Rhonda Towns always knew that her voice would bring people together. Growing up as the daughter of a pastor, her father encouraged her to sing his favorite hymns to the congregation prior to his sermons. Southern church hymns like, “Amazing Grace,” “Jesus Loves Me,” “This Little Light of Mine,” and “Rock of Ages” were staples that Rhonda would sing. The uplifting beat and simplistic storylines is what makes them so comforting and so easy to find solace in. Rhonda loves country music for the same reason.
Growing up in Alabama, Rhonda was given the foundation from an early age the importance of helping and reaching out to others. She would deliver meals to the elderly in the community with her brother and mother and remembers what a moving experience it was. Not only was she actively involved in community outreach, she was a member of the student body government, school choir, cheerleading squad, track and field, and the volleyball team. She entered school talent shows and won, knowing then that she possessed something special. Whether in church, on the school bus, in the gym or just singing in the rain - her voice had the ability to unite people.
Rhonda believes her unique sound is created through her conviction to the words, “Whether I’ve written the lyrics or the storyline has been written by another - and being able to feel and translate the lyrics with emotion as the messenger is to deliver its meaning.” Her songwriting process is quite literally a dream. Most of the songs Rhonda has written have come to her while she was asleep. She says she can actually hear the music and the key of the song in these dreams, waking up immediately to voice record what she is hearing.
Obviously, family has been such a huge inspiration for Rhonda throughout her career. Her mother always said, “If they can do it, you can do it too!” while her father’s advice was, “Never give up and when you feel like you can no longer stand, you stand there anyway.” When asked what advice she would give to an inspiring artist she said, “Stay close to your loved ones. Surround yourself with people, and a team, you can trust and who actually cares about you and your career.”
Performing live is such a blessing that all artists have now realized to never take for granted. Rhonda’s favorite part about her performances is the opportunity to form a connection with the audience; hoping to make each and every one of them feel the words that are coming out of her mouth. She shares stories in her songs, and she hopes it is one they can understand and relate to. Her favorite venues are Country Thunder USA, CMA Music Festival, Bluebird Cafe, Douglas Corner, Chandler City for the Arts and most importantly, Church. Rhonda has had the privilege and joy to work with Norro Wilson (producer for Kenny Chesney/Reba/Sara Evans/Shania Twain), Harold Shedd, Jim Cotton, Billy Williams and Billy Sherril.
Rhonda’s favorite song is her current single, “Walking In Your Wonderful Light.” Speaking about what this song means to her Rhonda said, “I recorded this song back in 2012 - before I knew that I was headed toward a very sad time in my life. I went through a personal experience and didn’t want to sing again! This song is my resurrection song. It was my confirmation that when our Heavenly Father said these last words on the Cross, ‘It is Finished,’ it means that we are in a finished work; it’s already done!” Rhonda listened to the recording of the song following the conclusion of her twenty-two year marriage. She felt a confirmation wash over her and she knew she was walking in God’s wonderful light (despite not feeling like it at the time), she just had to keep walking and not give up! It is no wonder that Rhonda said her motivational word for the year is, “Love.” The love from our Heavenly Father is what encouraged her to push forward so she could release this song as a message to others who are battling depression, sadness and pain. Rhonda says, “‘Walking In Your Wonderful Light” is the promise that He would bring me back to my true love and that is to sing for Him!
You can follow Rhonda at www.rhondatowns.com.
Singer-songwriter, brother-and-sister duo Juna N Joey's new video, "Something Good To Miss" is now available. The video was directed by the 4AristsByArtists, Director, Alex Fuenmayor. Talking about their day on the set with Alex, Joey said, "Alex is a real professional, I never dreamed that we could do a video on a set like this. He worked so hard, all day long and didn't even break for lunch. The knowledge that he has about lighting and sound is amazing. We have done a lot videos in the past and this one is by far the best" Juna commented that, "Alex let me design the set from the props department, that was so fun. He listened to our opinion and made us feel so comfortable, utilizing the time so wisely and even did stills and an acoustic video because he had spare time.
“Something Good To Miss” is the lead single off the duo’s self-titled EP, which will be released in early June. The upbeat, hopeful tune features an infectious melody, modern production that packs a punch, and Juna N Joey’s signature rich harmonies. Produced by Ken Royster (Luke Combs, ”Hurricane”), “Something Good to Miss” showcases the duo’s unique brand of pop-country.
The song written by the duo with co-writers, Kayilann Lowe and Bill Diluigi, tells the story of a narrator unexpectedly finding love and realizing at the moment they are away from that person, they found “something good to miss.” With lyrics “24/7 365, you’re sneaking up, hanging out in my mind. ‘Til that next kiss I hold onto this, I’ve got somethin’ good, somethin’ good to miss,” the song has a timeless message that people of all ages can find relatable; a quality that listeners will often find present in Juna N Joey’s music.
From West Palm Beach, FL, Juna N Joey has organically developed a robust and loyal following after posting covers on YouTube, earning over 7 million collective views. Between opportunities with DreamworksTV and Nickelodeon’s “America’s Most Musical Family,” interest from “America's Got Talent,” and a tour with “American Idol” alum Cade Foehner, to say they have remained busy in recent years is an understatement.
Their sound is described as pop-country, and the duo cites The Carpenters, Lady A, and Dan + Shay as influences. Juna, at 16, is a charismatic singer-songwriter with the confidence of a seasoned professional. In addition to singing, she also plays acoustic guitar, piano, and keyboard. She first started developing her songwriting skills at the tender age of 11. Joey, at 18, is also a singer-songwriter with a powerful voice. He is also, a multi-instrumentalist, playing the lead guitarist, sax, and piano in their band.
