“You should always get outside of the box,” Samantha Fish says while discussing her boundary-breaking new album Belle of the West. “Challenging yourself is how you grow.”
After launching her recording career in 2009, Samantha Fish quickly established herself as a rising star in the contemporary blues world. Since then, the charismatic young singer-guitarist-songwriter has earned a reputation as a rising guitar hero and powerful live performer, while releasing a series of acclaimed albums that have shown her restless creative spirit consistently taking her in new and exciting musical directions.
The New York Times called Fish “an impressive blues guitarist who sings with sweet power” and “one of the genre’s most promising young talents.” Her hometown paper The Kansas City Star noted, “Samantha Fish has kicked down the door of the patriarchal blues club” and observed that the young artist “displays more imagination and creativity than some blues veterans exhibit over the course of their careers.”
Having already made it clear that she’s more interested in following her heart than she is in repeating past triumphs, Samantha Fish delivers some of her most compelling music to date with Belle of the West, her fifth studio album. The deeply soulful, personally charged 11-song set showcases Fish’s sublime acoustic guitar skills as well as her rootsy, emotionally resonant songwriting.
Such memorable new originals as “American Dream,” “Blood in the Water,” “Need You More” and “Don’t Say You Love Me” demonstrate the artist’s knack for organic Americana songcraft, while a trio of cover tunes—R.L. Burnside’s “Poor Black Mattie,” Lillie Mae’s “Nearing Home” and the Jimbo Mathus-penned title track—attest to her substantial interpretive skills as well as her varied musical interests.
“To me, this is a natural progression,” Fish notes. “It’s a storytelling record by a girl who grew up in the Midwest. It’s very personal. I really focused on the songwriting and vocals, the melodies and emotion, and on bringing another dimension to what I do. I wasn’t interested in shredding on guitar, although we ended up with a few heavier tracks. I love Mississippi blues; there’s something very soulful and very real about that style of music, so this was a chance to immerse myself in that.”
Fish recorded Belle of the West in the relaxed, rural creative atmosphere of the legendary Zebra Ranch Studios in the North Hills of Mississippi with producer Luther Dickinson (of North Mississippi Allstars fame), with whom she worked previously on her 2015 album Wild Heart. The studio team included some of the region’s most iconoclastic musicians, including Dickinson, solo artist and Jack White associate Lillie Mae (whose distinctive vocals are featured on “Nearing Home”), much-traveled juke- joint blues artist Lightnin’ Malcolm (whose featured on “Poor Black Mattie”), Squirrel Nut Zippers founder Jimbo Mathus, upright bassist and beloved solo artist Amy LaVere, Tikyra Jackson, Trina Raimey and Shardé Thomas, granddaughter of the legendary Southern bluesman Otha Turner.
“I wanted to do this acoustic-electric record, and tap into the style and swagger of Mississippi,” Fish states, adding, “Any time you dive into another place, another vibe and a new group of people, you’re challenging yourself to grow musically. I felt very at home a Zebra Ranch, and I’ve known Luther and Malcolm for years, so it was a very comfortable situation. When you’re making a record like this, it has to feel natural if you want people to respond to it.
Belle of the West follows on the heels of Fish’s March 2017 release Chills & Fever, which achieved top 10 status in the Billboard Blues charts. Here she expanded her stylistic arsenal to take on a set of lesser-known vintage R&B gems, with help from members of garage-soul stalwarts the Detroit Cobras. “Having these two very different records come out back to back this year has been really liberating,” says Samantha.
The creative drive that fuels Belle of the West and Chills & Fever has been a crucial element of Samantha Fish’s approach from the beginning. Growing up in a musical family in Kansas City, Missouri, she became obsessed with music early life, taking up drums before switching to guitar at the age of 15. By the time she was 20, she had formed her own trio and self-released her first album. She soon caught the ear of the renowned blues label Ruf Records, which in 2011 released Girls with Guitars, which teamed her with fellow axewomen, Cassie Taylor and Dani Wilde. The same year saw Ruf release Fish’s solo studio debut Runaway. The album was named Best Artist Debut at the 2012 Blues Music Awards in Memphis.
Black Wind Howlin’ (2013) and Wild Heart (2015) followed, winning considerable critical acclaim and further establishing Fish as a prominent presence in the blues community. Wild Heart reached the top slot on Billboard’s blues chart. She also collaborated with blues-rock veterans Jimmy Hall and Reese Wynans on the 2013 project The Healers. The same year, she jammed onstage with blues icon Buddy Guy and guested on Devon Allman’s album Turquoise.
Fish continues to maintain the same hardworking, prolific approach that’s carried her this far. “I think I’ve always had that,” she says. “Music is my life, so what other choice do I have but to go out and make music? We do tour quite a bit, and maybe it’s kind of crazy to put out two dramatically different albums in one year. But I like to work hard. This is who I am and this is what I do, and when I’m writing and recording and touring is when I feel the most like myself. And now we have a moment where people are paying attention, so I have to make the most of it. I feel like I have a lot to say right now, so why not say it?”
As far as Samantha Fish is concerned, her musical future is an open road. “I’m never gonna be a traditional blues artist because that’s not who I am,” she asserts. “But it’s all the blues for me. When Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf came out, what they were doing didn’t sound like anything that had been done in blues before. You’ve gotta keep that kind of fire and spirit. I’m never gonna do Muddy Waters better than Muddy Waters, so I have to be who I am and find my best voice.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Brooke Williamson has carved out an impressive résumé full of leading roles and professional achievement, such as being the youngest female chef to ever cook at the James Beard House and winning Bravo’s “Top Chef” Season 14 in Charleston. Although officially beginning her career at the young age of 17, Williamson always wanted to be a chef for as long as she can remember. “I love creating things that make people happy, and I’ve found that food genuinely does that,” she explains.
Williamson began her culinary career as a teacher’s assistant at the Epicurean Institute of Los Angeles, followed by securing her first kitchen position as a pastry assistant at Fenix at the Argyle Hotel, under the tutelage of Michelin- starred Chef Ken Frank. Her undeniable star quality and concentrated creative energy brought her to Chef Michael McCarty’s nationally acclaimed restaurant Michael’s of Santa Monica, where she worked her way up from line cook to being their youngest sous chef. Desiring to travel and experience other restaurants, Williamson later staged at the renowned Daniel restaurant by Chef and Owner Daniel Boulud in New York City. Two years later, Williamson was appointed her first executive chef position at the notable Los Angeles restaurant Boxer. Following that, she opened the Brentwood eatery Zax as Executive Chef, where she began to develop her signature California-inspired cuisine—infused with local ingredients, global flavors and centered around the idea that simplicity goes a long way. While at Zax, she also met her husband and business partner Nick Roberts.
