Stephen Ray~ Artist Spotlight/ Q&A!!!

Artist Spotlight:

Stephen Ray is a Nashville based country singin’ songwriter & artist who was raised in both the arctic cold of Wisconsin and Michigan & the warm beaches of California. Stephen has opened for acts such as Toby Keith, Parmalee, and Chris Janson. His music is available on all streaming platforms.

Q&A:

Hi Stephen, can you tell us all about yourself before you became a country musician? 

Hi there! Yes! I started writing country music around 2010, and began taking it more seriously around 2016 when I decided to record and release music as “Stephen Ray” for the first time. Prior to that, I was working and living in San Diego, CA. I also performed in a rock band with my brother for many years! Music has always a been a big part of my life. 

What made you want a career in country music?

I was always a fan of country music and for as long as I remember (well, about 7th grade when I started playing guitar) I was in bands with my brother and friends growing up, but we played more punk and pop rock. But I remember in high school burning CD’s with Dierks Bentley and Tim McGraw, who are two of my favorite artists, and constantly making mixed CD’s with multiple genres. My CD’s would go from New Found Glory to Shania Twain to Pure Moods to Gym Class Heroes to Enya and back to New Found Glory. HA.  But by the time I was in college, and right after college I was listening and going to a lot more country concerts in San Diego, Brad Paisley, Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, etc. After taking some time off from my rock band days, I eventually started to write and record more pop country style music and songs. 

What is the background story behind your latest single “Bud Light Sign?” 

I wrote Bud Light Sign with my three good friends, Ryan Sorestad, Brit Knott and Taylor Nash. (Yes, we live in Nashville and his real last name is Nash.) The day we wrote, they had been at a Logan’s Roadhouse restaurant having lunch and waiting for Guitar Center next door to open. Ryan was sitting there and saw two Bud Light signs above the bar when the idea hit him to write something about being “brighter than a Bud Light sign”. We met later that day to write and this song started to come to life when we thought of eyes being bluer than the Bud Light sign! The rest was history! 

Who are some of your musical icons?

Enya, Tom Petty, Relient K, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel and Dierks Bentley. All for different reasons. The way they make me feel, the time period they represent from my life when I listened to them most, their musical style, how they are/were as human beings and the sonic and lyrical styles behind them all I believe all play a major part in my own sound. 

How would you describe your music in 3 to 5 words?

Fun, catchy and authentic. 

What are a few of your favorite venues to play at?

I played a few shows at House of Blues San Diego that were amazing! I got to open up for Parmalee once at HOB and also Logan Mize.I also opened up for Chris Janson at The Novo in Los Angeles, that was a blast. Tin Roofs are always fun here in Nashville and I always enjoy playing writers rounds at Live Oak, and it was a blast playing Whiskey Jam

What is your recording process like when creating and making new music?

My last few singles I’ve recorded with Grady Saxman at his studios in Mt. Juliet, TN. It usually takes a few days and involves a night of pre-production where we work through the song acoustically to make sure we have the structure of the song completed and charted out. The next day we’ll bring in the session players to come in and track the song as a band. That is always my favorite part of the process to simply watch and be amazed by the talent in the room. We’re talking some of the best musicians in the world here in Nashville and I am very grateful for that. Then I’ll track the vocals, send the song out for mixing and mastering and there you go! You’ve heard the saying “it takes a village” and Nashville country music is no exception to that. 

What is one of your favorite quotes?

How do you like the food here at Camp Hope?

Is there anything else you would like to share? 

Thanks for having me! My social channels are all @STEPHENRAYMUSIC on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, etc. Go follow! 

Megan Dawson (Q&A)!!!

Emma-Lee Photography
  1. Hello Megan, can you tell us all a little bit about yourself before you became a country musician?

Before becoming a country musician I actually attended my first year of University whilst also coaching volleyball! I definitely loved music and secretly would sing but never in front of people. I didn’t play an instrument at the time and so I would write poetry and lyrics but had never written a full song. About a year later, I met some family friends that were musical and I would do some backup vocals in their band through summer of 2016. In the Fall that followed, I went and bought my first guitar and then taught myself how to play four chords through Google and YouTube. From there, I wrote my first song and have continued writing and performing ever since!

  1. What made you want a career in country music?

I have always loved a wide range of types of music including, Shania Twain, Avril Lavigne, Britney Spears, Taylor Swift etc. In regards to writing and creating music, I have found home for me is incorporating hooky melodies with lyrics that really capture an emotion and tell a story. I feel this is where I have found the balance with a pop-country sound and where my music feels most authentic to me.

  1. Who are some of your musical icons?

Shania Twain has always been one of my favorite artists of all time. Her ability to be so versatile in her sound has always really inspired me in being fearless in the pursuit of creating music that has a unique sound. Taylor Swift is definitely another artist who has inspired me from both a songwriting and artistry perspective, especially in her ability to continue to grow and enter into new chapters as an artist over the duration of a long career.

