Meet Rising Star Jenna Calandra


Hey guys! My name is Jenna Calandra. I’m from Long Island, NY and I’m 22 years old. My passion is music, and I want to be able to inspire everyone around the world.


R: When did you ​first​ ​get​ ​into​ ​singing?​ ​What​ ​made​ ​you​ ​want​ ​to​ ​seriously​ ​pursue​ ​it?

J: I was about eight years old, I was in a class choir in elementary school and I said to myself, “I want to be a singer.” I did plays in fourth and fifth grade, but I wasn’t a really good actress. I just wanted to sing!


R: What​ ​style​ ​do​ ​you​ ​sing?​ ​What’s​ ​your​ ​favorite​ ​song?

J: I sing pop and R&B. My favorite song at the moment is “You Don’t Do It For Me Anymore” by Demi Lovato from her newest album. She is my inspiration.


R: Tell​ ​us​ ​about​ ​your​ ​single.​ ​What’s​ ​the​ ​story​ ​behind​ ​it?

J: My single “I’ll Be” is about finding the truth about yourself and discovering the path of your dreams. Basically, it’s about not giving up on your dreams and instead living fully, falling in love, keeping yourself happy, and doing what you love most.


R: I​ ​also​ ​heard​ ​you​ ​have​ ​an​ ​EP​ ​coming​ ​out​ ​next​ ​year.​ ​Tell​ ​us ​about​ ​it and your recording process.

J: I do an artist development program in Plainview at The Loft Sound Studio, a.k.a. Artist Factory NY. That’s also where I record my music. I have two songs out now, and my third single is going to be out in 2018. Right now, I just want to take my time recording and songwriting for my self-titled debut album, Jenna, which will be coming out in about two and a half years. It’s about my darkest times, chasing dreams, and inspiring messages that I’ve learned from other people. I can’t wait to show the world this record!


R: Who​ ​are​ ​some​ ​of​ ​your​ ​inspirations,​ ​both​ ​musically​ ​and​ ​personally?

J: My biggest musical influences include Tori Kelly, Ariana Grande, and Taylor Swift, but my main inspiration is Demi Lovato. Personally, I like her for who she is personality-wise, because she seems funny and cool to hang out with. She is very talented, and her vocals give me chills every time when I hear her song “Stone Cold” off her recent album Confident (one of my favorite albums). She also inspired me to keep chasing my dreams and keep myself healthy.


R: What​ ​are​ ​some​ ​of​ ​your​ ​future​ ​goals?

J: My future goals are to keep myself healthy, strong, confident, and inspire girls of all ages with my music. I want my songs to help others who are suffering emotionally. I’ve been there, so that’s why I sing and write songs to get those emotions out.


R: Is there any charity or cause close to your heart that you want to raise awareness for?

J: I want to start a charity in the future for people who are suffering with mental illness or who are disabled. We are all humans, and we should be respected as humans.


R: What​ ​advice​ ​would​ ​you​ ​give​ ​girls​ ​that​ ​want​ ​to​ ​pursue​ ​a​ ​career​ ​in​ ​singing?

J: Never give up! You are beautiful, talented, and worth it. You can do anything if you put your mind to it because you’re strong and you can achieve anything. If you are bullied, don’t listen to the haters, because they’re just jealous and they don’t know who you really are inside and out. You are amazing. Keep your head up and listen to your heart!


R: Where​ ​can​ ​people​ ​get​ ​your​ ​music?

J: My single “I’ll Be” will be back on Spotify soon. I had some difficulties with a website that has a distribution with Spotify, but keep an eye out for it!


R: Is​ ​there​ ​anything​ ​else​ ​you​ ​would​ ​like​ ​to​ ​add?

J: Thank you so much for interviewing me! I had so much fun. To all the readers out there, don’t give up on your dreams. Keep smiling and be happy! Have a wonderful day!


Meet Up and Coming Country Singer Natalie Alexander

21-year-old California native Natalie Alexander is bursting onto the country music scene with her debut single “Cruel” and self-titled EP. You may have heard her before–another one of her songs, “Don’t Want to Catch My Breath,” is starting to gain some traction on major country music stations in the US. Be sure to go check out her official website to stay up to date, and don’t forget to go follow her on Twitter and Instagram.


R: When did you fall in love with music? What made you want to pursue it as a career?

N: I grew up in a very musical family, so it was always a big part of my life. I think every kid playing an instrument complains about the practicing and when I would tell my mom I didn’t want to practice she’d say “one day you’ll be so glad I made you practice.” Of course she was right! I love that music is something I’ll always have as a way to express myself. I think that makes it really special. Although my love for music started young, it wasn’t until about 2 years ago that I started pursuing music professionally. I was really involved in managing my brothers’ band and there came a point where I decided it was the right time for me to explore the other side.


R: Tell us about your EP. What’s your favorite song on it and why?

N: This EP was such a fun project! I recorded it over a weekend in December and it was my first time ever being in the studio! There are 4 songs, each very different in style but still so me. I wanted to give a sampling of what I’m capable of doing and what I like to sing which is what drove me to recording those 4 songs. My favorite is probably “Cruel” because it’s such a fun song and it’s message is so important to me. It was also the first song of mine I saw people singing along to so it will always be special for that reason


R: What are some of your future goals?

