Persistence is the key to success. Not giving up. – Steve Dean
We were having so much fun talking to hit songwriter Steve Dean, we had to divide it into 2 parts. Over the past few years, we’ve learned that when you are interviewing an artist in their own home, you get to know them on a deeper level and that was certainly the case with Steve Dean. Steve raised his children in the house where we recorded this interview and when you walk in the door, it feels that way. Steve and his wife have created a cozy home, where love lives. He’s a family man who is grateful that he gets to write songs every day. Steve is a Grammy nominee who has written 6 #1 songs and country artists consider themselves lucky to sing his songs. In this interview, you’ll hear the stories behind some of his biggest hits including Does Your Memory Ever Sleep At Night for Steve Wariner, Reba’s Walk On, The Oakridge Boys, It Takes A Little Rain and Rodney Atkin’s smash Watching You. Steve also talks about his deep commitment to America’s veterans through a non-profit called FreedomsingsUSA.org. where service men and women take their stories, poems, and memories to create songs that heal with help from hit songwriters like Steve. His writing room may be lined with plaques that signify his success, but in this interview, we learn that Steve values the kind of success that can’t be measured in dollars and cents. It comes straight from the heart.
The competition for songwriters in Nashville is off the charts crazy and there are a lot of great writers coming to town every single day.– Steve Dean
Welcome to part 1 of the country music success story of hit songwriter Steve Dean. This Grammy nominee has written 6 #1 songs including Watching You by Rodney Atkins…the most played song on country radio in 2007. Recorded in Steve’s writing room at his home just outside of Nashville which is filled with guitars, Beatles memorabilia, and BMI awards this episode is full of wisdom for songwriters just getting started. Born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, by musical parents, Steve lived in a home where music was always playing. His mother taught him how to play the piano when he was about 5 years old and Steve’s dad gave him his first guitar at 9. Teachers in school noticed how well Steve wrote stories and encouraged him to be an author. After earning a degree in advertising at the University of Arkansas, he got his start selling creative to major advertisers until one day, a colleague said: “why don’t you go to Nashville and find artists who will sing the songs you’re writing?” On February 7, 1980, Steve packed up his Toyota and made his way to Nashville where he started writing hit songs that have earned him a Grammy nomination, countless industry awards, and six #1 hits including Watching You by Rodney Atkins which would go on to become the most played record on country radio in 2007. Through it all, Steve has mentored countless young songwriters including Jacy. If you’re thinking of packing up your car and heading to Nashville, listen to this episode first. The great Steve Dean has a lot to tell you!
It’s not us that makes music. Music makes us. My love for music is what inspires me and that is the secret to my success. It’s the song.– Lorrie Morgan
This episode may be one of the most personal interviews we’ve ever recorded. Born Loretta Lynn Morgan, Lorrie is the daughter of the legendary George Morgan and his beloved wife, Anna. Recorded at Lorrie’s home in a quiet little town outside of Nashville, she welcomed us into her favorite room which overlooks a backyard that was created by her husband Randy and includes a pool, BBQ, birdhouses perched in trees, and a koi pond. You’ll hear Lorrie’s dog Puddin Marie Antoinette bark, and you’ll also hear her cry as she sits in her favorite chair recalling the ups and downs of her incredible career. Mentored by the great Jeannie Seeley, Lorrie shares what it was like to make her debut at only 13 on the stage at the Grand Ole Opry. She reflects on life at home with a superstar father, the stories behind her biggest hits, and what she wishes she knew when she first got started. Recorded on the day after her late husband Keith Whitley was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame by Garth Brooks, this interview is a rare look into country music royalty and the heart of a hugely talented woman who was born to sing.
In the early days especially, I really did have a fire. I was very self-motivated. I wanted it so bad and I pushed that internal override button and just got on with it. – Pam Tillis
Welcome to part two of our exclusive interview with multi-Grammy winner Pam Tillis. Recorded at the Glen Campbell Museum, this part of our conversation includes the stories behind some of Pam’s greatest hits including Mi Vida Loca, Maybe It Was Memphis, Shake the Sugar Tree, and Don’t Tell Me What To Do. Pam also reveals the vocal performance she is most proud of, and how it felt to stand beside her father on the stage at the Grand Ole Opry to sing their duet, Waiting On The Wind. What makes this episode so special is Pam’s willingness to be“unvarnished” as she shares the details of an iconic career of her own, and as the daughter of the legendary Mel Tillis.
If something fills your soul like music fills mine when I’m singing on stage, the feeling that I feel driving back home is I don’t wanna go back home, I wanna go to the next town and that’s how I’ve always been. -Julie Roberts
Welcome to the story you probably never knew about platinum-selling singer/songwriter Julie Roberts. We jumped in the car for a ride to her home just outside of Nashville expecting to get the scoop on her comeback record: Ain’t In No Hurry and ended up hearing a story steeped in incredible highs and the lowest of lows. From a childhood marked by an abusive alcoholic father to the strength she learned by watching her beloved mother, Julie Robert’s story is all about resilience. Once the receptionist at Mercury Records, Julie burst on the scene as a brand new country artist in 2004 with her smash single: Break Down Here. Despite more than 2 million records sold, Julie’s hopes and dreams were crushed six years later when she lost her Nashville home in the hundred-year flood, was diagnosed with MS, and dropped by Mercury records. In this interview, she shares all these stories and more, including her MS recovery, her happy marriage, and the singular joy she experienced with the birth of her son Jackson through IVF. Recorded in her living room, just a few feet away from a stunning grand piano and vocal microphones ready for rehearsal, Julie Roberts is re-energized by her collaboration with legendary producers, Shooter Jennings and Erin Enderlin. Her album Ain’t In No Hurry is loaded with songs that bring out the best in her soulful, powerhouse voice which has a special way of breathing life into any story song. Joined by Jamey Johnson on Music City’s Killin’ Me and Randy Houser on A Little Crazy’s Kinda Nice, Julie Roberts is playing big at the top of her game. Take a listen as we reveal the heart of a kind woman who sings because she loves it and is just plain happy to be back.
Music was always my first love. I had an aching, a longing to get on a stage as a very young age.– Rita Wilson
Get ready for an up-close and very personal interview with Rita Wilson. Recorded in the green room at CMA Fest 2022, this is a rare look at one of the entertainment industries’ most versatile artists. From her early career on legendary TV shows like The Brady Bunch, Happy Days, MASH, Bosom Buddies and Three’s Company to leading roles in film and on stage, Rita’s inner-glow shines through in any genre. In this interview, she admits that there is no greater joy than pouring your heart into a song. Her latest album is a labor of love, co-produced by Grammy winner Matt Rowlings. Packed with timeless duets from the 70’s, Now & Forever features Keith Urban, Tim McGraw, Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne, Vince Gill, Elvis Costello, Jimmie Allen and Leslie Odom, Jr. The lead single features Josh Groban intertwined with Rita’s flawless vocal on the Fleetwood Mac classic, Songbird. In this interview, Rita opens up about a success story very few women in show business experience. This episode includes stories about her parent’s immigration to the United States, performing at the Grand Ole Opry, her breast cancer diagnosis, her devotion to her family and how songwriting came late, encouraged by Kara DioGuardi. But it is Rita’s answer to our final question about the key to her success that left us speechless. There were tears in Rita’s answer and we left knowing that we had just interviewed a person of great character. For a deep dive into the trajectory of a superstar, just hit that download button.
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!
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.