  1. What is the background story behind your new single “Kissed Me Like That?”

I first heard this song about a year ago and immediately fell in love with it. The song was written by Emma-Lee, Madeline Merlo and Lindsay Rimes and brings to life the concept of experiencing a love unlike you’ve ever experienced before. This felt so fitting to where I am at in my life and the overall vibe and sound was so on point with the type of song I wanted to record. It brings a vibrancy that really resonated with me and also felt like the perfect summer song.

  1. What is your recording process like when you are making and creating new music?

For my last few singles I have been able to work with my amazing producer, “Dan Swinimer” and it was such an amazing experience. For my first two singles this year, I had the opportunity to be the voice on these songs written by such incredible writers and it was such a great time bringing my sound and story to the concept created by the writers. The recording process was so much fun and I found it challenged me to grow into my voice and learn so much about myself as an artist. 

  1. How would you describe your music in 3 to 5 words?

I would say; bright, relatable, authentic.

  1. What are a few of your favorite venues to play at?

I love playing at The King Eddy in Calgary. I have so many amazing memories of both acoustic and full band shows at this venue and I find the audience is always so present and attentive which is really special. I also loved playing at the YYC International Airport and being able to welcome people into the city, I always had a story to tell after playing here for a few hours and I always thought that was such a cool and unique way to share live music with people. 

  1. What is one of your favorite quotes?

“Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” – Babe Ruth. I love this quote because I have always found that getting out of my comfort zone, challenging myself and pursuing through something that brought upon a sense of fear at the beginning, is one of the most rewarding feelings.

Megan Dawson~ Artist Spotlight!!!

Emma-Lee Photography

Megan Dawson is a country and pop singer and songwriter from Calgary, AB. In July of 2021, she was nominated for the YYC Music Awards “Solo Artist of the Year.” Dawson has joined many artist development programs such as Canada’s Music Incubator’s Artist Entrepreneur West professional development program at Studio Bell, home of the National Centre (2019) and the RBC Launchpad Entrepreneur program (2021).

With over 640,000 combined streams on Spotify, making the Yangroo DMDS “Most Active Indie” list on its first week at radio with “Influence” and being shown on various editorial playlists on Spotify (Live Country, New Music Friday Canada, Fresh Finds Country), “Influence” has made for a great start to 2022.

Dawson’s latest single, “Kissed Me Like That,” was produced by Dan Swinimer, and written by Madeline Merlo, Emma-Lee and Lindsay Rimes. The song showcases a thrilling sound for the artist. It also brings hooky lyrics and a lively melody expressing the feelings of happiness when falling in love. With the mixing of Dawson’s dazzling vocals, this song showcases a lively sound to the pop/country scene. 

If you would like to find out more about the talented Megan Dawson go take look at her social media pages down below. Thanks again MD, for wanting to be a part of my site! 

Emma-Lee Photography

Social Media Accounts: 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MeganDawsonMusic/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/megandawsonmusic/?hl=en

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MegDawsonMusic

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKiOGQtJQXuXHkwbY1lYTnA

Jon Edmund~ Q&A!!

  1. Hi Jon, can you tell us all a little bit about yourself before you became a country musician? Before I became a country artist, I was actually a drummer in a pop/rock band called ONE TWO TEN.  After doing that I was hooked, I knew I wanted to work in the industry, but not always as a drummer.
  2. Who are some of your musical icons? My main musical hero is Toby Keith.  I believe as a writer and an artist he has been able to not only have one of the most successful careers but able to impact so many people through the music he continues to make.
  3. What made you want a career in country music? As I grew up in Oklahoma, country music was ingrained in my lifestyle, so I think it was more of an instinctive thing to want to write country music than anything.
  4. What is the background of your latest single “Country Girl Swing?” I wrote Country Girl Swing about people always judging other people about how they live their life but when in reality everyone just wants to enjoy life even though they may go about that in different ways.  I have the dream of watching people line dance to this song.
  5. How would you describe your music in 3 to 5 words? Upbeat, Driven, Storytelling
  6. What is your recording process like when you are creating and making new music?  I actually wrote these songs by myself so it wasn’t until taking it into the studio did I start involving other people.  For Country Girl Swing, I got to work with some people I really look up to like Rich Redmond (Drummer for Jason Aldean) and Trent Bell, and Chad Copelin to name a few, so it was just an amazing experience getting to have them be a part of bringing this song to life.
  7. What are a few of your favorite venues to play at? Some of my favorite venues are actually in Oklahoma.  I have gotten to play at some amazing venues like The Zoo Amphitheater, The Jones Assembly, and Diamond Ballroom.  All very different but such cool places.
  8. What is one of your favorite quotes? The quote that I live my life by is “Don’t wait for opportunities, create them”. I’m not sure if anyone is quoted saying that so I say that I made it up (even though I am sure other people have said it too).
  9. Is there anything else you would like to share? I would like to share that this is just the beginning.  I am releasing a three-song EP called Southern Gentleman in June.