N: I want to write my next album! Bucket list goal is to perform at the Opry.


R: Besides music, what do you like to do?

N: I love movies and TV, so my idea of a perfect Sunday is either spending all day at a theater to see a bunch of movies in a row, or to binge watch a series on Netflix and Postmates sushi from my bed.


R: Are there any charities close to your heart that you would like to raise awareness for?

N: CCI – Canine Companions for Independence! It’s such a great organization. I’m a big lover of dogs and so the fact that this organization uses dogs to help people is so amazing!


R: Is there anything else you would like to add?

N: Thank you to everyone who has supported me and all the people who send me sweet messages and such positive feedback on my music. I appreciate you all so much!

Meet Up and Coming Singer Kylie Hughes


Sometimes it’s pretty obvious when someone is born a star. When she was little, singer Kylie Hughes would belt out Disney tunes (her favorite was the Hercules soundtrack). Now, she has a number of musical accomplishments under her belt, including producing an EP when she was fourteen, performing at music festivals, and sharing the stage with several well-known artists such as the Beach Boys, Jesse McCartney, and Building 429. She’s also opened for a John Mayer concert and performed a duet at Carnegie Hall with Michael W. Smith.

Kylie is a Cali girl at heart, and a lot of her music is inspired by California and the fun, upbeat, sunny lifestyle. When asked about her style of music, she said she dabbles in a little bit of everything, from pop to country. “I love how blurred the lines of music genres are these days. You can almost do anything.” Her debut album features an array of beautiful, original songs such as “Heat,” “Love Somebody Else,” and her personal favorite, “Gotta Get Out.” She says that it’s very fun to perform live because there is a bit of call and response, and she feels really connected to the audience on that one.

Besides singing, she loves interior design and traveling. “I actually love living out of a bag from time to time. It keeps me spontaneous.” When asked about what advice she has for other young singers, she said this: “Stick to your guns and don’t be afraid to try and fail. You will gain invaluable lessons. But if you are going to take a risk, do it because YOU want to, not because you feel pressure from other people. Trust your gut.”

Be sure to check out her website and follow all her socials (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) for updates, including information on when her new music video is coming out!


Written by Anna Tallarico

Photo credit: Shalon Goss


Meet Up and Coming Teen Singer Hannah Richardson


Who says you need to be an adult to change the world? Hannah Richardson is only sixteen and already she is the face of a successful company and on the verge of releasing an album. Find out more about her music, her company and its inspiring mission, and how you can connect with her on social media.

(Psst! Go follow the company’s Instagram page — it already has over 10,000 followers!)


R: Tell us about yourself. How long have you been singing? What made you fall in love with it?

H: Well, hey there! My name is Hannah Richardson, I’m sixteen years old, and I’m a singer and songwriter, as well as the face of an incredible girl power company called Gomee Girl. Looking back, I think I fell in love with music when my parents started playing it in the house! I was extremely blessed that my parents exposed me to all of these incredible artists at such a young age, such as Fleetwood Mac, Allison Krauss, Led Zeppelin, etc. I was definitely influenced by them when I started writing my own music years later. I officially started singing at six years old in my church choir, but got my first solo when I was seven. My pastor was nice enough to offer that the girl singing obnoxiously over all the other kids (that girl being me) get her own song. Quite frankly, I think that it was the solo in particular that really got me fascinated with being in front of people, as it was when I realized that I could force a group of adults to listen to me who otherwise wouldn’t have. Ironically, that’s kind of still true today.


R: I heard you are about to release an album. That’s so exciting! What’s your favorite song on it?

H: Totally! The album is called Chasing Rainbows and is set to be released on September 18th, 2017. It has a very pop and country feel with a lil’ Irish flair, and showcases all of my favorite instruments, like mandolins, fiddles, and vintage guitars. My favorite songs on the album are generally the musically joyous ones that are tinged with darker lyrics. I’m really obsessed with having that awesome conflict of lyrics and music in my songs, just because it makes people second guess that whole concept of “oh, this is upbeat so it’s obviously totally happy!” Spoiler alert, but that’s why “Rich Kids” and “Just A Friend” were personally so wonderful for me to write, and why I think people will really connect with those. This probably sounds cliche, but picking your favorite song is liking picking your favorite child. All of the songs are so unique and come from such different places emotionally. However, I will say that “Chasing Rainbows” was definitely my most therapeutic song. What I mean by that is, after writing it, I realized I had finally unlocked this thing that had been hurting me for a long time, and could let all of my feelings out every time I sang the song. For me, that’s the whole beauty of songwriting. It’s taking incredibly complex emotions and situations that nobody but you understands and somehow translating them into something our actual language hasn’t yet figured out how to communicate.


R: Tell us about Gomee Girl. How can we raise awareness?

H: Gomee Girl’s main mission is to improve the self-esteem of young girls. Through positive social media campaigns, school assembly events, and their patches with positive images, the organization is focused on letting every woman know that she can love herself exactly the way she is. As the face of the company, some of my jobs include representing the company in a good light, designing exclusive products, and writing epic, girl-power music. However, the most important responsibility I have taken on is giving advice to girls who are followers of myself and/or the company. Despite the time commitment and rather emotional nature of the job, this has become one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. I mean, nothing is more fulfilling than a girl who at one point felt she was “useless,” and now messages me pictures of herself at a school dance. Nothing can beat that! One way to raise awareness is simply by following Gomee Girl’s social media sites (@gomeegirl). Another way is to let any girl who might need some help know that she can check out for advice on everything from basketball to boy trouble and also just to connect with other girls who’ve had similar struggles in life!


