Meet Singer Kaylee Rutland


Recently, I interviewed Belmont University senior Kaylee Rutland about her budding career in country music. Keep reading to find out what inspires her to write as well as her plans for the future.


R: Tell us a little about yourself.

K: I’m Kaylee Rutland, a singer, songwriter, and student living in Nashville, Tennessee. I am driven by my faith and am very close to my family. I’m currently a senior at Belmont University majoring in Music Business. I like to write and sing about positive messages with an encouraging vibe even if it’s about a tough subject.


R: Who are your biggest inspirations?

K: My biggest musical inspiration is Reba McEntire. Her vocals are incredible and her energy is contagious. She’s the queen of country in my books and I’ve always admired her talents, even when I was really young. I’m also inspired by my mom and my grandparents. They’ve been a huge part of my journey with endless encouragement and I can go to them about anything.


R: Do you have an album or EP out?

K: Over the last few months, I’ve been writing a lot of new material with the plan to release a more extensive body of work, whether that’s an album or EP, in the future. Both of my latest releases, “Pick Me Up” and “More Of That,” will be included on the full-length project. But for now, they are available as singles on iTunes.


R: What is your single “Pick Me Up” about?

K: “Pick Me Up” is about breaking through the everyday routine and enjoying the day that the week ends. It’s fun and upbeat and almost a weekend anthem. It serves as a reminder that whatever your week might have been like, it’s never a bad day to plan a good time!


R: What are some of your plans for the future?

K: The first plan is to graduate from Belmont University. I will also continue to make and share new music with y’all this year. Then, I plan to work as hard as I can to achieve my dreams, one of which is to play at the Grand Ole Opry one day.


R: What advice would you give to other young singers?

K: Perseverance — if it’s something you aspire to do and it’s the love of your life, you have to keep doing everything you can. Nothing can stop you. 

Check out Kaylee’s official website and her YouTube channel, and go follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!


By Anna Tallarico

Photo credits: Kaylee Rutland press photos


Chit Chatting with 7th Ave


I first came across 7th Ave when I was looking for artists who covered the song “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. I had already heard some great covers, and some not-so-great ones. 7th Ave’s cover was one of the best. Read on about this group, and maybe you will fall in love with their music like I have.

R: Tell us a little bit about yourselves and how you got started singing.

KELLEY: I grew up a total tomboy in Sacramento, but even as a little girl I loved to sing. I would perform lullabies in my living room and invite my family to watch (as if they didn’t have anything better to do). I joined The Sacramento Children’s Chorus in third grade and started singing the national anthems at sporting events around northern California. In high school I got into musical theater, and then my love for choir turned into a cappella. Now I’ve been singing a cappella for nearly ten years!

ADAM: I grew up with an older sister who was always singing when she’d get ready for school. I was kind of an annoying little brother, and was determined to do the things my sister did and hang out with her even when she didn’t want me around! I guess that’s where it started. She’d sing along to Boyz II Men and Celine Dion in her room, so I started doing the same thing.

CHRIS: My mother is a professional musician, so I was raised in a musical environment from Day One. I got my first paid gig singing at a wedding when I was 16, and from then on I was doing funerals, weddings, private parties, etc. all the time through my mom and her connections. I went to college for music and eventually started the band Home Free, which went on to win Season 4 of NBC’s The Sing-Off. I signed a record deal with Columbia Records, and was part of three album releases with them. I left the band in May of 2016 to pursue my solo endeavors, including starting 7th Ave!

TRISTIN: I’m Chris’s little sister. I’m also an actress, most notably appearing on Criminal Minds. I co-run my own business called TnT Dance Factory, creating dance fitness videos online. I also teach “Dance It Out” classes at 24 Hour Fitness. I started singing when I was in the womb — just kidding. The first time I was on stage, though, I was in the womb. My mother has always been a performer. I started out performing in my church where my mother is the musical director. I also sang in choir in high school and was in all the musicals.

R: How did you all meet and how long have you been singing together?

ADAM: I met Chris almost ten years ago on a cruise ship while I was performing in the production cast. He was onboard with his first group, Home Free. We hit it off, kept in touch, and started singing together before long. As an added bonus, I got to meet Tristin and Kelley through Chris!


R: How did you come up with your band’s name?

TRISTIN: Chris had come up with some ideas for our band name, but I was totally vetoeing some of them. I had an idea, which also got vetoed. We had a list of about five band names that we were considering, but none of them really jived with all of us and some of them kind of pigeonholed what our sound was going to have to be. We really wanted a band name that left it open because we weren’t even really sure of our sound and style yet. 7th Ave is so open that it can really be a name for any type of band. It also happens to be the name of the street that Chris lives on. That is where 7th Ave really was conceptualized and where a lot of the work happens, so it fits. It has a nice ring to it, too. We all agreed that we liked it. Then the first video was out! No going back!


