Interview with Katha Harris

Photograph By: Charlie VanDresser.
Paint The Town Redheaded”! That, my friends, is the feature track and the title of Katha Harris' new EP. This EP is the fiery redhead’s sophomore album. The songs are personal and soulful with a dash of spice. This Texan native country girl, who has moved to the city of Nashville, is passionate about music and adventure. Katha is Americana country at its best and she's unafraid of being expressive through her music. I would describe Katha’s music as strong. This seems to be obvious when you look at just who Katha is. She has spent much of this year touring as an independent female artist, much of the time just her and a guitar. Katha holds her own in this crazy business of music and she is absolutely writing her own story. Hers just happens to be in the form of fiery lyrics and red hot melodies.

Katha was kind enough to grant me an interview, so check out what she has to say about her life, what inspires her, and who she is listening to.

Q: When in your life did you know you wanted to be a songwriter/artist?
A: I always remember wanting to sing. I used to sing along to Reba and pretend to be her as a child, though I was oblivious to the concept of songwriting at the time.

Q:  Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A: Life, personal experience, anywhere I can find it!

Q:  Are you originally from Nashville?
A: Texas

Q;  What is your favorite song that you have composed so far?
A: Hmmmm, that's hard. I like different songs for different reasons. Probably which ever is the newest at the time lol.

Q:  What is on your personal playlist right now?
A: Making playlists is hard for me, I can never decide what to put in them! What I listen to is so much dependent on my mood. Maybe that's it, maybe I should make "mood" playlists haha.

Q:  What Indie musician are you a big fan of?
A: Oh man, I can't pick one! I've been listening to a lot of David Ramirez lately. I LOVE Sean McConnell, Lori McKenna, Patty Griffin, Ray Wylie Hubbard, though some of those may not be considered indie, they aren't usually considered mainstream.

Q:  What does the word music mean to you?
A: Music is life to me. I can't imagine growing up and not having music as an emotional support system.

Q:  How important do you think music is in the public school system?
A: I think music is extremely important in school. Whether a child wants to pursue music in the future or not is not really the point, but that it exercises a different part of the brain. In order to have well rounded kids that grown into well rounded adults, I think it's essential to stimulate their brain from every angle.

Q:  What is the name of your new album? Tell us a little about it?
A: The album is called 'Paint The Town Redheaded' which is also the title track. The longer I do this and the more I put myself out there, I think I'm getting closer and closer to who I am as a person and an artist. 'Paint The Town Redheaded' is definitely on the right track.

Q:  What is your favorite part of recording and working on a new album?
A: Working with expert musicians. I enjoy seeing their reactions the first time they hear a song and seeing how they react to it and musically interpret it. I typically play acoustic, so when you add all these other elements to it, it really makes the song come alive, and it's so cool to witness!

Q:  What is the most memorable thing a fan has said to you?
A: It's really hard to remember exactly what someone has said. In Nashville, you're bombarded with music in every direction, so I don't think people are always paying attention so to speak. That being said, compliments are really hard to come by in Nashville, so if someone has one, I relish in it.

Q: Is the music industry worth all the hard work you put into it?
A: If you could separate those two words, I'd said music-yes, industry-totally, completely irritatingly frustrating.

Q:  What advice would you give a young person chasing after their own dreams?
A: Do it. Do it while you're young and reckless and still can. And even when you're older and your priorities change, never give up.

Q:  How did you go about choosing songs for the new album?
A: Oh man, it's so hard! As I mentioned earlier, I like each song for a different reason; the trick is a) determining how many you can actually afford to record and b) picking out a set that really encapsulates you as an artist. It's tricky, tricky, tricky (and yes the melody to that song is playing in my head as I say that).

Q:  If you could write with anyone out there who would that be and Why?
A: I don't even know how to answer that. There are many people I'd piss myself over if I could write with them. Any singer/songwriter that I listen to a lot, is one that I'd love to write with. See aforementioned list lol.

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NewSong Summer Concert Series

 Announcing upcoming NewSong Concert Series on Sunday July 15th. The music starts at 6pm and ends  somewhere around 8pm. However doors open at 5:30pm. Bring your blankets, lawn chairs, picnic baskets and friends and enjoy this FREE indoor summer concert featuring Stephen Garrett, Robert Counts, and Sereno Strings. We hope you join us for this family friendly music filled night at:

New Song Christian Fellowship
316 South Gate Court
Brentwood, TN 37067

Concessions including desserts and drinks will be sold by the NewSong youth to harvest funds for summer camp scholarships. Again we sure hope to see you all come out to enjoy this NewSong Summer INDOORS concert! 

Center Stage

Back in December 2011 (I know I blog slow), my sons received an awesome surprise gift from their Granny Lou, G Pa and Uncle Russ. A couple of days before the Garrett Family Christmas celebration, the secret construction of the little bonus room music stage began. Granny Lou, being the grand supporter of the family’s love of music, sacrificed a section of her upstairs room for the stage. The stage complete with lights and a sound board was kept secret until the night of the Family's Christmas celebration.