To learn more about Juna N Joey, please visit their website.
Country Artist Karissa Ella is putting her spin on some country classics. The Ohio born, Nashville resident has released her version of 90s legend Patty Loveless’ “Blame It on Your Heart,” which you can find here. This is not the only cover Ella has, she has released three other country classics along with “Blame It on Your Heart” in her series The Acoustic Sessions, you can find the full series in the link above. Ella “was a small-town girl with big, crazy dreams”. She describes her childhood in Ohio as “Every time my parents would take me to a concert, I would just imagine how cool it would be to be on stage, having everyone sing along to your songs. My parents have been more than supportive and actually pushed me in this direction. Their belief in me is the main reason why I am pursuing my dream today.”
Ella was surrounded by music growing up and when it came time to decide what she wanted, she applied to Belmont University. She describes what life is like in Nashville as it has given her the chance of “being surrounded by music and creative people (which) enhanced my decision to pursue music full-time.” Karissa chose country music because “there is something about the rawness, truthfulness and relatability country music has to offer. To me, country music hits your soul a little differently and gives you all the feels. I find country music to be healing in every way.” While Ella’s favorite part about her career is performing, she has her eyes on her dream venue of the "Blossom Music Center." where she grew up seeing her favorite artists and was inspired to become an artist herself.
Karissa cites Carly Pearce and Luke Combs as her influences. She also looks up to so many independent artists working hard to get noticed. "Being an artist is tough, but luckily Nashville is a great town and we all support one another.” Ella details her songwriting process as that “Everyone's songwriting process is different and mine has been changing a lot! This pandemic has really given me opportunities to look within and write about more important things in life. It has also inspired new stories and experiences! I love co-writing with friends and find the collaboration process as a whole to be exciting!” Her advice to aspiring artists coming up behind her is to network, collaborate and have fun. Figure out what your sound is or who you want to be and stick with it! As it is important to be your true authentic self.
Ella thinks of her music as if “Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert had a kid that was in sweatpants drinking a margarita! She “brings the sass but still has songs that are light-hearted and fun!”
You can find Karissa Ella and her music on all digital platforms and across social media @karissaellamusic on Instagram and @KarissaElla_ on Twitter, and for tour dates and more check out karissaella.com.
Author: Charles Hacker
For Morgan Johnson, music came to her. Growing up to country music, it was after The Chicks concert when Morgan picked up the guitar. When given the opportunity, Morgan performed at local open mics and bars. Following her friend to Nashville who was dating Brett Young at the time, she instantly knew it was the place for her. Moving only months later, Morgan released her debut single “Good Guy.”
A pop-country singer, fans of Maren Morris and Kacey Musgraves will love Morgan’s music too. She adores country music for the people saying, “they are incredible humble and good people.” With that in mind, her writing is vulnerable and tells the whole truth. Blended with her beautiful and strong vocals, her music is bound to give you chills.
You can listen to Morgan’s latest single “Whatever Helps You Sleep at Night” on all digital platforms and on her website here.
Brandy Clark released her third studio album, Your Life is a Record almost a year ago, just as the world stepped into the recent pandemic.
Twelve months on, and the Morton County native earned two Grammy award nominations, one for Best Country Solo Performance for Who You Thought I Was, and one for Best Country Album for the wider record. It capped an unusual year, both in music and the wider world, with Clark admitting that whilst this wasn’t her first Grammy nomination, it was the most impactful given the situation.
"Not my first time, but definitely the most impactful time for me," she said in a recent interview. "We've all had to promote albums in a crazy time and pivot into no touring and doing what we do online. I think with the year we've been in, to have this album be acknowledged is really huge to me."
Uniquely, the only other albums in the Best County Album category were also all-female or female-fronted acts, an empowering occurrence that had Clark utterly delighted. “I do love that it's all women," she adds. "As women, I feel like we have to fight a little harder to be heard sometimes and so at least the Grammys are saying, 'We hear you.'"
Clark has gained a reputation as a smart storyteller and was once even described as one of the most talented songwriters on Music Row. Her output has certainly been consistent, and she alluded to her consistency when discussing her love of poker at the ACM Awards in Las Vegas, back in 2017. Clark had been nominated as New Female Artist of the Year, an accolade she missed out on to Maren Morris, but she revealed ahead of the ceremony she was a fan of Texas Hold ‘em, explaining how she took time out from the awards to play poker games. When asked for some advice, she revealed a secret that perhaps not only describes her poker playing, but also her approach to her musical career.
“Be consistent, whatever you do, whatever you hold on to, whatever you throw away, be consistent with it. I get super excited and start grabbing all my chips to put them all in. No poker face, no bluff!”
That consistency has since helped Clark establish herself as a major force on the worldwide country scene. Big Day in a Small Town reached number eight on the US County Charts, and number three in the United Kingdom. Your Life is a Record might be nominated for a Grammy here in the US, but it was also recognized as a powerful and insightful album across the Atlantic, reaching number two in the UK charts.
Sadly, Clark missed out on both Grammy awards this year. She was pipped to Best Country Solo Performance by When Amy Prays by Vince Gill, whilst the Best Album went to Wildcard by Miranda Lambert. Clark is a long-time friend of Lambert, having appeared on her 2011 record Four The Record, and co-written the hits Two Rings Shy and Mama's Broken Heart.
Despite not picking up a gong, Clark has now been nominated for a Grammy seven times, and if she remains as consistent in her songwriting as she claims she is around a poker table, it will not be long before more follow.
Author: Lisa Gansky from New York, NY, USA.