R: Tell us about your first album Debut.

ADAMDebut is a reimagining of some of our favorite songs. Each song has an element of intricate vocal harmonies, from a cappella arrangements to background vocals, tucked into exciting full band arrangements.


R: What are some of your favorite songs off this album?

TRISTIN: I’m really impressed with “Can’t Stop the Feeling” and “Uptown Funk.” Those turned out smashingly well and I probably show those two videos to people first. I personally am obsessed with “The Maroon 5 Medley.” Elliott’s arrangement is so dope. Heatbox’s vocal percussion on “Harder to Breathe” is amazing, too. Every time I hear it, my whole body starts jamming to it. I can’t help it. It’s so sick! “Toxic” also turned out really funky. I’ll admit I had my doubts, but I really like that one now, too.


R: For those who have not heard your music yet, would you mind describing your sound to the readers?

CHRIS: We’re really trying to define that for ourselves right now. We have a diverse and rich musical background, so our influences come across in many ways. We’ve taken songs and redone them in rockabilly, swing, a capella, funk, and pop. I think one of our calling cards will be our ability to reimagine songs in different styles, as well as our own original sound eventually.


R: Do you have plans on releasing another album?

CHRIS: Absolutely. We’ll have something out next summer – either an original CD, or perhaps a Christmas album.


R: Do you have plans on touring?

ADAM: Sure do! We’re hoping to go on our first tour as early as the winter of 2017.


R: I love your videos. How do you come up with the ideas for them?

ADAM: Thank you! We have an extrememely talented group of creative folks, from Chris to our directors and choreographers, and everyone in between. We all have a chance to give input and express our creativity in the videos. It is such a rewarding experience!


R: Where can people get your music?

CHRIS: We’re on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, etc. as well as our website (link below).


R: What advice would you give someone who wanted to become a singer?

KELLEY: Just keep singing. Keep messing up. That’s the only way you’ll get better. I still mess up all the time, and I learn from my mistakes. It’s a constant journey and growth process!


R: What singers and bands do you listen to? What is your favorite song by each one?

KELLEY: I love Sara Bareilles, and not just because she sang a cappella in college. My favorite song of hers is “Hold My Heart.” I also think Kelly Clarkson is an absolute beast. I don’t know how she does it. I’ve started listening to jazz more recently and fell in love with Nina Simone – there is a live performance of “Brooklyn” that I love.

ADAM: I listen to so many groups and singers, but I’ll narrow it down to a couple favorites. Marc Broussard is my number one. It’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite song, so I’ll say his entire album Carencro is lit! I also spend a lot of listening hours with Harry Connick Jr. in my ears. My favorite song of Connick’s would be “Learn To Love” from his album To See You.

TRISTIN: My favorite singer is Ella Fitzgerald. She always gives me the warm fuzzies. I also like Katy Perry, and Adele, and a lot of singers who sing with emotion in their voice.

CHRIS: Bruno Mars is huge for me right now, and “Uptown Funk” is just genius. His stage presence and overall showmanship is something everyone can aspire to – I’m seeing him in concert next summer and I can’t wait!


R: Who has been your biggest influence?

KELLEY: I don’t think I could narrow it down to just one.

ADAM: Stevie Wonder.

TRISTIN: My brother Chris is very influential in my life. He is one of the smartest and hardest-working artists I know and he is naturally so helpful and supportive of others. Also my parents – major influences in my life. I also find inspiration and motivation in many artists and entrepreneurs. If they’re doing something I like, I try to emulate and incorporate it.

CHRIS: Growing up, Michael W. Smith and Alan Menken were probably the most influential for me. Both of their influences are present in all of my original music and overall style.


R: Do you have any charities or causes that are close to your heart? If so, tell us about them.

KELLEY: Two of my best friends Brittany Snow and Courtney Knowles started a charity called Love is Louder over six years ago. It is a blanket organization designed for anyone who is feeling alone, no matter the cause. It is a safe space and a constant reminder that love is louder than the societal pressures and judgments that challenge us daily. Learn more at


R: What is the strangest question you have ever been asked?

TRISTIN: In a broader sense there’s a lot of questions I’ve had to say no to. I’ve been asked to do sex scenes, I’ve been asked to pose naked, I’ve been asked to improvise being a clown at a kid’s birthday party for an audition that had nothing to do with the role I was auditioning for, I’ve been asked to make custom fight videos for people, etc. You’ve got to have a thick skin in this business when what you’re selling is you, when you are your product. You will get criticism and rejection, but you can’t take it personally. Brush it off and know your worth.

R: It is not easy being a teenager. What advice would you give them in general?