The two opened their first independent venture together a couple of years later, Amuse Café in Venice, followed by Beechwood restaurant soon after, earning them the title of “Rising Star Chefs” from StarChefs in 2004. Although both are now closed, in 2009, the wife and husband team opened Hudson House, an elevated gastropub in Redondo Beach, followed by The Tripel in 2011, a modern American and craft beer dining destination in the neighboring beachfront community of Playa del Rey. During that time, Williamson became certified by The Court of Master Sommeliers, given her strong interest in wine that first sparked in the early 2000s after traveling extensively through France and Spain. In 2014, the culinary couple debuted a unique four-in-one-concept, Playa Provisions, featuring a grab-and-go marketplace, King Beach; an artisanal ice cream shop, Small Batch; a seafood dining spot, Dockside; and an intimate whiskey bar, Grain. In June 2015, Williamson and Roberts opened Tripli-Kit, a culinary-focused retail store, selling unique kitchen gadgets, cookbooks, and other cooking essentials. In October 2016, the duo debuted their fifth venture in Playa Vista, a fast-casual, Hawaiian concept called Da Kikokiko, celebrating Hawaii’s popular street foods, including poké, shave ice, and musubi. Most recently, the couple opened their second Small Batch artisanal ice cream shop in the family-friendly neighborhood of Mar Vista. Williamson won Bravo’s “Top Chef” Season 14 in Charleston in March 2017 and a few years prior was a runner-up on “Top Chef” Season 10 in Seattle, which catapulted her career. She’s also participated on other national shows like Bravo’s “Top Chef Duels,” Esquire network’s “Knife Fight” (where she took home the win), and starred as the host and mentor on MTV’s “House of Food.” During her day-to-day operations, she works alongside Roberts creating new menus, running the front and back of the house, and managing their multiple concepts.
When she finds time outside of her many ventures, Williamson stays active by running, bike riding, and playing chase with her 9-year-old son, Hudson.
Award-winning writer and Louisville native Susan Reigler is the author of Kentucky Bourbon Country: The Essential Travel Guide (now in its second edition), and is a co-author of The Bourbon Tasting Notebook (with Michael Veach), The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book and More Kentucky Bourbon Cocktails (with Joy Perrine). Her other books are Kentucky Sweet & Savory: Finding the Artisan Foods and Beverages of the Bluegrass State and The Complete Guide to Kentucky State Parks. From 1992 to 2007, Reigler was the restaurant critic, beverage columnist, and travel writer for the Louisville Courier-Journal. She has also written about bourbon for Wine Enthusiast, Malt(now Whiskey) Advocate, and LEO (Louisville Eccentric Observer). She has been a judge for the James Beard Foundation Restaurant Awards since 1997 and in 2015 she was invited to join Les Dames d’Escoffier International, a society of women culinary professionals.
A certified Executive Bourbon Steward, Reigler has lead bourbon tastings from Seattle to Savannah as well as tastings to benefit non-profit organizations including Locust Grove, the Falls of the Ohio Foundation, and Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill. She has been a judge for craft spirits awards and numerous bourbon cocktail contests and she regularly helps restaurants and retailers select barrels from distilleries for private bourbon bottlings, including Party Mart in Louisville as a member of its three-person Bourbon Board of Directors. Reigler is also the current president of the Bourbon Women Association, which has members across the United States.
A graduate of Indiana and Oxford Universities, she is a Research Associate in Biology at Indiana University Southeast where her research examines the possible effects of bourbon warehouse staining on polymorphism in Geometrid moths. She lives in Louisville.
Graham Elliot an award-winning chef, restaurateur, television personality and cookbook author. Elliot, a self-proclaimed “Navy brat” who has traveled the world and all fifty US states, has accrued many prestigious accolades including multiple James Beard Foundation Nominations. At age 27, Elliot became the youngest four-star chef to be named in any major U.S. city and was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Chefs” in 2004. In May of 2008, Elliot opened his eponymous restaurant, Graham Elliot, which went on to become one of only 15 restaurants in the U.S. to be awarded two Michelin stars.
“Food to me, in one word, is ‘creativity’ or ‘expression.’ It’s simple, ‘This is who I am at this point in time, and this is what I want to cook for you.”
In 2016 after 10 seasons with the MasterChef & MasterChef Jr. franchise, Chef Elliot left the show to join Bravo’s Emmy Award-winning hit cooking competitions, Top Chef as a full-time judge alongside Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi, and Gail Simmons. Beginning 2019, Graham will join up alongside former Iron Chef, Cat Cora and restaurateur, food maven and NY Times best-selling cookbook author Ayesha Curry and Cat Cora in a new family-driven competition series on ABC, Family Food Fight.
As a life-long baseball enthusiast, Major League Baseball has recently tapped him to be the host of their MLB Grub Tour as well as their Culinary Correspondent. Elliot, an avid music lover, and guitarist in his own right is also Culinary Director of the Lollapalooza music festival, an honor he’s held for the past decade.
As of February 2018, Elliot launched his first restaurant project in Asia, Coast at MGM Cotai. In 2013, Graham decided to make a life change and focus on his health and family, and to date, has lost an amazing 150 pounds (starting at 400 and now down to 250). Since then he has run a marathon and continued to keep the weight off so that he can spend more quality time with his wife Allie and his three boys, Mylo, Conrad, and Jedediah.
As far back as she can remember, Joyce has had a passion for chemistry. She earned a Master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Louisville’s Speed Scientific School, and for 15 years worked as a process engineer in industrial-scale distillation. She then spent a decade teaching high school chemistry and physics before her husband Bruce’s dream of opening a distillery reignited her passion for the distillation process—and the rest, as they say, is history.
Her deep love for farm life, as well as her many years working her family’s land, have given her invaluable insight into growing the wide variety of crops used in Jeptha Creed’s products. It has also inspired the distillery’s distinct ground-to-glass maxim. In addition to being a Master Distiller and owner of Jeptha Creed, Joyce is a devoted mother of two who has a passion for all things Kentucky. She couldn’t be prouder to carry on the state’s long history of distilling the finest spirits in the world.
At a time when most people feel constantly distracted by technology and barraged by the news, authenticity and straightforward honesty are paramount. There’s something about the music of The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys that cuts right through the noise of the world and speaks plainly to the soul. Formed in the Smoky Mountains, The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys are at once exactly what you would expect and not at all what you would expect from a tattooed East Tennessee Bluegrass outfit. No strangers to hard work, the boys are as much at home riding in their 1965 GM Tour bus as they are crawling underneath to fix it when it needs maintenance. But they take pride in being ambassadors of their genre, and the group has brought their music from rural bluegrass festival stages to the rock clubs of Europe, with stunning results. “I think to a certain extent everyone is just craving music that they can feel, and any music that feels real will reach any audience,” says CJ Lewandowski, the group’s founder, “We want to put bluegrass right where it’s least expected”.
Lewandowski was working at Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery in Sevierville, TN when the band first formed. The distillery employed musicians to play for visitors seven days a week, and Lewandowski, who primarily plays Mandolin and sings, was occasionally hired to fill in when the entertainment didn’t show. Eventually, the distillery approached him about forming a band for a full-time slot, so he reached out to long-time music friends Jereme Brown, who plays banjo for the group, and Josh Rinkel, who plays guitar. “Jereme was doing a lot of welding work at that time, and Josh was running a sign company”, says Lewandowski, “I think we were all ready to do something new, something with our music but we didn’t know when or how”. Bassist Jasper Lorentzen happened to be working in the tasting room at the distillery, and he turned out to be the perfect final addition to the band. The four friends played multiple times a week for a year and a half, honing their band sound, meanwhile, the word was spreading about their music. “The first gig we played out of town was a festival in Alberta, Canada, and a week later we went on a two-week tour of Europe, it was crazy”, says Lewandowski.