R: What do you like to do besides singing?

H: I’m a Music & Diversions division writer for Metiza Magazine, so I am super obsessed with interviewing artists. I also read a lot (shoutout to Harry Potter), and love watching TV shows like Stranger Things, Game of Thrones, and Gilmore Girls.


R: What advice do you have for young girls who want to pursue a career as a singer or anything in the music industry?

H: NEVER let people say that you can’t pursue your dreams due to circumstances beyond your control. There will always be people who are more “gifted” than you, who have prettier hair than you, who have more money than you do, etc. That being said, it’s the people who work day and night and totally dedicate themselves to their passion that actually make a mark on the world. No excuses. You can do this!


R: What are your social media addresses?

H: Website –

Facebook –

Twitter –

Instagram –

YouTube –

R: Is there anything else you would like to add?

H: This sounds a lot like an Academy Award speech, but I just have to thank my family, friends, and fans for helping me so much on this journey. I also want to personally thank all the people who have ever caused any conflict in my life: hey ya’ll, you guys are the ones who inspire the best songs and are part of what motivate me to be better than I was yesterday, so thanks for being you…kind of.


Photo credits: Hannah Richardson

Chit Chatting with Singer Marlisa

Written by Jill Sheets


hatsRecently, I had the honor of interviewing up-and-coming singer Marlisa.  Some of you may have recognized her from the sixth season of “The X Factor Australia,” which she won when she was 15. Now, this almost 17-year-old singer is working on new music that will be released soon.  Read on to learn more about her win on “The X Factor,” her new music, and more.


R:  Tell our readers a little bit about yourself and how you got into the music business.

M:  I’ve always loved singing, ever since I was little. I knew straight away that I wanted to be a musician when I grew up, so I performed for various events, including charity events, eisteddfod competitions, and festivals. In 2014, I joined “The X Factor” to give myself a chance and was very lucky to win the competition. These events have helped me to gain experience and exposure in regards to the entertainment industry.


R:  You are working on some new music. Can you tell us anything about it? Do you have a release date?

M:  I have been on the piano, writing new songs, and creating a new sound for some time now. It’s a process I’m really enjoying and which I’m pushing myself with, so I am very excited about releasing these. I’m hoping to have a new single out by Christmas!


R:  Do you have a favorite song so far?

M:  I have so many favorite songs so far. It’s just too difficult to choose one!


R:  Where can people hear or get your music?

M:  My music will be available on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, and you can purchase them at JBHIFI and Sanity.


R:  You were on “The X Factor Australia.” What was that like? Do you remember what you were thinking when you won?

M:  My X Factor experience was very memorable and enjoyable. During that time, I learned so much about the music industry, behind the scenes stuff/how everything works, and most importantly it helped me to gain experience, exposure, and confidence. When I won, I felt very grateful to have been blessed with an achievement that will help me with my future as a musician.


R:  You have grown up since being on “The X Factor.” Other than height, how else have you changed?

M:  Yeah, we all grow up. I guess I have changed a lot since being that girl that won “The X Factor.” I’m turning 17 in October, so naturally my interests, fashion, and influences have changed a lot. I’m writing my own songs now, songs that are an extension of me, and I’m trying to be more creative with the sounds I create. I’m experimenting with it all while still being true to myself and keeping the values that I have grown up to believe in.


R:  If you could tour with any five people, who would they be?

M:  Ronan, of course, but I would also love to tour with Sia, Adele, Meghan Trainor, and Charlie Puth.

marlisa 3

R:  What has been your best memory so far?

M:  My best memory would be when I got signed up with EMA and worked with Ronan and Storm Keating. And, of course, winning “The X Factor!”


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

M:  Yes, I support breast cancer charities. They are very close to my heart, having experienced the loss of my own grandmother, who was very dear to me.


R:  What are five things people may not know about you?

M:  I like to cook, I like to swim, I’m very sports-minded, I am a manga and anime fan, and I love travelling!


R:  It’s not easy being a teenager. What advice do you have for them?

M:  No, it is not easy. Just take your time, enjoy your time as a teenager, remain positive, believe in yourself, and never give up. Life has its ups and downs, and these challenges will only make you stronger as you grow.


R:  Other than this one, what is the strangest question you have ever been asked?

M:  I actually haven’t recently been asked any strange questions!


R:  Are you on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and what are their addresses? What about an official website and/or YouTube page? Do you have a physical address so people can send fan mail?

M:  I have an official website, and I have a Vevo YouTube page which is MarlisaVevo. Fan mail is often sent to the Sony office. My Instagram & Twitter handles are @MarlisaMusic.

marlisa 4

R:  What is it like communicating with your fans? What is the best thing one has ever said or done for you?

M:  It is very inspiring to communicate with fans because knowing that they are supportive and that they enjoy my music makes me happy. The best things fans have done for me are making the effort to draw portraits of me, and continuously supporting me wherever I go.


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

M:  Yes, a huge thank you for all of your support and patience from Day 1. I am very grateful for all that you’ve done for me. Please stay tuned as there are exciting times ahead!


