When you think of the city of Nashville, you probably think of the city where country music performers are born. Songs in this city are plentiful, and now it has become home to the same name hit ABC show Nashville. The season premiere is September 25, 2013. The show weaves stories of both fictional big stars and young artists launching their careers. Recently, I had conversations with three real life singer/ songwriters trying to make a name for themselves. Three artists who are working in this highly competitive city to make a name for themselves are: Emily Reeves, Maxfield Camp, and James McNair. They are talented Tennessee artists working tirelessly on their own to enter into this performing landscape.
Although they are young, they are extremely professional and down to earth. Parents won't have to worry that their children are downloading sexually explicit or violent lyrics. The parents of the three artists provide a strong foundation of emotional support for them. The artists are quick to name their family as role models.
Emily Reeves, 21, is the daughter of actors Melissa and Scott Reeves. She remembers as a young child that each night, her dad would sing and play the guitar. Both parents strongly encouraged her creativity. Instead of keeping a journal as a child, she wrote songs. "I wrote my first song at (age) eleven. I never stopped".
Now, Reeves is writing and singing her own music, which often reflects her personal life. In her song "Last Cigarette", she writes about her own 18 month relationship suddenly ending: "I quit you like my last cigarette/Breathe you in for one last breath/And one last breath turns into hundredfold/You quit me like you quit your job".
Rest assured, Reeves is not a smoker, but says she was devastated when her boyfriend of 18 months, called it quits. "I was still thinking about it (the breakup) a year later. I thought about things that are difficult to quit and smoking is one of those".
Reeves is extremely hard working and isn't living a pampered Nashville life. When not working one of her two jobs, she takes vocal lessons or is writing her music. "I write daily. I'm always listening to others....their conversations, their words".
Like Reeves, James McNair started to write music as a child. When talking with McNair it is clear that he has put in long hours to perfect his craft, but enjoys the process. While in college, he wrote songs and learned to play the guitar, bass, mandolin, and drums. He is quick to report he has a "catalog of over 150 songs" ranging from Americana, Country, Rock, Pop and Blues.
When songwriter Paul Overstreet hosted Easter Sunday dinner earlier this year, McNair and Camp met for the first time. The two struck up an immediate friendship and quickly discovered their mutual passion for songwriting. Since this initial meeting, they have co-written numerous tunes, including, this song, "Outlaw". It is a mature song. McNair explains, "We wrote that with heavy hearts. We've both lost friends to drunk driving". The song contains this message: "Never thought this would be how I'd go/ Got a death grip on a bottle of whiskey/ Thinking that nobody will ever miss me".
Although this song speaks of loss, both Maxfield Camp and McNair are full of optimism. They are playing throughout Nashville and have already gathered an impressive following. Together they have an impressive Twitter following of 17,000 and those numbers are only expected to increase. They are balancing heavy schedules filled with songwriting meetings and evening performances.
Two years ago, Camp attended an open casting call for the Glee Project. After making it through this initial casting call, which drew 46,000, the produces selected Camp as one of 14 finalists. This earned him a trip to Los Angles where he played one of his original songs for Robert Ulrich. Although Camp didn't make it to the final round, he says he has nothing but respect for Ulrich. Camp recalls this about the experience, "Robert mentioned that he was impressed by my acting".
Taking Ulrich's comments to heart, Camp, headed to an audition for the show Nashville, where he earned a small part in an episode. He played an employee at the Gruhn guitars, and says he "loved" the experience. Camp is hoping to land more acting roles.
Whatever stage these young artists eventually land on you will realize that they each integrate Nashville into their work. Their goals are as big as any young artist can dream, and they all started here with calling Nashville home.
You can follow James McNair at @jamesmcnmusic
You can follow Maxfield Camp @maxfieldcamp
You can follow Emily Reeves @emilyreevesxoxo
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