Material for the group’s debut album “Back To The Mountains”, was a combination of original songs and old numbers that honor the group’s mentors and bluegrass heroes. “We love to dig up old songs that haven’t been heard in years and bring them back into the spotlight”, explains Lewandowski. It’s no surprise, then, that their latest single “Next Train South”, is a song cut by one of Lewandowski’s teachers from his native Missouri. “This song hasn’t been recorded since 1974 when it was recorded by Dub Crouch, Norman Ford, and the Bluegrass Rounders,” he says. “Dub was a guy that I learned from back in the day. He was a close friend, and I was with him the day before he died. He was a popular guy for his region, but his music was not as well known on the national circuit. That’s why we love to sing these songs because when we take these songs and bring them to a larger audience, our heroes and their music will not be forgotten”.
The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys passion for bluegrass is as clear as it is contagious. With a heavy touring schedule across the United States and Europe and a recently signed record deal with the esteemed Rounder Records, the Boys are well on their way to becoming the quintessential bluegrass band of their generation. Despite all of their recent success, they maintain a humble perspective. “Bluegrass has left such a mark on us that we feel like we owe something back to the music”, says Lewandowski. “We want to do something for the music to show our appreciation… There’s no telling what could have happened to us, what we would have become if we hadn’t found this music. It’s gotten us through a lot, the good and the bad. When I think about all of the damn medications that I didn’t have to take because I had music to turn to. We didn’t have to go to the doctor and pay for something to make us feel better, because we had this music, so we really want to honor it by bringing it out of the shadows and onto new stages and wider audiences. Because we know that if we can bring Bluegrass to new folks, those folks will come with us and support the bluegrass community.”
Born in Chattanooga and now based in Johnson City, Amythyst Kiah’s commanding stage presence is matched by her raw and powerful vocals—a deeply moving, hypnotic sound that stirs echoes of a distant and restless past.
Accompanied interchangeably with banjo, acoustic guitar, or a full band, her eclectic influences span decades, finding inspiration in old-time music, alternative rock, folk, country, and blues.
Our Native Daughters, her recent collaboration with Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla, and Allison Russell (Birds of Chicago), has delivered a full-length album produced by Rhiannon Giddens and Dirk Powell, Songs of Our Native Daughters (out now on Smithsonian Folkways). NPR described the opening track, Black Myself, written by Amythyst, as “the simmering defiance of self-respect in the face of racism.” The supergroup will hit the road in July with a series of special dates that include performances at Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian Museum of African American History & Culture as well as the Newport Folk Festival. Most recently, the group has been nominated for Duo/Group of the Year at the 2019 Americana Honors & Awards.
Amythyst regularly tours the United Kingdom and has performed at Celtic Connections, Southern Fried Festival, Cambridge Folk Festival, the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, and SummerTyne Americana Festival. She is a crowd favorite at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion in the U.S. and has shined at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, Winnipeg Folk Festival, and opening for artists such as the Indigo Girls, Rhiannon Giddens, Dom Flemons, Old Crow Medicine Show, First Aid Kit, Darrell Scott, and Tim O’Brien.
Provocative and fierce, Amythyst’s ability to cross boundaries is groundbreaking and simply unforgettable.
Matt is the chef/partner of the critically-acclaimed barbecue restaurant Pig Beach located in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Matt first earned his BBQ chops during his time working on America’s highly competitive barbecue teams, Salty Rinse, receiving 2nd place medal for Whole Hog in 2015 and 1st Place for Best Sauce at the annual Memphis in May World Championship. Prior to opening his own restaurants, Matt was the Chef de Cuisine of Del Posto and during is tenure, the restaurant received a coveted four-star review from the New York Times, and the Relais & Chateaux distinction. Raised in the small upstate New York town of New Hartford in an extremely tight-knit Italian-American-Lebanese family where he began his culinary training at a very young age by rolling meatballs and house-made pasta with his nona.
Today, Matt is a frequent guest chef on The Today Show and has appeared on NBC’s The Chew and DirecTV’s Fantasty Zone.
Chef Jose Salazar was born in Colombia South America and was raised in Queens NY. Chef Salazar got his start in restaurants as a bartender and waiter at some of New York’s hottest establishments- among them, Donatella Arpia’s Bellini restaurant. Although the front of the house is where he started, it was the kitchen that really caught his eye. This prompted him to enroll in the culinary program at the New York Restaurant School. Upon graduating in 2001 he landed an internship with famed Chef Jean George Vongerichten at his namesake restaurant; Jean George. After completing the internship, he went on to work with some of New York’s most celebrated chefs and restaurateurs, including Geoffrey Zacharian of Town, Josh De’ Chellis of Sumile, and Eric and Bruce Bromberg of Blue Ribbon. However, it was Jose’s four years working with Chef Thomas Keller that made the most palpable impression on his cooking philosophies. In 2003 Jose was hired as chef de partie to be a part of the opening staff of the highly acclaimed Per-Se restaurant. Then in 2006, he was instrumental in the opening of another of Chef Keller’s projects; Bouchon Bakery, where he became the Executive Sous-Chef.
In 2008, Chef Salazar took his knowledge and experience to Cincinnati Ohio, where he was tapped to be the Executive Chef of The historical Cincinnatian Hotel and Palace restaurant. It’s there that Jose was able to hone his style of cooking, incorporating the ingredients and techniques of the Americas, Europe, and Japan. Since his arrival to the Queen City, Jose has received many favorable reviews, including 5 stars (the highest rating) from Polly Campbell of The Cincinnati Enquirer. He’s also garnered national attention- In 2011 Food and Wine magazine awarded him the title of people’s choice “Best New Chef”.
In December of 2013 Chef Salazar and his wife Ann opened Salazar, their much-anticipated restaurant in the Over the Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati. Immediately after opening it was clear that Salazar was going to be an instant hit. Their modern bistro is packed nightly with diners eating foods such as duck rillettes, fried oyster sliders, rib-eye steaks, and veal tongue al’a plancha. This little forty-five seater, while just around three years old is recognized as one of the best in the city by the dining public and critics alike.
In August of 2015, Jose and Ann opened Mita’s, a 135 seat restaurant located in the heart of downtown Cincinnati. This restaurant features the food and drinks of Spain and Latin America with a formal but laid back design. In just a year and a half Mita’s has already set it’s self apart with wonderful food, service, and ambiance. It has received praise from countless publications, both locally and nationally. Chef Salazar and Mita’s have received nominations for “Best Chef”, Great Lakes from the prestigious James Beard Foundation in 2016 and 2017.
Chef Salazar is currently in the process of opening up a new eatery this summer (2019) called Goose and Elder.