R:  Marlisa, thank you for the interview. It was an honor. Have a great day.

M:  Thank you for having me, it has been a pleasure!

Kina Grannis:  100 Days in Jakarta

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

KinaWhile I haven’t written a review for Kina since 2011, I’ve remained a fan; following her on Facebook where I appreciate her love for animals, and loving every time a song from Stairwells shines a bright light in what might otherwise be a cloudy day.  I concluded the one review I wrote for her by cautioning to “not just dismiss her as a pleasant voice.”  And I still stand by that.  Her lyrics and her kind, happy spirit will still stop me in the midst of whatever I am doing.  She can break me free from a melancholy mood with one syllable, and I am always grateful for those kinds of artists.

So I was saddened to see that she’s been though a tribulation of sorts: while embarking on a tour in Indonesia, she completed one performance and then was detained, facing possible imprisonment for not having the proper work permits.  For 100 days, she did not know what was going to happen to her or her band mates.  They faced an uncertain and undecided future with frustrations I can not even imagine while away from her loved ones, her country, and her dreams.

She wrote two songs in the midst of the storm;  “California” and “For Now.”  “For Now” is about finding contentment in the now.  “California,” however, is my favorite.  I love the longing in her lyrics and her voice, and I understand the yearning to go home.  She takes what can be painful to the soul, wraps it in a precious melody, and makes it beautiful.

If you feel adventurous enough to read of her experiences, go to  The backstory provides a perspective for the songs she penned in the midst of her tribulation, but it doesn’t validate them; they have poignancy and relevance standing on their own.  I would, however, encourage you to read the backstory simply to understand the importance of her list of the twenty five lessons she learned throughout the experience.

My favorites are:

Lesson 1-“If you’re breathing, you have something to be grateful for.  Gratitude is the key to everything.”

Lesson 11-“Getting to exist at all is something to be grateful for, and being alive is the greatest adventure.”

Lesson 25-“You have to choose happiness.  Every day.  Over and over again.  Don’t wait for it to find you.”

I knew before that I love her music, but now I am certain that I adore her.  Because her life lessons are spot on.  We all face struggles and difficult circumstances, but with perspective like this in tact, the days become less of something we simply try to get through and become a life celebrated and a life lived well.  We only get one to journey through, and since we can’t always chose our conditions, we can at least choose happiness.

Please visit her website and download “California” and “For Now” today.  You can thank me later.

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)

Chit Chatting with Singer Kristi Hoopes

Written by:  Jill Sheets


Kristi-Hoopes-Promo2 Recently I had the honor of interviewing singer Kristi Hoopes.  This Colorado native is so relate-able with a love for nature, the Broncos and fried chicken! Her personality shines through in this fun interview!

R:  Tell us about yourself and how you got into the music business?

K:  I’m a proud Colorado native who grew up in the small town of Parker up against the backdrop of the beautiful Rocky Mountains. I couldn’t imagine myself living anywhere else, except for Nashville of course! Growing up here has made me a total nature junkie, so you can always find me somewhere outdoors. Hiking, camping, boating, horseback riding – you name it, I’ll do it! I’m from a family of four and have an older sister who’s in college. I’ll be graduating from high school this year as one of the class valedictorians. I’m a die-hard Broncos fan bleeding orange and blue since birth. My family and I are keeping our fingers crossed for a Super Bowl win this year! I’ve also been a theater geek since I was little, which is actually how my music career got started.

In 2nd grade, I was cast as Ebenezer Scrooge in my elementary school’s musical production of “A Christmas Carol.” None of the boys in my class wanted to audition for the role, so there I was in a bald cap with white sideburns and a top hat! After the show, my music teacher suggested I try out for the talent show. My dad passed his love of country music down to me, so I auditioned with Loretta Lynn’s version of “These Boots Are Made For Walking” and made it in. After my performance that night I knew I loved to sing and entertain, but this industry wasn’t exactly something that anyone in my family had much experience with. To be fair, my dad did play the bass in his high school band “The Spring Water Route” and my mom spun records as a DJ back in the day, but after 30 years in the construction industry, they knew more about building houses than building chords. Yet there was still something about being onstage and singing my heart out that made me decide that this was what I wanted to do with my life. I can’t explain how I knew; I guess you can chalk it up to divine intervention!

Shortly after the talent show I began taking guitar lessons, which led to some serious songwriting. For the first time, I could put the lyrics in my head to a melody. A couple of months after learning to play, I wrote my first really great song which eventually won me my first songwriting award and as they say, the rest is history!

Last summer, I found this app called Lyricord, saw that they were having a songwriting contest and decided to enter myself in it. I ended up winning the competition with my original “At Least It’s Something.” The song was initially about my failed relationship with a guy, but once I was finished with it, I realized that it’s really about trying to hold onto the memories and love you felt for someone you lost. As part of the prize, I was flown out to Nashville to start recording my first album at RCA Studio A (Grand Victor Sound), which completely changed everything. I’m really thankful that Biff Watson, Lyricord’s creator and my producer, took a chance on me. I never thought I’d ever have my music on iTunes and the radio at 17 years old, but it’s happening! All I can say is that I’ve been incredibly blessed.


R:  You have been in the studio recording music.  Can you tell us about it?