Can you imagine the excitement and anticipation of finding out what the big secret is upstairs?!?! The boys walked up the stairs and lit up like a Christmas tree when they saw their very own music stage set up with mics , guitars and drums ready to roll for the first of many Garrett Boy bonus room concerts. There was a lot of jumping up and down, clapping, and smiles all around. The little fellows truly thought they were rock stars!

So here is too the new stage, and to the Uncles and Grandparents who have the dazzling ability to go big when encouraging the Garrett Family dream that has been passed down from generation to generation! Let the lyrics and melodies of the newest generations begin!!!
The Garrett Boys

Courage and Friendship

"Courage is not the absence of fear. It’s about being scared and doing it anyway. For you cannot have courage without fear." -unknown
Courage and Friendship on Great Display At The Cole Elementary Talent Show
My eldest son, whom I write about here on Lyrics and Love often, was gearing up to perform at his school talent show on May 18th. He was practicing for weeks to perform his very first Carter Garrett original. I say he was practicing for weeks, but he has had this planned for months. The night comes and he takes the stage as student number 14. I think my own heart is going to pound out of my chest, and I am pretty sure butterflies where living in my stomach. I knew how hard he had worked, and I really was proud of him before he even stepped a foot on stage. I also knew how hard he is on himself. Halfway through the first verse I hear his sweet little voice crack, and he just can’t hold back the nerves. Time seemed to go into slow motion. I saw him close his little eyes in an attempt to compose himself, but the lights, the audience, the perfectionist within was just too much. The tears flooded his face. My heart was crushed for him. I wanted so much to rescue my sweet boy. It’s hard to witness your child experiencing life’s tough moments. His Dad finally walks to the stage and helps him exit, and we have a little family meeting away from the crowd. It was heartbreaking watching him still wringing his little 9 year old hands and crying into our shoulders. Stephen and I did our best to encourage him, but honestly we were failing. I was throwing up silent prayers of comfort and peace over his little heart, but neither of us really knew what to do. Then something tender and sweet began to happen. His principle, peers and teachers start rallying around him speaking words of encouragements over him and patting him on the back whispering, "you can do it Carter, give it another try”. His Cole family was backing him up. They were giving my son something so much more beautiful than the spot light. They were giving him love. They were giving him a second chance. They were giving him just the little push of courage he needed. So, the second time around Carter walked to the stage picked up his guitar stepped up to the microphone followed on stage by four of his classmates(who knew every word to his song), and they dedicated Carter's original song “I Wonder” to his 4th grade teacher. Without a hitch, the song was complete. The crowd cheered and clapped. The happy ending was ours tonight. Friendship and courage had taken center stage at Cole Elementary’s talent show! And the Mommy tears flowed freely and sweetly and my heart was happy! 

Cole Elementary 4th Grade Chorus

The 4th Grade Cole Eagles Chorus Team

I have voiced, on several occasions, how proud I am of the Davidson County Elementary School that our children attend and this past Saturday was no exception. My husband and I tagged along to chaperon the Cole Elementary Chorus team on a field trip to Beech Bend Amusement park’s 3rd Annual Band and Choral Festival in Bowling Green, KY. The Cole Chorus Eagles performed two songs when they took the stage at 2:20pm on May 12th under the direction of instructor Mr. William Laarz. Mr. Laarz has been teaching music at Cole Elementary for eleven years. As the students began to sing you could see and hear just how special this group of talented 4th graders is. The children held their own, while sporting happy, all smiles stage presence and genuinely looked to be enjoying themselves. There were no shrilling mistakes and the children achieved harmonies and melodies above expectations bringing home a superior scoring trophy. However the surprises where not over for the day as the Cole Chorus also brought home the 1st place trophy for their elementary division. Both of their musical pieces out scored the other schools in their division, and even most schools in the other divisons! Congratulations Cole Chorus Eagles! Your performance and behavior for the day was exceptional. Also, congratulations Mr. Laarz! Without your direction and belief in these students, they could not have achieved such great accomplishments for the school and themselves. Well done team! Well done!!!

Hope you enjoy this little clip of the teams warm up number.


Studio Visit

I watch him, my almost ten year old son. I watch him standing in the doorway that leads to the world that captures hold of every fiber of his being. You can tell by the expressions that wash across his face, by the body language that pretends to be a grown up. I wonder in those moments of watching him what he is really thinking about as he stands in that doorway. What thoughts is his little 9 year old mind processing. He begins to tap his foot to the beats of his Dad's music, but his glance never leaves the other musicians as they chart the song or his Uncle Russ who sits tweaking with the sound board in preparation for the next song. He listens intently to his Dad giving instructions and humming the visions he hears in his head for these new songs. He listens as if it's just as important for him to know what is going on.