Los Angeles, based Michael Voltaggio is the chef of the former ink.well concept, as well as Sack Sandwiches at LAX’s Tom Bradley International. Beginning his career at the age of 15, Michael earned the prestigious Greenbrier apprenticeship at age 19 and went on to helm the kitchens at Dry Creek Kitchen and The Bazaar by José Andrés. Celebrated for having reinterpreted a new class of finer dining at ink. – which received the title of GQ’s “Best New Restaurant in America” 2011 – Michael has been recognized as one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs 2013, winner of Bravo’s Top Chef, and hosted the Travel Channel series.
Pearl Aday is a Honey-throated and soulful, and possessing a compelling growl full of grit and strut when she lets loose. Pearl follows up her critically acclaimed 2010 debut with her new release “Heartbreak and Canyon Revelry,” ushering in a new dawn of California Country Rock. Joining forces with the venerable Jim Wilson, (longtime bassist for Daniel Lanois, Emmylou Harris, and leader of Motor Sister and Mother Superior), Pearl once again proves how she is every inch a rock chanteuse who seamlessly moves from vulnerable to guttural in one measure.
“Heartbreak and Canyon Revelry,” produced by Jay Ruston, is the natural evolution from 2010’s “Little Immaculate White Fox,” which was cited as not only “a noble debut” but tapped as leaving “a huge impact on the music scene” with “new female rock icon” Pearl likened to Ann Wilson, KT Tunstall, and Shania Twain.
The album takes its title from two central events in Pearl’s life: her move to Topanga Canyon with her husband Scott and the birth of their son, Revel, Young, now 5 years old.
Of this sophomore release, Pearl adds, “There’s something incredibly cathartic for me in this record. Writing and performing my music has always been my therapy, my safe place. In fact, I never sleep better than I do after a show after I’ve been given the privilege of singing my guts out. I’ve come to realize that we are all in ‘this’ together – this world, this place in time – and if these songs give someone the feeling that they are heard, understood, not alone, I’m elated.”
*Due to the live nature of our Hometown Rising music festival coverage, & external circumstances beyond our control, the audio production in the following MoxieTalk is unable to be brought to our normal MoxieTalk listening and viewing standards. We apologize for any inconvenience.*
As Rolling Stone so cleverly put it, Hannah Ellis is an artist for fans of “spontaneous declarations of love.” This Kentucky native is creating forward-thinking pop country music with a lyric that pulls from real-life experiences. This approach has garnered Hannah a great deal of attention in the last year as she was named to CMT’s Next Women of Country, as well as one of Rolling Stone’s “Artists to Watch.” Her single, “Home and a Hometown”, premiered on CMT last summer and has since been featured on Sirius XM’s “On the Horizon,” and even charted in the Top 100 on Mediabase Country, despite being an independent release. Growing up in her small hometown of Campbellsville, Kentucky, Hannah sang in every local competition she could, eventually leading her to compete in Season 8 of The Voice. Once returning home to Nashville, she signed a publishing deal with Curb|Word Entertainment. Hannah has since had songs recorded by artists like Russell Dickerson, Danielle Bradbery, and most recently, the current Cassadee Pope single. While writing full time, Hannah has continued traveling and playing shows. She signed with Creative Artists Agency at the end of 2017 and has since toured as the opener for artists such as Dwight Yoakam, Montgomery Gentry, and Devin Dawson. You can see Hannah out on the road this spring on the CMT Next Women of Country Tour with Cassadee Pope and Clare Dunn, and be on the lookout for some new music coming soon.
*Due to the live nature of our Hometown Rising music festival coverage, & external circumstances beyond our control, the audio production in the following MoxieTalk is unable to be brought to our normal MoxieTalk listening and viewing standards. We apologize for any inconvenience.*
“At an after-party one night we watched a video of The Band’s “The Last Waltz” over a bottle of Knob Creek. It sounded like the dirt I grew up from. That moment musically changed my life.” ~ Brent Rupard of Everette
Like the great American bands that came before them – new Broken Bow Records duo Everette doesn’t follow trends. Instead, the guys of Everette write what they live, weaving gritty tales of struggle and heartbreak alongside fun-loving stories of escapism and mischief. Often their songs are written while touring – sometimes during sleepless nights as an odometer tracks the miles or on a day off in a dingy motel room off the beaten path – but always organically and always from the heart.
Hailing from humble beginnings, Brent Rupard and Anthony Olympia unknowingly went to high school a mere eight miles apart in rural Bullitt County, Kentucky. Brent spent much of his youth on his family’s horse farm and even dabbled in barrel racing. Anthony’s grandpa was a hall of fame quarter horse trainer and, although their families were friends, the two musicians wouldn’t meet until the age of 21 when Brent took a guitar lesson from the classically-trained Anthony.
Their friendship and musical chemistry were immediate and the pair soon moved to Bowling Green, KY, where the duo cut its teeth playing originals and covers four nights each week while finishing their degrees at Western Kentucky University. It was the burgeoning Bowling Green music scene that Brent and Anthony credit for shaping them into the songwriters and artists they are today, particularly at a venue called WHA bah.
“Once we started playing music at WHA bah the crowd wasn’t just college kids anymore – it was people of all ages and all walks of life. They taught us how to have a good time and not worry about proving ourselves to anyone. They taught us to be true to ourselves,” says Anthony.
The two friends moved to Nashville after graduation to “chase the dream” together. Brent started a solo career. Anthony began working as a musician for hire to pay the bills while still playing in Brent’s band. Throughout this time the roommates continued to write and record demos together until the day the two collaborators decided to form the duo Everette during a writing session – and an American band was born.
Named for George Clooney’s character in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” the duo of Everette is a bonafide triple threat. Brent and Anthony co-write almost all of their songs as well as play many of the instruments on Everette’s studio recordings. The two young artists are also co-producing their debut project, an experience Brent calls “spiritual” and one that is critical to the authenticity of Everette’s brand of Country music.
“We have a certain type of rhythm and we get into a symbiotic zone together in the studio that makes the song work,” explains Anthony. “We have mutual respect for each other’s talent and each other’s feedback when we disagree. Trying to redo a song in someone else’s studio – it just isn’t the same.”
Everette’s brand of country music is filled with swampy harmonicas and bluesy guitar licks mixed with a knack for melodic hooks not unfamiliar to fans of the 80s and 90s. Citing diverse influences ranging from Tom Petty, The Eagles and Randy Travis to Ray Charles, Michael Jackson and John Mayer, Everette’s honest and relatable music exudes a crossover appeal that would have fans singing along at Bonnaroo as well as at CMA Music Fest.
Everette’s “Slow Roll” is a rollicking, carefree number inviting the listener to escape from the trappings of city life into an afternoon of leisurely possibility. With a dance-friendly beat and an infectious chorus, “Slow Roll” showcases the duo’s clever songwriting abilities, including a nod to pop culture classic “Dazed and Confused.”
Hips will immediately begin swaying to Everette’s intoxicating “Mugshots.” At once dangerous and fun-loving, the duo utilized a steel resonator to add a “Tarantino soundtrack vibe” to the song. That unique element, paired with the song’s arena rock chorus, is sure to make “Mugshots” the universal anthem of wild summer nights.
The duo switches gears with the dark and gritty “Relapse” which showcases an intensity and depth to the young artists’ songwriting abilities. Everette credits the “magic” of the heart-wrenching lament to writing it while on the road without time limitations or constraints.