K:  I think if I could live in a recording studio, I would! I’ll never forget the moment when I first walked into RCA Studio A. I was so overwhelmed with emotions of gratitude, disbelief, amazement, and joy. It was truly humbling to stand in the same recording booth that so many artists I admire like Dolly Parton, Keith Urban, Elvis Presley, and Lady Antebellum have stood. I had dreamed of that day for the last eight years and it was surreal to have it all unfolding right there in front of me. There’s no better feeling than being surrounded by unbelievably talented musicians and sound engineers who understand exactly what you want your music to sound like and who you are as an artist. I can’t thank them enough for the incredible work they did on this project. Now I’m itching to get back in the studio just talking about it!


R:  Tell us about your song “In My Own Sweet Time.”

K:  Well, prior to going to Nashville, I was presented with different songs to record in addition to “At Least It’s Something” and after listening to a few of the demos, I knew that “In My Own Sweet Time” had to be one of them. It was such a catchy tune with a very fun and youthful vibe, the kind of song you could jam to driving in your car. It’s the kind of song that inspires you to go out and chase your dreams on your own terms, which is exactly what I’m doing! This was my first time recording a song that I didn’t write myself. It was actually written by the successful husband-wife duo Jessi Alexander (I Drive Your Truck, The Climb), Jon Randall (Whiskey Lullaby), and Jennette McCurdy who was Sam Puckett on the Nickelodeon show iCarly.  Recording a song by such talented songwriters was an incredible thrill and honor. It hit so close to home with me that quite honestly; it felt like I wrote it! I’m so glad my fans love the song just as much as I do.


Kristi-Hoopes-Promo3R:  Tell us about some of your other songs?

K:  Every song I’ve written is about something I’ve seen, felt, or done. The places, the people, and the romances I’ve had – or almost had – in my life find their way into my music. I’m an old soul, and that’s the voice I channel in my songs. Somehow, I managed to gain the nickname “The Heartbreak Kid” around my house because I seem to only write break-up ballads, but I’ve been known to crank out some foot stomping songs every now and then! I write from a very personal place and allow myself to be vulnerable with my listeners because I think that gives us an honest relationship. I want my audience to feel like they’re talking to an old friend whenever they listen to my music. The best songs come from the heart. The greatest feeling is when someone comes up to me after a show and says, “That song you wrote really touched me.” I think that’s one of the best parts about writing music and some of my proudest moments have been when I’ve connected with my fans on that level.


R:  Where can people hear or get your music?

K:  You can find my music on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, GhostTunes, Amazon Music, Shazam, and about 30 other online outlets. There are also quite a few radio stations across the nation and overseas playing my songs. All of them can be found on


R:  You also write your own music.  What is your writing process?  Do you start with the words?  How do you come up with the ideas?

K:  It all starts with a spark of inspiration, which usually hits me at the most random times! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started writing a song in the middle of a math quiz or sung lyrics into my phone at the grocery store. Sometimes the melody comes first, other times it’s the lyrics, but the songs are always put together piece by piece. Being the English buff that I am, I love throwing in word play or clever puns. There have been songs that have taken me fifteen minutes to write and others that have taken four years. No two songs have ever been written exactly the same way, and I think that’s what I love most about my writing process. It’s unconventional, unique, and unpredictable. Surprising myself makes the process exhilarating. But once I finish a song and play it, it’s not my song anymore. It’s your song. It’s about whoever made you fall in love and whoever made you cry.  I just love knowing that people enjoy my music.


R:  If you could tour with any five people in the world, who would they be and why?

K:  Kacey Musgraves

She has probably had the greatest influence on my music. We both share a love of the sounds of traditional country, which I think has been lost in the country of today. She knows exactly what she wants to say and how she wants to say it in the cleverest way. Kacey is a breath of fresh air and she’s keeping the country music folks love alive. I think I would probably have a heart attack if I got the opportunity to go on tour with her!

Garth Brooks

I had second row seats to his show back in March and it was the best concert I have ever been to in my life. Garth is such an amazing entertainer and always has so much fun up onstage. I’d love to be able to perform with someone who has that much spirit and energy. And well…it’s Garth.  What else can I say?

James Taylor

In the Hoopes house, James Taylor is king thanks to my dad. I can’t remember ever going on a road trip that didn’t play out with the soothing subtleness of James Taylor behind it. The first song I really fell in love with was James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain.” His music is just good for the soul.

Loretta Lynn

After “These Boots Are Made For Walking,” I learned how to play “Coal Miner’s Daughter” on guitar and it’s become one of my signature show songs. Her tunes are just so sassy and fun to sing. In a way, I owe my career to Lynn and would be beyond honored to tour with her.

Brad Paisley

Brad Paisley’s “H20” Tour was the first country show I ever went to and he’s an incredible entertainer — not to mention an out-of-this-world guitarist! He seems like a really funny guy and I know he loves practical jokes, so I think we’d have a blast on tour together.


R:  What are five things you cannot live without?

K:  Fried chicken.

I can eat fried chicken anywhere, anytime and if given the chance, I will.

My grandmother’s turquoise cross.

I used to call her Grams and she gave it to me shortly before she passed away.  I’ve worn it every day since. It’s become my good luck charm, and there’s something comforting about having her with me wherever I go.

My guitar, Cheyenne.

