shares with wife Aimee Mayo and their three children, Chris has worked with just about every major country artist including Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Blake Shelton, Mark Wills, Martina McBride and many more. Known as Nashville’s premiere husband and wife songwriting team,  Chris and Aimee co-wrote Lonestar’s 1999 multi-format smash “Amazed” which spent 21 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Country charts, winning Song of the Year at the ACM Awards.  And there have been dozens of top 10 songs to follow for Chris who has over 250 commercial recordings of his songs which have sold 90 million records and counting.  In this interview, Chris sat with us at an old, hand-painted writing table to talk about his early childhood in Las Vegas just outside of Area 51, what Nashville was like when he arrived nearly 25 year ago, how he and Aimee write together, and what it takes to be a truly great songwriter. 

Candy & Jacy

Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves because the creation of Country Music Success Stories combines both of our talents and checks all of our boxes! -Candy O’Terry & Jacy Dawn Valeras

We’ve been getting lots of messages from listeners (and please keep ‘em coming @countrymusicsuccessstories). They tell us that they love hearing about the country music icons we interview, but they wish they knew more about the hosts! So, as we kick off season two, this episode is called “Meet the Hosts” and it’s our story. From an email Jacy sent to Candy in 2019, to to the decision to create this unique, award-winning series, this episode is chock full of cool stories like Candy’s first shot on the air in Boston, to Jacy’s brave move to Nashville in a U-Haul with 600 bucks in her pocket. But most of all, this episode is about the power of an unlikely friendship and the joy of joining forces to make your dreams and goals come true.

Whispering Bill Anderson

Find something you like doin’ so much, you’d do it for nothin’ and then learn to do it so well that they’ll pay you and then you’ve got it made. That’s how I feel about performing.
– Bill Anderson

If you want to get someone’s attention, just whisper! Whispering Bill Anderson has been getting people’s attention for decades through his distinctive voice, his songwriting genius, and his incredible ability to entertain an audience. Having just celebrated 60 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry, Bill was full of stories and plenty of wisdom when he invited us into his dining room in Old Hickory to talk about a career that started as a teenager and continues to this day. When we asked him about songwriting, Bill said: “One of the greatest things a songwriter can have is empathy. And that is to put yourself in somebody else’s place.” And about singers, he said: “Anybody can trace a picture. It takes a real artist to paint one. “ This episode is chock full of expert advice for anyone who wants to make a living in country music. With too many industry awards to mention, Bill Anderson was named BMI’s first country music songwriting icon, placing him alongside R&B legends James Brown, Chuck Berry and Little Richard. Download this episode for your next car ride to your favorite destination. Whispering Bill Anderson has so many great stories to tell and so many #1 songs for you to hear, you just might want to listen to it twice!