TRISTIN: If that ain’t the truth. It is NOT easy being a teenager. I was so self conscious as a teenager and every little thing mattered SO MUCH. I always felt like the other kids were talking badly about me. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t give two hoots about them or what they were saying. Or, I’d confront them and ask them what their problem was. But at the time I would just go into the bathroom and cry. I feel you guys. I know. The bullying is awful. The teasing sucks. All the hormones racing through you like crazy, it’s exhausting. All you want to do is sleep all day. And all I can say is that IT. GETS. BETTER. It does. It really really does. Maybe your high school experience is great so far, but chances are, there’s something challenging you or something that you’re nervous about. Not until I went to college did I finally feel free from that. Just know that you matter. You matter so much. There is a reason for you being on this planet. You have a purpose. You’ve just got to find it and figure it out, and that takes time. Get involved in activities, groups, teams, with charities, volunteer, etc. Listen to the advice you’re given, sometimes take it with a grain of salt, but really marinate with it and see if it aligns with your beliefs and values. If it doesn’t, forget about it and move on. And remember, the cream always rises to the top, so rise above the noise, the haters, the critics, and the negativity. You are enough, just being you.


R: What are some of your unique facts?

KELLEY: I would say people don’t know that I can do the worm, but I actually did it in Pitch Perfect 2.  It’s in a montage, though, so it’s kind of hidden.

ADAM: I want to have a second career in the wine industry!

TRISTIN: People are always surprised when they find out I love Star Wars and was obsessed with all the main Nintendo 64 games growing up. Super Mario, Mario Kart, James Bond, Smash Brothers, Mario Party, etc. Then again, I grew up with Chris Rupp, so it’s not that surprising.

CHRIS: Before finishing college and going full-time with music, I took a job with Microsoft helping to design video games in Dallas, TX. It was a crazy opportunity that was completely outside of my overall plan, but it was so cool that I couldn’t pass it up and I’m very glad that I had that experience for a year.


R: Do you have any upcoming projects? What are your future goals?

CHRIS: I ALWAYS have upcoming projects! I just released my own Christmas album in November, and am hard at work creating an a cappella hymn CD right now. I create four music videos a month between myself and 7th Ave, so there’s a big master calendar of content coming!


R: Are you on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and what are their addresses? Do you have an official website and/ or youtube page?

CHRIS: We’re on all of the various sites!

Our website:



Snapchat: the7thaveband

We all have solo channels and projects as well if you’d like to find out more about us!


R: Is there anything else you would like to add or say to your fans?

KELLEY: I pinch myself every time I realize that there are people who support me in my creative endeavors – people who actually want to hear my music. I feel so lucky. So, THANK YOU!

ADAM: The only thing I’ve ever wanted in life was to sing and make a living doing it. So a HUGE thank you is in order to all of our fans and listeners for making that a possibility. You guys are amazing!!

TRISTIN: Thank you for your continued support of us. I know it’s cliché, but we really wouldn’t be able to create our music and videos without you guys. Thank you for the compliments, the feedback, the fan art, the patronage, the sharing, liking, following, and so forth. Please keep doing it. Help us, help you. The more fans we get, the more accessible we become, the more shows we can do, the more merchandise we can have, the more music and videos we can create, and the higher quality everything will become.  You are making our dreams our reality, and that is something I am so grateful for. I love you guys. Thank you.

CHRIS: An overall “thank you” for supporting us! Without people to enjoy and listen to our music and art, it’s a lonely path to take. As long as you keep listening, we’ll keep making great content for you!


R: Thank you for the interview! Have a great day.


Written by Jill Sheets

Picture credit: Jeremy Michael Lewis

Sister Singers to Keep an Eye On

Written By: Jill Sheets

cimI would love to talk about a couple of new musicians that I have come across. Both of these groups are made up of talented sisters!

The first one is Cimorelli. This talented sister group is made up of six sisters: Christina, Katherine, Lisa, Amy, Lauren, and Dani. I first found this singer-songwriter band on Youtube.  Not only do they sing covers, but also original music. This fun loving sister group is a role model to all. I was blessed to met them at a concert and the way they treated their fans was amazing.  They really appreciate their fans. They are working on a new album “Up At Night, which I hope will be available soon.  But, you can pre-order it.

They are going to make it far.

Here are a few of their songs that are on you tube: (original) (original) (original) (original) (cover)


no Frills TwinsThe No Frills Twins, Vanessa & Arna Rogers, are the next up and coming singers that I noticed.  These unique twin sisters from Australia caught my attention by how they dressed.  I love their fashion sense, but unfortunately I could not pull it off!  The first song that I heard from them was “God Bless the Internet.” I found the song catchy and could not help play it every chance I had!  Their next release was “Dying to be Thin” and I think that this song has a wonderful message for everyone.


Here are some of their videos: (Original) (Original) (original)