Yes, I named my guitar! Cheyenne is a gorgeous turquoise blue Yamaha acoustic-electric guitar and I don’t know what I’d do without her. She’s had my back from day one and has been there for every song. Cheyenne is and will always be my first love. No one could ever come between us…except maybe fried chicken.

Cowboy boots.

I have a serious boot addiction! I got my first pair when I was 10 and they were bright pink. I love all of my boots to pieces, but my favorite pair are my Macie Bean’s. My next pair has to be turquoise.

“Breakfast At Tiffany’s”

This is my favorite movie of all time. I’ve probably seen “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” a million times and know every line by heart! I’ve also always loved and looked up to Audrey Hepburn, both as an actress and as a philanthropist. She made elegance look so effortless. Hepburn is the epitome of beauty, both in face and in heart.


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

K:  For the past three years, I’ve been incredibly blessed to work with the Pikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center, a non-profit organization in Colorado Springs that uses horses to provide therapy for kids with mental, physical, and emotional disabilities, as well as veterans with PTSD. The staff and volunteers are some of the most selfless and loving people I have ever met in my life. I sing at their annual “Country Couture Fashion Show & Auction” and love being able to help raise money for the organization. If you’d like to know more about the PPTRC or donate, check out them out


R:  What are your future goals?

K:  To be honest, I just want my music to reach as many people as possible and meet new fans along the way. I’d love to tour all over the world and play in every city I can. My main goal is to create music that not only speaks to me, but to all my fans. I want to remind them of the good times and laughter, but I also want to get them through the struggles and heartaches that life brings. It’s all about making the best music possible, staying true to who I am, and having a little fun along the way. And right now, that’s what I feel like I am doing!


R:  Other than this one, what is the strangest question you have ever been asked?

K:  If you’re 5’10, why do you wear high heels? Answer, because I like them and I can.


R:  What advice would you give teenager girls?

K:  It’s easy to get caught up in self-doubt and fear. We sometimes can be our worst enemy, our greatest obstacle. There are times when I can be really hard on myself, mostly because I’m afraid of failure. But in the words of Jennifer Freeman, “You are too smart to be the only thing standing in your way.” And it’s true. Life will always be full of people who want to tell you who you are, what you can’t do, and try to make you believe it. Don’t let them. Words only have as much power as you give them. Trust your head, listen to your heart, and jump in headfirst. My mom always told me that your head knows what you heart wants, and your heart knows what your soul needs. Those are the words that made me who I am now. You are whoever you choose to be, so choose to be yourself.


R:  What are five things people may not know about you?

K:  I collect every single fortune cookie fortune and keep them in a giant box on my dresser.

I hate mushrooms with a fiery passion.

When it comes to sports on land, you can count me out. Water sports, however, are a whole other story. My family owns a boat and every summer we take it out on the lake. It’s so much fun! I’ve been able to master 180° and 360° rotations on the kneeboard, but it took quite a few wipeouts to get there!

If I weren’t a singer, I would definitely be a detective or an AFT agent. I’m a sucker for a good crime story and love piecing together mysteries. If you can’t find me out in the woods, I’m on the couch watching 20/20 or Investigation Discovery.

Most of the clothes I own are vintage or secondhand. I’ve always been a really smart shopper, and you’d be amazed at what you can find in a consignment shop.  I also like the idea of finding pieces that are one of a kind. I’m not exactly an extreme couponer, but I have been known to leave a few coupons in my best friend’s locker. Hey, sharing is caring especially when it comes to saving a couple of bucks!


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?

K:  For all the latest Kristi Hoopes music and news, go to I’m all over social media and love to get to know my fans, so follow me on:

Facebook –

Twitter –

YouTube –

Instagram –

Pinterest –

I swore to myself that I would never become addicted to Pinterest, but I just couldn’t help it! I love food unconditionally and there are thousands upon thousands of recipes on Pinterest, so when life hands you cuisine concoctions, you pin them.  You know it’s bad when your own mom unfriends you!


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

K:  I want to thank Relate for taking the time to chat with me and hope that everyone out there gets a chance to check out my music! To all of my fans, thank you so much for sticking with me on this journey. If you haven’t had the chance to connect with me on social media, please do because I truly love hearing from you guys. You are the reason why I love doing what I do!


R:  Kristi , thank you for the interview.  It was an honor.  Have a great day.


Tamara Laurel: Runaway

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

Tamara Laurel: RunawayCountry music generally isn’t my thing.  While I will listen without complaint, rarely do the songs resonate on a deeper level than, “Oh, this sounds good.”  So when I listened to Tamara (her pronunciation rhymes with camera) Laurel’s newest release, I was pleasantly surprised by the feelings her songs immediately woke within me.  While I love how she doesn’t use strategically placed steel guitar to fit the “country bill,” nor does she force a twang that simply isn’t her, I adore the fact that she constructs all her music around the stories she tells.  The deep strings splash crimson longing and remorse and poetic phrases like “eyes like mid-July” evoke all the reasons why I listen to music at all and why I am helplessly drawn to songs that speak to the darkest shadows of my heart.

The seven song album begins with “Whiskey.”  While love is once again compared to an addiction, I appreciate the track for her recognition of what isn’t good for her.  The momentum of the song is the best part, however; while the beginning is seasoned with a sense of sadness at the acknowledgement of needing separation, the music builds, representing not only an immediacy, but a freedom.  It sets the stage of a woman who realizes her weakness but refuses to stay there, and it’s empowering.