Carter Standing in the Doorway of The Brown Owl Studio

I am more taken with him than I thought I would be during trip to The Brown Owl Studio. He is consuming the majority of my focus and he is absorbing every second of his first visit. I keep watching him. He is in love with this place, he is in love with this music. Of course this is no surprise, given the child's gene pool. However, I had no idea that it would have taken hold of him this early in his life. The melodies and the lyrics fill the air around us and Carter seems very at home, very happy. I imagine he finds the studio process insightful and maybe somewhat magical to his nine year old brain or maybe he sees glimpses of his future.
Carter sitting and watching his Uncle Russell work

My younger two sons seem to be much like me. It was cool the first five minutes, but after that boredom sets in. I have always found the studio process monotonous and repetitive. Way too tedious a process. No it's not my favorite part of the music making process and I think my younger two, at this stage in their lives, seem to agree with me. That will probably change as the years go by, but for now they are why we make an early exit to our visit so that peace and quit and the stillness that comes with this process can be restored.

This hour in the studio with my son has taught me a little. I knew music was a large part of Carter's life. It's what he spends the majority of his time thinking about. He most always has a guitar in his hand following us around strumming out chords and he has even written his first song, and not a bad one for a nine year old kid. Yet, I still learned today watching my son. As his mother, music allows me to see this child more clearly. It's what he loves, it's what he is good at, it's his blessing and his gift, it's his expression to his world. There is no doubt that this studio world he walked into for the first time today will play a role in his future. Even at his age, he just seems to fit there naturally. As his Mother, I recognized on this day maybe more than any other day just how important this really is to him and how it is shaping him into who he is and the man he will someday become. I will learn to better nurture his talents and his love for music. I will make more time to listen even if I don't understand. I will recognize his excitement over new chords learned, because it really is a beautiful thing what I see music doing to my son.

Songstress Jennifer Kennard

Photograph By Krista Lee Photography
Meet multi-talented Jennifer Kennard, a Toronto native who now calls Nashville home with her husband Brad and infant son Emerson. She is one of the many talented songwriters my husband has had the honor to write with. I first meet the energetic and radiant songwriter while she was working towards the release of her EP Lonely Girl in 2009. I was moved by the amount of passion and depth that was so seamlessly intertwined in songs like "Angeline" and "Higher Ground". Jennifer's songs are a true fusion of smart, powerful lyrics over well formulated tunes and delivered without straining the aim of her music.

In 2009, Jennifer found one of her collaborations "Virgina Bluebell" on country music sweetheart Miranda Lambert's award winning Revolution album. This year Jennifer began a new chapter in her songwriting career after signing with John and Martina McBride's 'Songs of Black Bird' Publishing Company, a division of Blackbird Studios. In just three short years, Songs of Black Bird boasts an already impressive roster that now includes Kennard. Keep your ears open, ladies and gentlemen, because I am expecting more big things and hits to come from the heart of this strong, young songwriter.
This sweet lady was kind enough to grant me an interview to discuss all things music and the balance of career and motherhood in the music industry.

Interview With Songwriter Jennifer Kennard

Question: What is the first song you can remember falling totally in love with?
Answer: Nothing Compares to You by Sinead O’Connor written by Prince.

Question: How long have you been writing songs?
Answer: Since I was 18 years old.

Question: Do you base any of your songs off personal life experiences?
Answer: Many of them are based on personal experience or the experiences of those I know. But most of them venture off into something more listeners can empathize with.

Question: Currently what indie Artist/Songwriter can you not get enough of?
Answer: Lucinda Williams.

Question: Out of all the songs you have written which one do you relate to the most?
Answer: As Long as the Kids were Alright

Question: Who do you look at for support and encouragement?
Answer: My husband, Bradford.

Question: How did you feel when you got your first cut?
Answer: Validated as a songwriter, accomplished as an artist.

Question: When you think of just the word MUSIC what does it mean to you?
Answer: An inhale for my spirit, an exhale for my soul.

Question: The music industry can be very tough. Are all the struggles worth it just to chase after the dream?
Answer: I think music was just the vehicle of accomplishing the ultimate dream of love and finding my husband. And I go into battle everyday with the industry because if I found him in the struggles imagine what else in waiting in for me in the trenches.

Question: What advice would you give a newcomer coming to Nashville to be a songwriter?
Answer: Persistence and perseverance is key, but always follow your heart.

Question: Has becoming a Mother changed anything when in comes to your songwriting/career?
Answer: It’s changed everything! From when I write to what I write about.
My son is my muse. He’s taught me that if someone puts a wall in front of me, I can climb it. I may fall, suffer some bumps and bruises, but I’ll get over it.

Question: Now that you are a mother what are your opinions of music education in the public school systems?
Answer: An absolute necessity! Children need to be exposed to all aspects of music.
From listening to playing, from learning to composing. Music has been such a positive and inspiring influence in my life, I can’t imagine never being introduced to it at a young age.

Question: Last question how do you balance it all motherhood and career?
Answer: Lots of prayer.