Everette often describes its brand as “bonfire music” because of its communal nature, which relates directly to the Country music genre. “It’s the same thing we love about Country music and Country radio,” says Brent.
“Just like everyone’s involved at a bonfire jam,” says Anthony. “When we’re on stage we don’t want any separation between us and the audience. We want our shows to be an experience. We write songs about us, but they’re really about everyone.”
As an emerging female country artist in Nashville, history suggests that the quickest path to success is somehow aligning oneself with one of the major publishers, producers, songwriters, labels, or managers that are the heart of Music Row. So what do you do if you are an emerging female country artist in Nashville, and also happen to be the granddaughter of musical icon, Willie Nelson?
You hook up with an independent producer and veteran of the rock/punk scene, write some songs that are part Loretta Lynn, part Cheap Trick, and form the Raelyn Nelson Band.
Raelyn Nelson has been singing since she can remember. Having been raised on a steady diet of traditional country and gospel music, a gift from her grandpa in the form of a guitar during her teenage years was the inspiration she needed to begin writing her own country and folk songs.
Looking for a place to record these songs, a mutual friend suggested
JB (Jonathan Bright), a veteran of the underground rock scene and independent producer. After recording some of these early songs, they decided to try to write some things together and see what happened.
The result? A completely fresh and original sound, a true hybrid referred to by some critics as “Country/Garage Rock.”
When they aren’t recording their songs or making music videos, they are on the road taking their high energy live show to the people. Having shared the stage with such diverse musical acts as country superstar Tim McGraw, indie rock icons Drivin’ n Cryin’, and jam band supergroup Hard Working Americans, the RNB is proving that you don’t have to fit neatly into any particular “genre” to find success.
“I don’t really have any desire to be a ‘solo-artist’. Everyone in my family who plays music has always placed a lot of importance on band chemistry, on stage, off stage, and in the studio. Our band can almost read each other’s minds. Why would I mess with that? We try to keep it simple: Write songs we like, record them, make a video, then go out and play them for people.”- Raelyn Nelson
Known mononymously as IMAJ, the artist fans everywhere call their “Country Darling” is a multi-talented Country singer-songwriter, visual artist, novelist, actress and humanitarian. Born in Miami Beach, FL to a model mother and actor father, 80’s TV icon Philip Michael Thomas (Tubbs of Miami Vice), IMAJ grew up in a “utopian environment where creativity was encouraged.” IMAJ has been a special guest performer/toured with multi-platinum and major Country artists such as Collin Raye, Kip Moore, Gretchen Wilson, Billy Dean, Neal McCoy, Hunter Hayes, and LeAnn Rimes. IMAJ has also been a special guest performer for renowned brands such as PepsiCo, Frito-Lay, an honored singer/songwriter at Nashville’s famous Bluebird Cafe and a headliner for the State Fair of Texas, the “I Am Ali” Festival and Awards ceremony for the Muhammad Ali Center, Nancy Lieberman’s Dream Ball Gala with Ice Cube and Julius Irving, the Festival of Faiths, WE Day, for Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s Toys for Kids charity event, Forbes Magazine’s listed PNC Conference and Dallas’ MLK Parade, just to name a few.
IMAJ is an Amazon Top 10 Bestselling Country artist and has been featured in People Magazine, Huffington Post, NowThis Entertainment, Distractify and more. CMA (Country Music Association) CloseUp Magazine labeled IMAJ “The One To Watch.” She was also labeled “The New Face of Country Music” by QueenLatifah.com. Her debut single “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” from her self-titled debut album charted on Music Row and reached New and Active on the Billboard Country Charts. IMAJ says the song is “…all about being yourself in a world where everyone else is trying to be everyone else. It’s all about Peace, Love and Country music.”
“Colorblind”, IMAJ’s latest world peace country music video, reached over 3.3 million views worldwide on Facebook and is from her sophomore album “America’s Sweetheart”. She performed her hit at the Cam Busch Endowed Arts for Health Lecture Series for the Hunter Museum of Art in Chattanooga, TN where she was the keynote speaker. IMAJ will be receiving the 2019 Trailblazer Award at the Equanimity Awards in Dallas, TX. She was an Avanti Award winner and a nominated for the prestigious RoundGlass Music Awards for her single “His Story, Her Story.” This song that she wrote sheds light on the sacrifices of our military men and women. Just like her other releases, this single, too, is generating listeners, views, and buzz worldwide. Through it all, IMAJ’s main goal is to help foster world peace with her music.
With a pair of critically acclaimed Woods Music/Thirty Tigers releases under their belts in Straw in the Wind(2017) and Old News(2019), Nashville-based The Steel Woods have lived up to their name as a hybrid musical force both in the studio, but especially live.
The band’s two original members are native sons of the south who both hale from small-town backgrounds. The Alabama-born Wes Bayliss played harmonica from the age of eight in his family’s gospel band, eventually teaching himself piano, bass, and drums. Jason “Rowdy” Cope turned his love of Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix into a career as a session guitarist/songwriter and producer, moving to Los Angeles, then playing in Jamey Johnson’s band for nine years. The two met in Nashville playing for the same cover band in some out-of-town dive, and immediately discovered an affinity for each other. Part hard-edged Southern rock, part Americana roots country folk, man-made, yet organic, rock but also bluegrass, R&B, blues, gospel, soul and heavy metal, The Steel Woods’ completed their first recordings barely months after they first met before being joined by current bassist Johnny Stanton.
While their albums have received kudos, it is live where The Steel Woods truly shine, expanding on the blueprints on record, involving the crowd in a joyous, communal experience. “We want to get good songs out to a bunch of people who need them,” says Wes. “We just want to make a living making music because it’s the greatest job in the world. I don’t mind working, but I prefer loving what I do.”Over the course of just over three years as a band, The Steel Woods have toured with fellow Southern rockers like Cody Johnson, Cody Jinks, Whiskey Myers, and Blackberry Smoke as well as inspirations such as Lynyrd Skynyrd and Miranda Lambert, performing in Europe for the first time last year. In between another hectic year of concert dates, The Steel Woods are also preparing to release their third studio album for Woods Music/Thirty Tigers. “We’re going to tour these two records and do everything in our power to do them justice and get our music out to our fans,” says Wes. Rolling Stone said The Steel Woods repurposed their cover of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Southern Accent” into a “roaring… Southern rock power ballad,” while Saving Country Music raved, “Though there is not a shortage of Southern rock bands, few have the edge and darkness The Steel Woods bring to the table.”
All upcoming dates can be found on their website at thesteelwoods.com.
“It’s a song about taking the risk to do what you love,” Alice Wallace says of the soaring track, “The Blue,” which yields a lyric entitling her spellbinding new album. With Into the Blue, the California-country singer-songwriter conjures the atmospheric sound of the Golden State’s canyons and deserts, mountains and crashing waves, its crowning beauty and its tragic losses. At the same time, the supple-voiced Wallace tells her own and others’ stories, weaving tales that resonate as we grapple with so many disturbing national issues.