What follows “Whiskey,” however, is truly what sets her apart from most artists.  And to be honest, I didn’t agree with all that Tamara explores.  “Come On, Come On,” as incredibly enticing as the song is, is nothing more than physical attraction.  She alludes to intimate relationships that transpire way too quickly, and the resulting heartbreak may be of her own making.  But the depth of her analysis, and her honest introspection, create the most precious realizations.  There aren’t many songwriters out there who are this fearless.  Tamara is poetic and beautiful and tragic, but best of all, she is completely real.  The song “Unraveling” will follow me around for the rest of my life; while she promises there is nothing to regret, the song is saturated with mourning of a lost love.  It is hauntingly beautiful…my favorite kind of lovely.  The theme of this album is freedom, but all of it is hinged upon a blossoming courage that only grows in the light of strength.

And she really is my favorite kind of artist.  Her songs create stories that my heart understands, and the hiccups and imperfections reflect a humanness that creates bonds more than it caters to isolation.  I had read her bio and knew that she had to conquer fears that could have prohibited her from realizing her dreams.  I had listened to the songs where she uncovers bravery that uncage her from a lifetime of unhappiness.  So it really should not have surprised me how inspiring she is.  But she did, surprise me, that is.  I hope that you listen to her music and uncover the same strength I discovered.  I hope you read on to find a similar inspiration that I found.

For more information, please visit


Relate:  First memory of music:

Tamara:  I remember being in a car seat in my dad’s car.  Both my parents were in the car, and I remember the song “Sweet Dreams” by Heart.  I remember listening to that song, and while I was maybe 2 or 3, I was asking questions about the lyrics.  I remember my parents thinking that was super weird.


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

T:  Gillian Welch’s “Look at Miss Ohio.”  She’s talking about how her mom wants her to do all these things, and it eludes to her mom pressuring her to get married, trying to get her to settle down and she just wants to run off.  It’s a really cool story.  I just like that she wrote this song about a wild character-this girl who goes against what everyone wants her to do.  She decides she’s going to drive off to Atlanta and live out this fantasy life.  It’s a fun song.  You should listen to it.


R:  If someone was to choose only one song from your album Runaway, which one would you want it to be and why?

T:  I wrote for a long time for this album and we had a ton of songs to choose from.  We narrowed them down to seven songs.  The night before we were to track demos, I wrote “Runaway.”  It happened in 15 minutes.  That night I was like, “Oh, I want to record this song instead of one of the other ones.”  I played it for the producer and the band, and everyone agreed.  So it bumped one of the other songs and made it onto the album.  I think that alone gives it just enough significance-that it happened at just the right time to make it.

It also tells a story and is kind of an anchor for the album.  It tells the story of the transformations I went through where you can be in a situation where you’re unhappy or not treated well, and you kind of hold on because you’re afraid of change or afraid that letting go will bring more pain or you’re just afraid of the new.  This taps into sometimes the only strong thing to do is completely run and start over and work with your circumstances rather than fighting them.

Because of the message of the song and because of the way it appeared, that would be the song I’d want people to listen to.


R:  What can you tell us about the inspiration for this record and why you wrote these songs?

T:  I had a couple years where wild things were happening, and I’m a firm believer in experiences and saying yes to life, even though there are consequences involved, and this has given me a lot of great songwriting opportunities.  I’m always drawn to the formation and solution of romantic relationships.  This album is really me growing up and deciding to take charge of my life and not caring what anyone thinks and sticking up for myself.


R:  I read that you had terrible stage fright and it was one performance at the House of Blues in LA that changed everything for you. This is a two part question:  why were you so afraid to perform solo and what was it about that experience that gave you courage?

T:  I sang in musicals growing up and would kind of hide in the chorus.  I could still sing, but I didn’t have to own anything; it wasn’t really my fault if it didn’t go well.  I think all stage fright is essentially fear of failure and fear of not being able to control your circumstances.  I didn’t grow up learning how to proficiently play music-I’m not one of those virtuosos.  I couldn’t grow up taking voice lessons or anything like that.  Everything I’m doing, it’s just what I think I should be doing.  I learned to play guitar from what I learned on YouTube.  I think I was just insecure about that, and I was terrified to go onstage.

Before that House of Blues show, I couldn’t eat; I was so nervous and sick.  I knew putting myself in that situation where family and friends were in town and it was a big crowd-there was a lot on the line.  I didn’t feel I had a choice.  I had to get up on stage.

There’s a theory that people with really big fears like fear of flying, for example, or fear of performing like I had, that if you expose yourself to it and force yourself through it, you can completely wipe away a life long fear, which is kind of crazy.

I knew that night if I got on stage and it was terrible, it was only going to be a terrible half hour of my life.  And if it wasn’t terrible, then I had just changed everything.  Luckily, it ended up being great, and after that, I was like, I just played at the House of Blues, I can play at these little shows.  I think that’s why it had such a profound impact.


R:  Do you still ever battle nerves or doubt and how do you overcome them?

T:  I don’t get nervous for most shows, I get excited.  I get nervous for filming videos, so I still deal with that.  I think the nature of being an artist is experiencing life.  It’s a really crazy experience to write something extremely personal and put that out there.  Not only are you telling your life story, but you’re also singing to it and composing chords around it, so it’s just very…it can be a very scary place to be.

