Music Reviews

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Interview with Amanda Collins


Living in Nashville, when someone says, “I just moved to the area to pursue music,” there’s an inside voice of the listener that responds, “You, along with everyone else.”  It is that common.  Nashville is to musicians what Hollywood is to actors.  One or two might “succeed” while thousands of others . . . “don’t.”

So when I first met Amanda, who is gifted with a rare genuineness and light that everyone is drawn to, I immediately felt protective of her. Like an idiot, I was thinking of the odds…

Until I heard her music.  I ate a big piece of humble pie, and then I had to apologize to God because doubting her is like doubting Him.  Her faith is the backbone of who she is:  her life choices and her leaps reflect this, and therefore, her lyrics are saturated with hope.  As talented as she is lovely, God has bestowed her with gifts that she is using for His glory, and it is absolutely awe-inspiring to witness.  The cynic in me says that there truly is nothing new under the sun, but Amanda’s voice is unique and fresh, and her approach is creative enough that she does anything but “blend in.”  Even if I didn’t know her personally and adore her, I’d say that the Christian genre specifically needs her desperately.  But because I do know her, I’d say that there’s an audience that needs her even more so.

You see, Amanda is a smart girl.  I’m sure she is very well aware of the odds, but she chose to ignore them and put her faith in God anyway.  That, my friends, is winning.  I apologized to her when asking her to do this interview, saying Relate’s reach isn’t that big, but sometimes, even if it is just one person who listens and is inspired, then that is enough.  That one person, me, has already been touched, but it is my sincere hope that a few more listen and are encouraged in much the same way.

Relate:  First memory of music:

Amanda:  When I was younger I used to steal my older brothers cd’s and listen to them in my free time. The Beautiful Letdown by Switchfoot was the first record to really make an impact on me. I can’t even number the amount of times I listened to that record. 


R:  Name one song you wish you had written and why:

A:  Superstition by Stevie Wonder. It has such a simple message and I just love Stevie. That song always gets me on my feet!


R:  Tell us about a favorite song of yours that you’ve written and your source of inspiration.

A:  I’m always very critical of my own writing, but if I had to pick it would be my song called You Know. I had a lot of crazy things going on in my life when I wrote that song. Many crossroads ahead of me and I was super stressed out. The message of the song is just to let go of all your worries. God has it under control. Even if you don’t know the future, it’s all gonna be ok. 


R:  Tell us about your latest single (did you help write it, how does it differ from other songs you’ve done, etc.)

A:  My latest single is called Flight, and I had an absolute blast recording the song. I wanted to step out and do something outside of my comfort zone. So I collaborated with a rapper. I came up with the idea and wrote the song all in one day. I wrote the music to the song, I wrote the lyrics to the hook, and then I left two open verses for the rapper friend of mine to work his magic! It was such a crazy and fun experience. It’s a synth/pop/rap song, needless to say it’s very different from anything I’ve done in the past. 


R:  If you could work with anyone in the music industry, who would it be and why?

A:  NEEDTOBREATHE hands down. Not even a question. I absolutely love love love their style of songwriting and performing. Plus, I kinda have a crush on the guitar player. 


R:  What made you decide you wanted to pursue music?

A:  I honestly don’t remember the exact date, but it just hit me one day. I was fresh out of high school and I remember sitting there one day, thinking about the future and what I was going to do with my life. I hadn’t been writing songs for very long at that point. Singing and writing music was a huge passion of mine and there was a point that I just knew I wanted to keep doing it.  


R:  What has been the best thing about moving to Nashville? What has been the hardest part about moving here?

A:  The best thing has been the PEOPLE! I haven’t been in Nashville for more than 8 months now but it already feels like home. People have been so kind and welcoming. I will forever be grateful for that. The music has been alright too!!

The hardest part has definitely been leaving family behind in New England. I miss my brother and sister in law so much! They are my best friends and I miss them like crazy. I’m glad they are only a short plane ride away. 


R:  How has your faith helped you the most?

A:  My faith is everything. God has been by my side through it all, it’s only because of Him that I’m able to do what I do and pursue my dream!

 

R:  What advice would you give your thirteen year old self?

A: I would tell myself to play piano a lot more! Take practicing more seriously. Work harder. Ignore the haters. Don’t give up. 


R:  What is your definition of success?

A:  Doing what you love to do. Doing what you feel called to do! Always doing your best at whatever you do. 


Just for fun-pick one in each pair:

-beach or the mountains

I love them both! but if I had to pick…beach!

-pizza or hamburgers and fries

Pizza!!

-high heels or boots
Boots!!


-shopping or hiking
Hiking!!


-book or movie

Movie

 

Please visit https://www.facebook.com/Collins-318414765028113 for more information and be sure to get her latest single “Flight.”  Like, right now.

 

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins



Cimorelli's New Album Might Be The Best Yet


 

Written by:  Jill Sheets

Cimorelli’s newest album has just been released. Even thought Alive is not their first album, it is their first pop/Christian album. The Cimorelli sisters wrote every song on it. (When you think they cannot get any better, they do!) Personally, I think Alive is their best album so far. It’s catchy and upbeat; it shows off their strong vocals and meaningful lyrics. They have worship songs, but they also tackle hard issues like worthlessness and addiction. These inspirational and uplifting songs will get stuck in your head, especially when you need a certain message.  It is hard to pick my favorite song, as I love them all. Each song speaks to me in a different way, and I’m sure they will for you too.