Into the Blue is Wallace’s fourth album but marks her debut on the brand-new Rebelle Road label, an imprint founded by a trio of women dedicated to strengthening the California Country music community and expanding visibility for female artists in the Americana/roots genre. “They care so deeply about giving women a stronger voice in the music industry,” Wallace attests. Having spent the past six years writing songs and touring the nation – from AMERICANAFEST® to county fairs, barrooms to coffeehouses – Alice Wallace is ready to break out. “It takes bravery to ‘sail away into the blue’ and grab it,” she says. “It took me until about six years ago to finally take the plunge, quit my job and go for it. I haven’t looked back since.”
It was after Wallace’s return to her birth state of California that she fully embraced her calling as a singer-songwriter. Her musical family had relocated to rural St. Cloud, Florida when she was a child. She grew up around the sounds of her parents playing guitars and singing, with “Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, their favorite,” she recalls. She also absorbed the country-rock of ‘70s-era Linda Ronstadt on the turntable. “I really taught myself to sing by mimicking their styles,” she says. “The powerful belt that Linda has. The emotive lilt to Emmylou’s voice. Trying to navigate those different elements helped me find my own voice nestled in between all that.” She first picked up a guitar at age 10, with her dad teaching her to finger-pick at 15, and by senior year in high school, Wallace was performing original compositions at the local Borders bookstore. It was in college that she discovered yet another calling: yodeling, that haunting vocal style that blends blues, country, and western. Wallace’s own “A Little Yodel” added her to the ranks of legends Patsy Montana and Carolina Cotton.
In 2008, when the Wallace family relocated back to Southern California, she joined them. There, she began focusing on writing, performing, and touring, both solo and with a band. Since 2013, she performs some 200 dates a year. One of those with whom she’s shared stages is singer-songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard, who says she and her “stunning” songcraft have that “Steve McQueen ‘Cincinnati Kid’ cool.” Pundits agree: she won the 2017 Female Vocalist of the Year at the California Country Awards and the previous year’s Best Country/Americana Artist at the L.A. Music Critic Awards. She was recently singled out by the Los Angeles Daily News and Pollstar for her “dead-on lovely version” of Ronstadt’s “throbbing” “Long Long Time” at the “Palomino Rides Again” event celebrating the legendary California honky-tonk.
Into the Blue represents Wallace’s evolution as a recording artist, showcasing her growth as a songwriter as she embraces a fuller sound, backed by some of Americana’s most distinctive players. Co-produced by Steve Berns and Rebelle Road’s studio veteran, songwriter and musician KP Hawthorn (who’ve made a name for themselves working with artists in the West coast Americana scene), the album is brimming with soul. The formidable rhythm section, including drummer Jay Bellerose (Bonnie Raitt, Elton John, Aimee Mann) and bassist Jennifer Condos (Jackson Browne, Graham Nash), underpins instrumentation ranging from Tom Bremer’s crunchy electric guitar to Kaitlin Wolfberg’s lush string arrangements to keys and pedal steel from Jeremy Long (Sam Outlaw).
Wallace uses an intoxicating array of vocal styles to bring her songs to life: a dusky alto on “The Lonely Talking” (co-written with KP Hawthorn); gospel-tinged belting on “When She Cries” (inspired by the end of a six-year drought in California), and a soaring soprano on “Santa Ana Winds.” The latter, a country-rock chronicle of California’s devastating wildfires, is a co-write with Dallas artist Andrew Delaney, a frequent collaborator whom she calls “the most brilliant lyricist I’ve ever met.” Wallace inhabits his stirring “Elephants,” giving voice to women who refuse to be “quiet as a mouse in a room full of elephants.” The Wallace-Delaney-penned “Echo Canyon” is, she says, “a southwestern cowboy ballad that’s a modern take on a yodel song.” Wallace’s heart-wrenching “Desert Rose” tells of a young mother’s struggle to give her baby a better life across the border.
Lyrically, the heart of the album is the luminous anthem, “The Blue,” says Wallace. It describes her own journey to “get over my fears and go for the thing I love the most.” She knew that being a traveling troubadour and committing herself fully to music could be a dangerous choice. “In some ways, I wish I had done it sooner,” she says. “But I’m also glad I have the life experience to help fuel my songwriting and survive life on the road.” The highly charged emotional feel of “The Blue” derives in part from its exquisite layered harmonies – Wallace’s vocals joined by those of her father, mother, and brother. Known as “blood harmony,” when kinfolk sing together, it conveys a rapturous kind of purity and strength. That buoyancy radiates throughout Alice Wallace’s Into the Blue, lifting her listeners up, transporting them into the world of a seasoned troubadour looking back from a dream realized and dues paid without regret.
A tractor cab might not seem like the ideal place for an aspiring artist to nurture her musical dreams, but it sure did the trick for Clare Dunn. Growing up in tiny Two Buttes, Colorado (population: 43), she spent days at a time helping plow and plant the family farm, sharpening her ears with uninterrupted music-listening in the driver’s seat, even as she strengthened her work ethic. “That’s where a lot of my creativity came from and where a lot of my vision was forged, was just having nothing else to do other than listen to music and dream all day long in the vast wide open of those plains,” she reflects.
By the time the genial, grounded Great Plains native got the chance to record for MCA Nashville, she had fine-tuned her creative vision and was ready to do what it would take to make it a reality, which landed her in a truly unique position: she is the only female country artist in recent memory to have a hand in all of the writing, arranging and producing for her debut release, the Clare Dunn EP.
“I remember feeling like, ‘I know that I’m asking my label to take this tremendous leap of faith on me. I will be in the studio day and night. I will go until it’s right,’” says the guitar-slinging singer and songwriter. “I feel so grateful that I’ve had a team around me that’s allowed me to do that and supported me every step of the way.”
True to her word, Dunn spent virtually every waking moment holed up in The Cave at Nashville’s House of Blues studios, crafting her standout sound beneath the watchful eye of a Chuck Berry portrait with such A-list collaborators as Terry McBride, Jesse Frasure, and Ben West. And it definitely paid off. The hooks have irresistible pop-rock punch, the sentiments are shot through with heartland rock grit, the vocals show R&B-schooled rhythmic daring and the arrangements are both towering and dynamic.
Every lick of guitar on there, from agile melodic figures to aggressive shredding, is hers. “I think there’s, like, one song where I didn’t play a mandolin part or something like that,” she says. “But other than that, every lead part is my playing—acoustic, electric, everything.”
That goes for all of the vocal parts, too—except for a solitary Eric Paslay guest harmony. Dunn doesn’t sound quite like any other singer in any genre, but her sumptuous lower range and the attitude and lustiness she summons whenever it suits the song recalls such world-class pop performers as Pink or Annie Lennox. In her teens, Dunn geeked out over a VH1 “Behind the Music” documentary that showed Fleetwood Mac working out their meticulous vocal arrangements, and in the studio, she might devote as many as a dozen tracks to doubling the melody in a different octave or layering precision harmonies, which adds to the sheer size of her sound.