I think that is the really cool about being a musician, especially nowadays with the internet, is that, the further you go along, the more people you connect with and those doubts are kind of quieted.  I’ve heard from a lot of people who have been helped by the things I was afraid to say because they were afraid to say it or feel it as well.  I think that was good for me to push past the doubts and keep going and be grateful for the experience to do music.


R:  What is it that you love most about music?

T:  I think my favorite part is all these crazy things that fit together.  You have an idea for a song, you write the song, record it, play it live, make a video for it, all these crazy parts.  For me, the one thing that really gets to me is when I start to write a song, there’s usually a feeling of calm and knowing it’s going to be a good one.  Your brain is working so fast, putting this puzzle together, and you can’t get it on paper quickly enough.  I love that.  It doesn’t happen often.  I’ll write 60-70 songs in a year, and only 7 songs that are “good enough” to make the record.  It’s a really rare, fleeting feeling, but your brain is kind of solving this perfect fusion between melody, harmony, and lyric, and it’s really cool.  Every song writer I’ve talked to describes this feeling as well.


R:  If you could tell your thirteen year old self one thing, what would it be?

T:  Believe in yourself more.  Own who you are, even if it’s a little different than other people, because one day those things that make you slightly different will make you really happy and will let you live the life you always wanted to live.

And don’t be in such a rush to grow up.


R:  What is your definition of success?

T:  I think I felt successful when I got on stage at the House of Blues, and I think everything from that point on has been icing on the cake, so to speak.  I was so scared of it; it was a world I didn’t know if I belonged in, and that House of Blues show…that’s a memory that’s once in a lifetime.  I’ll be able to tell my grandchildren, and that was a highlight.  And after that, then I’ll make an EP, after that I’ll make an album and I want to play guitar on the album, and I want to release the album, and play these shows and make a music video.  I think I try to have no expectations so everything is fantastic.

In general, the definition of success is doing your best while being good to others and constantly pushing your boundaries.


R:  Pick one of the two:  beach or the mountains?

T:  Mountains


R:  Jeans or maxi dress?

T:  Jeans


R:  Bowl of ice cream or bag of potato chips

T:  It kind of depends on the day…bag of potato chips


R:  Chick flick or suspenseful thriller?

T:  Suspenseful thriller


R:  Piano or electric guitar

T:  Electric guitar



Love and the Outcome: Ocean Way Sessions: Live

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins
love and the outcomeIt’s been a difficult couple of years for me.  I keep putting myself out there, making bold efforts for God, and the results never pan out the way I think they should.  I have felt completely and utterly dejected.  Maybe a little ignored. Abandoned, even.  Yes, by God.  My futile attempts have been met with a stony silence, and doubt surfaces, mixed in with a little anger.  Saying all this makes me feel a little ashamed, but I only say it because I’m thinking I’m not the only one who feels it.  Certainly, I’m not the only one.

So, literally, thank God for little EP’s like this one that help put things back in their proper perspective.  Love and the Outcome are a married couple from way up north who packed all their dreams, and fueled by faith, moved to Music City to pursue the artistic releases God placed in their hearts.  The Ocean Way Sessions include five songs from their full length album, plus the previously unreleased track “Home;” all of which were performed and recorded in front of live audience.  The result is six gems that have reminded me of what not only are the most important “things” in my life, but the relationship I sometimes ignore because I get so busy doing.

Hands down, my favorite lyrics unfold in the song song “King of My Heart.”  “Lord, help me believe what I believe.” My disbelief is often what makes me want to run in the other direction and hide, but this song reminds me to bring it to Him; my doubts are never surprising to Him, nor do they make Him love me less.  The song basically is about remembering that He is the center amidst all the pursuits the world tells us we need to chase after.  Do I want a relationship with Him, most of all, or do I want these “accomplishments”  that I justify by saying they’re for Him, more?  When I find myself opening up to Him in prayer, or when I sincerely search for His counsel by opening the Bible, the peace that overwhelms me is better than any fleeting moment of success.

The song “What a Promise” reminds me that I am not alone, and most importantly, it reassures me that I am loved.  The lyric of the bridge “You give strength to the faithful/to rise up on eagle’s wings” gives me the hope that sustains me through all the disappointments.  He has my back.  While I may never see the fruits of my labors, none of them are in vain.  He has His reasons, and His promises are never broken. Equally as important to me is the song, “Heart Like You.”  The first verse reminds me that there is nothing in life as important as Him…”Burn away all the things I hold tight.”

“Story You’re Building,” sonically, is my favorite.  I love the acoustics that are prevalent in the live recording, but the ability to tell a story and weave it into a melody are what draws me in.  Love and the Outcome share many similarities to the beloved duo All Sons and Daughters, and it is songs like this one that reaffirms that, yes, I need BOTH bands in my life.

The song “He is With Us” says it best:  “We can trust our God/He knows what He’s doing/’Though it might hurt now/We won’t be ruined.”  It is this promise that has sustained me, through the harshest of disappointments, and best of all, it is probably the very same promise that has given Love and the Outcome the courage to share their songs and His truth with others who take the time to listen.

For more information, please visit and be sure to download the live EP today.