 

Track Listing:

  1.    Your Name Is Forever
  2.    One More Night
  3.    Alive
  4.    Never Let Me Fall
  5.    The Love Of A Man
  6.    My God Is Here
  7.    Hope For It
  8.    Kick The Habit
  9.    Find Me
  10.    Love Song (Over Me)

I had been waiting a while for this CD, and it was worth the wait. I cannot wait to see what Cimorelli does next. If you are interested in learning more about this sister group you can go to the links below.

https://www.cimorellimusic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Cimorelliband/

https://www.instagram.com/cimorelliband/

https://www.youtube.com/user/cimorellitheband

 



Interview with Mason Ashley


It’s been several dry months for me, musically wise.  I’m listening and absorbing, but there hasn’t been much interest in writing about any of it.  So, the second an email piques my interest, I’m all over it, quick, before I lose the motivation.  Fortunately, though, I love “Paper Planes” so much, I am as excited to share this with you now as I was three weeks ago when I first heard Mason.  Straight up great lyrics and lovely voice with no flash and no gimmicks because there isn’t any needed.  Seriously, it’s so refreshing.  And this interview hints at a sense of humor that made me smile; I am as eager to share her responses as I am to tell everyone about her music.  Read on. And then go listen. I’m sure you’ll feel the same.

 

Relate:  First memory of music:

Mason:  I grew up watching the VH1 Top 20 Video countdown every Saturday since I was really little. I used to dance around the living room and reenact music videos and sing along with every song my parents would play in the house. The first song I wrote was on a hotel notepad when I was seven years old about being late for school…. I was homeschooled at the time. 

 

R:  Name one song you wish you had written and why?

M:  “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” by Bob Dylan is a song I always wish I’d written. It is the greatest break up song of all time in my opinion. It totally encapsulates the feelings at the end of a relationship. Each verse takes you through the different emotions; the “who cares” somewhat sarcastic attitude, the feeling of giving up, and the hint of sadness in the last verse. It’s genius. 

 

R:  Favorite song of yours that you have written and what makes it special to you?

M:  I think my favorite song I’ve written is the title track of my new EP, “Strangers”. That song title was in my phone notes for about two years and I just never found lyrics that lived up to the title until last summer. The song just kind of poured out of me and it has some of my favorite and most personal lines in it. It’s about a very complicated relationship I was in last year that taught me a lot about myself and how I deal with different situations. “Strangers” is special to me because it is the song I had always wanted to write and it ended up exactly the way I wanted it to in production. It captures the feeling of getting to know someone, losing them, and realizing maybe you never really knew them at all… and in the end you end up exactly how you started: strangers. 

 

R:  I’ve read that you have traveled a lot. How has meeting new people and seeing different places helped you become a better songwriter and musician?

M:  I always get very inspired when I travel. Something about seeing parts of the world I’ve never seen before for the first time makes me want to capture that feeling in lyrics. Meeting new people is the same kind of inspiration for me.. it’s a reminder of how unique everyone is and how everyone has their own story. 

 

R:  Have you ever been afraid to share a song and did you get over that fear?  If so, how?  And if not, do you think you will always have songs that you keep to yourself?

M:  When I first started writing, I was terrified to share any of my songs. When I started performing my songs, I would hide all my feelings in metaphors in my lyrics to make sure nobody knew how I was feeling. I had been writing a few years when I finally realized that all the songs by other artists that I loved were songs that told a brutally honest story. From then on, I felt confident being honest in my writing…it’s much easier.  

 

R:  What goal do you have for yourself that is so big that it frightens you?

M:  My biggest, most terrifying goal is probably to have my song in a movie. It is a dream of mine and if it happened, I think I would freak out. 

 

R:  Best advice that you have ever been given?

M:  Growing up in church with my pastor being my grandfather, I always have great advice. One of my favorite pieces of advice is actually something my grandpa said about God and how He is in everything in our lives, even the rough times. “He’s the designer of the storm. He doesn’t just get you through it… He is in it.” Those words always calm me down and remind me that there is a plan for my life better than I could ever design for myself. 

 

R:  When you aren’t singing or writing music, what do you like to do?

M:   I’m in cosmetology school right now so when I’m not doing something music related I’m normally doing someone’s hair. I’m a coffee-addict so I’m also usually found in a coffee shop after or before school. And I’ve also started doing a lot of yoga lately. 

 

R:  Tell us about something that has made you laugh in the last twenty-four hours.

M:  Well… I was watching The Office earlier (for the billionth time) and laughing with every episode I watched. 

 

R:  Name one song on your iPod that your friends would be surprised you own.

M:  I normally have pop, rap, or indie music playing when my friends are with me so I think they’d be most surprised at the amount of Jackson 5 songs I have on my phone.. They are probably my guilty pleasure band. 

 

R:  Just for fun-choose one:  Beach or the mountains?

M:  Beach BY the mountains. 

 

R:  T-shirts and jeans or sweaters and skirts?

M:   T-shirts and jeans.

 

R:  Taylor Swift or Beyonce?

M:  T-swizzle.

 

R:  Pizza or Cheeseburgers and fries?

M:   Pizza! (Barbecue chicken pizza specifically)

 

R:  Chocolate or potato chips?

M:  Chocolate chips all the way.

 

For more information about Mason, please visit:  http://www.masonashley.com/

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

 



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