Dunn began paying her dues back in southeast Colorado, where she grew up the second of two daughters born into a long line of farmers and ranchers. “We didn’t have any brothers,” she says. “We did basically everything that boys would normally do, driving 18-wheelers, combines, tractors. I was very grateful that my parents raised us with the mentality that we didn’t even think about it; it was just normal for us to do all that stuff. We were a small family operation, and it’s all hands on deck, all the time.”
In her early years, Dunn soaked up her parents’ favorite classic rock and country records—lots of Bob Seger titles among them—and stocked up on Top 40 singles when the family made the trek to a store in a neighboring town that actually had a record bin. She also absorbed all manner of rhythmic pop and R&B during marathon dance classes, so devoted to her hip-hop dance team that she won a scholarship to study with Janet Jackson’s backup dancers in California.
Says Dunn, “My mom wore out an engine in a Suburban hauling me back and forth to dance. I couldn’t go every day like the other kids, because I lived an hour away. So I would do makeup days, and spend all day from 10 in the morning to 10 o’clock at night just learning dances so that I could be in the recitals and competitions. Dance, for me, is such a form of expression. When I’m making music, I’m thinking about it from a dance perspective—beats and musicality and phrasing.”
For all of her sonic smarts, the aspiring musician lived in a town with zero places to play live shows, and she had no clue how to pursue her dream after high school until she heard about the music business program at Nashville’s Belmont University. The private school was out of her family’s price range, but she didn’t let that stop her, raising a big chunk of her tuition by driving a silage truck. “Anytime that there wasn’t school going on,” she recalls, “I was on that truck. Spring break, summer break, fall break. If you could’ve grown silage in December, I would’ve been on it over Christmas break. Whenever I couldn’t be home to drive the truck, my family kept the wheels rolling. My mom, dad and sister all drove it for me when I couldn’t be there due to classes or internships.”
It wasn’t until Dunn got to college that she learned how to play guitar. Unlike a lot of dorm room dabblers, she wasn’t content to just reach the point where she could accompany herself by strumming basic chords. “Whenever I’d try to talk to a guitar player and explain how I heard things, I could never explain it,” she says. “So I thought, ‘If I can’t explain it to them, I’d better see if I can learn how to do it myself, so I can get it the way that I hear it in my head.’ Lead guitar, for me, was where it was at. I had no interest in learning G, C, and D and stopping. I wanted to be able to sing on guitar.”
After college, Dunn signed a deal that went sour and turned her attention to building a grassroots following through decidedly unglamorous touring. “I loaded up me and three guys in a four-door F-150 pickup and a trailer and we took off,” she laughs. “We put 100,000 miles on it in just a little over a year. We played bars—teeny, tiny bars—and honky-tonks and festivals. It was very bleak to start out with, pinching pennies, trying to magically make a dollar turn into three dollars, trying to keep morale up. Like, ‘I know we played for two people tonight, guys, but it’s fine. We’re gonna get beyond it!’ My family helped me then too. They believed in me so much that they were willing to sacrifice in order to help me build that following to get a record deal.”
The audience quickly multiplied when SiriusXM’s The Highway channel put Dunn’s flirtatious number “Cowboy Side of You” in rotation, and the fans who came out to the shows found a vital, confident band leader stomping around, swapping fearsome solos and singing likes she meant it. Universal Music Group Nashville soon snatched her up, and she attracted in-demand co-writers like Paslay, West, Frasure, McBride, Tom Douglas, Liz Rose, Hillary Lindsey, Troy Verges, Chris Lindsey, Brett James, and Ryan Beaver, and hit the road with many of her musical heroes including Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan, and Seger, who hand-picked Dunn as direct support on his Ride Out Tour.
Now, that her with-it, down-home vision is captured on record and her sensuous single “Tuxedo” is impacting the country radio, Dunn is in the position to bring her music back to the people and places that taught her what determination was in the first place.
“I can confidently say I would not be in this chair had it not been for that work ethic my parents and community instilled in me,” says the forward-thinking, farm-bred artist. “It’s been a tough road getting here and it’s taken longer than I would’ve liked, but I’ve always felt confident in setting and pursuing my goals. That work ethic is what drove me to learn how to play, and to go back out and play another show for ten people. Where I’m from, that’s just what you do—you work.”
*Due to the live nature of our Hometown Rising music festival coverage, & external circumstances beyond our control, the audio production in the following MoxieTalk is unable to be brought to our normal MoxieTalk listening and viewing standards. We apologize for any inconvenience.*
Noah rose to fame covering chart-topping hits on YouTube. He received national attention with his blues-filled version of LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It,” which to date has received over 26-million views, with his YouTube channel, only1noah, racking up over 78 million total views. Noah released his first independent, original album, Among The Wildest Things, in 2013. His new album, The Valley, has established him as an artist on the rise in the world of Americana/Country music. His songwriting and soulful vocal delivery are truly unique.
His growing presence on YouTube eventually led to his being cast as Roderick Meeks, a pivotal character on FOX’s hit TV show Glee, on it’s the sixth and final season. Noah was featured in several songs on the popular, music-oriented TV show.
After the show ended, Noah dove headfirst back into songwriting and touring. His second original album, The Valley, solidifies Noah as one of the freshest new voices in Americana music. He is often compared to artists, such as Ray Lamontagne and Jason Isbell. The Valley is getting major play on streaming services, such as Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music. Noah currently has over 600,000 monthly listeners on Spotify alone.
Noah was a semi-finalist on America’s Got Talent Season 13.
The South Carolina native grew up in a home filled with music. Always singing around the house, Guthrie credits his father for teaching him to learn his true voice and hone his gift.
His richly textured voice is capable of conveying the true emotion of a lyric. Guthrie has opened concerts for Ed Sheeran, Sister Hazel, Neon Trees, Ben Rector, Corey Smith, Matisyahu, Matt Nathanson, and Selena Gomez, and has performed on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars as well as NBC’s Today Show and The Tonight Show.
Noah and his band were recently featured performers on Rock Boat XVIII, the biggest music festival at sea, along with Sister Hazel, Barenaked Ladies, needtobreathe, Drew Holcomb and others.
He will be appearing on the upcoming season of America’s Got Talent after being invited directly onto the show without an audition.
Trained at The Australian Ballet School & having enjoyed a thrilling & fulfilling career with The Australian Ballet as a Principal Artist, Robert took his passion & discipline he developed as a dancer & set his sights on diversifying his knowledge, skills & abilities.
With education and experience, he continually expanded his ability to move his own body on stage & through this, moving an audience through a wide range of emotions. Beyond his dancing career, he strives to continue to move people towards a satisfying encounter with dance.
Robert is motivated by the form that a dancer gains from training in the traditions of classical ballet, where respect & discipline can facilitate breathtaking strength & freedom.
He is also inspired by the innovation that forms the function of any artist, that being to bravely & boldly express oneself through art for the greater good of a community.
As Artistic Director, Robert continues to contribute to the Global Arts Community, enriching his knowledge of the art form to which he has devoted his life.
He is excited by & committed to the Louisville community with its abundant respect for the arts and its exciting perspective on the future.
GE Appliances, a Haier company, is headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, where Marcia Brey leads the Lean strategy for the business focusing on delivering winning products and services for customers & consumers while minimizing waste throughout ALL functions.
Known as the Lean Enterprise, Marcia is responsible for implementing transformational, cross-functional processes, growing the capability of employees and improving management systems at GE Appliances. Marcia earned her Master’s degrees from both the University of Louisville in Mechanical Engineering & the University of Arizona in Quality & Reliability Engineering.
Marcia began her 26-year career at Appliances on GE’s Edison Engineering Program & has worked across multiple product lines in Design Engineering, Customer Service, Sales, Marketing, Distribution, Quality & Manufacturing.
She most recently was the plant manager for the Bottom-Freezer Refrigeration factory where she managed a $100M budget and led a team of 1,000 employees making significant improvements in safety, quality, delivery, cost & employee satisfaction. She assumed her current role in Jan. 2017.
Marcia has volunteered with the American Red Cross for the past 10-years as the GE Appliance representative on the Board of Directors. She has led several Red Cross service projects as well as several committees AND assumed the role of Chair of the Board for the Kentucky Region of the American Red Cross in July of 2019. Marcia also volunteers at her church, St. Gabriel, leading several committees.
She has been recognized by Today’s Woman, Business First’s “Top 40 under 40” and as a Manufacturing Institute “STEP Ahead leader.”
Marcia & her husband, Greg, are raising their 3 children in Louisville.
Alex attends Saint Xavier High School in Louisville, Kentucky and has served as Lieutenant Governor of the Kentucky Youth Assembly and more recently elected to serve as the KYA President of the Senate.
Additionally, he was selected to represent Kentucky at the Conference On National Affairs.
Since the age of 11, Alex has been leading a bipartisan effort in the Kentucky legislature to end the use of corporal punishment in schools.
Alex has also written opinion pieces for The Courier-Journal.
He enjoys running cross country & participating in Saint Xavier High School’s service club & student council.
The Saint Xavier faculty awarded Alex the Ryken Underclassman Award for outstanding industry, school spirit, cooperation, and loyalty.
Josh runs IDEAS xLab – an artist-led nonprofit based in Louisville, KY. He is an artist with a background in entrepreneurship, art & business administration, & editorial production – & explores the world through photography (& a lot of running), documenting his journey through joshmiller.ventures.
In addition to his outdoor explorations, Josh celebrates the brilliance and strength of marginalized people including LGBTQ+ & Black communities through photography & collaborative storytelling.
Josh was selected for Louisville Business First’s Forty under 40 and is a distance runner, a TEDx speaker, an advisor for the Derby Diversity & Business Summit, & founding Board Member of Civitas: Regional LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce headquartered in Louisville, KY.
From 2016 – July 2019, he served as the Co-Chair of the Louisville Health Advisory Board’s Communications Committee.
In 2019, IDEAS xLab was named Nonprofit of the Year by the Derby Diversity & Business Summit.
Lee Pennington is a graduate of Berea College and the University of Iowa. He holds two Honorary Doctor degrees – A Doctor of Literature from World University & Doctor of Philosophy in Arts from The Academy of Southern Arts & Letters. He taught for nearly 40 years, the last 32 as Professor of English and creative writing at the University of Kentucky’s Jefferson Community College until he retired in 1999. Lee is the author of 22 books including I Knew a Woman (1977) Thigmotropism (1993) & Appalachian Newground (2016)–each nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in poetry. His latest book is Daughters of Leda (2017)—selected as a finalist for “Best Book of Poetry published in 2017” by the American Book Fest. His Songs of Bloody Harlan was reprinted and re-released in 2019. He has had over 1300 poems published in more than 300 magazines in America & abroad. He has had 9 plays produced, wrote the script for The Moonshine War (MGM, 1970, starring Alan Alda, Richard Widmark, etc.), & has published thousands of articles & short stories in everything from Playgirl to Mountain Life & Work. Since 1990, through his video production company, JoLe Productions (joleproductions.com), Lee, along with his late wife, Joy, have produced 21 documentaries including In Search of the Mudmen (1990), Wales: History in Bondage (1995), & Secret of the Stones (1998), Eyes that Look at the Sky: The Mystery of Easter Island (2001), The Mound Builders (2001), The Serpent Fort: Solving the Mystery of FT. Mountain, Georgia (2005), Let Me Not Drown on the Waters: Fred Rydholm, Michigan’s “Mr. Copper.” Since 2011, Lee has produced 5 more documentaries: Some Days You Clean, Some Days You Litter: The Amazing Warner Sizemore, 2012; Room To Fly: Anne Caudill’s Album, 2013; Bosnian Pyramids Hidden History, 2015; Seafaring Strangers: Vikings in America, Part I, 2016; & Gunung Padang: Monument to Atlantis, 2017.
Lee has traveled extensively (in all the USA, in all the Canadian Provinces except 2, & in 90 foreign countries). For the past dozen years, he has served as president of the Ancient Kentucke Historical Association, a group dedicated to the study and research of pre-Columbian contact in the Americas. In 2013 the University of Louisville. opened the Lee & Joy Pennington Cultural Heritage Gallery, named after Lee & his late wife. The gallery contains UofL’s most valuable works including the likes of the first editions of Galileo, Copernicus, & Sir Isaac Newton. It will house all of Lee’s writings, films, & many artifacts he’s collected traveling around the world. He presently lives in Kratz House, a designated historic home, in Middletown, KY with his lady, Jill Baker, an artist who has illustrated several of his books.
Shelly is a community leader & an internationally recognized authority on American quilts. Check out www.shellyzegart.com for more information. She collects, curates exhibitions, writes, lectures, and appraises fine quilts. Shelly has curated many exhibits in the U.S. & abroad, and lectures on all aspects of quilt history and aesthetics. She is the President of the not-for-profit Kentucky Quilt Project, Inc., the 1st of the state quilt documentation projects. Shelly is a co-founder of the Quilt Alliance & Executive Producer and Host of “Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics” a nine-part documentary featured on more than 250 member PBS stations and whyquiltsmatter.org & now streaming on Kentucky Educational Television. Her private collection of quilts was acquired by the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2013 Shelly was the catalyst for the placement of the International Honor Quilt (see Judy Chicago Through the Flower site) at the University of Louisville Hite Art Institute, & chairs the governance committee overseeing the integration & use of the Honor Quilt at the University. She has built private & corporate quilt collections around the world. In 1985, Shelly was selected for Leadership Louisville & in 2004, she was named a Woman of Distinction by the Louisville Center for Women & Families & an Associate Fellow of the International Quilt Study Center. Shelly is active in a number of community efforts and boards. Her most recent project is Kentucky to the World or “KTW” a nonprofit she founded in 2013 & based in Louisville. KTW is dedicated to enhancing the intellectual reputation of Kentucky, it’s people & its assets through a unique combination of live events and video outreach. KTW features and promotes extraordinary individuals who are passionate about their Kentucky ties through a speaker series for general and student audiences, videos distributed online, through community partners & KET (KY. Educational Television) for further info visit kentuckytotheworld.org.
Shelly holds a Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of Michigan & resides in Louisville with her husband, Dr. Kenneth Zegart & has 2 daughters, Terri Seltz & Amy Zegart.