Jon Edmund~ Artist Spotlight!!

Country singer/songwriter Jon Edmund is 22 years old and is from Norman, Oklahoma. Although he is new to releasing his music, he is not new to the music scene. Through playing in many different bands, writing, producing and mixing, he feels greatly thankful to get so many outlooks on how music is made and how the industry works. His first EP, “Southern Gentleman,” will be coming out on June 10th, 2022 and will feature three songs that will show what kind of artist he wants to be. 

Edmund’s latest single is “Country Girl Swing,” and it came this year. His music is available to listen on both Spotify and Apple Music. If you would like to find out more  about Jon Edmund please go check out his social media pages down below. Thanks again Jon for being a part of my site. 

Social Media Accounts:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jonedmundmusic/?hl=en

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jonedmundmusic

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSKRURYB_RNXRDWavffS06Q

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JonEdmundMusic

Kate Cameron’s Eclair Cake (No Bake) Recipe!!!

Ingredients:

1 box Original Graham Crackers

2 instant French Vanilla or Vanilla pudding 3 cups cold milk

12 oz. Cool Whip

1 Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge frosting

Directions:

On LOW speed mix together pudding and milk for 2 minutes.

Fold Cool Whip into pudding mixture with rubber spatula.

In 9 X 13 pan, layer 1 package graham crackers (DO NOT CRUSH)

Layer 1/2 pudding mixture, another layer of crackers, rest of pudding, top with last package of graham crackers.

Microwave “opened” container of frosting 45 seconds, stir with butter knife, immediately pour over top layer of crackers. Chill in fridge overnight.

Kate Cameron~ Q&A!!!

  1. Hello Kate! Can you tell us all a little bit about yourself before you became a country artist?

I grew up in a beach town between Boston and Cape Cod called Duxbury MA. Around age 7 I took voice lessons which eventually led to some piano lessons as well. At age 11 I taught myself guitar on a Martin my dad had in our basement which he played from time to time. Even though I did play  a lot of music growing up, I had a really cool childhood, played a lot of sports and was in a lot of different friends groups which, I believe, made me a really well rounded person. I am the youngest of 3 and neither of my older siblings can sing or play any instruments but they always had their friends over blasting music. At my core I have always loved the radio. I didn’t really get into country music until highschool but when I did it totally changed the course of my life. 

  1. What made you want a career in country music?

In highschool I changed my friend group who all LOVED country music. I’ll never forget one of them gave me a couple Miranda Lambert CD’s and I was floored. I never heard anything quite like it yet had never related to something so quickly. At the time Eric Church and Lady Antebellum were also hitting their first huge wave of success so I got really into both of them as well. I was pretty close to going to college in Nashville but ended up getting a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston which I took as a sign that I needed to be there.

  1. Who are some of your musical icons?

As a musician this question always throws me for loop because I never clung to one specific artist for too long. I was constantly jumping into different genres. But several big names I took a lot of inspiration from are Joss Stone, Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, Miranda Lambert, Gavin Degraw, Maren Morris and you could even say Britney Spears for her attention to her performance. 

  1. How would you describe your music in 3 to 5 words?

Soul, Style, Grit, and Grace.

  1. What is the background behind your new song “Turn on Your Light?”

In August of 2020 I received a track from a musician in town. He asked if I wanted to write to it as he had a female artist friend in mind for it. He actually told me the girl he wanted to create it for was going through quite a tough year. At that time we had all been through a tough year so I took that concept and flipped it into a comforting song of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Long story short, I then brought the song to Peter Shurkin who I have worked with for several years who produced the song with Goffrey Moore. We ended up cutting the song with more live band production which ended up being the best fit for the lyrics and melody.

  1. Where are a few of your favorite venues to play at?

Since going to Berklee I never had a typical social college experience so playing in bars and clubs in my late teens and early 20’s really became that for me. In Boston I used to play 3-4 nights a week over the summer and really gained my chops in every type of dive bar to five star hotel possible to play in town. Once I moved to Nashville, I started playing a bit Downtown but over the years really gravitated towards playing in Midtown. I have played so many songwriter nights on Demonbreun it feels like several hundred. This past year I started playing 4 hour cover gigs at Live Oak which has become quite the spot for musicians in town. I really enjoy it there, the staff and crowd are always fantastic. 

  1. What is your recording process like when making and creating new music?

It really depends on the song. “Turn On Your Light” was really unique because I wrote it to a track rather than starting it on my own. Usually I can demo all my songs on my own then send them to a proper producer to create.

  1. What is one of your favorite quotes?  

“Be a jack hammer” –  Billy Ray Cyrus  –   I recently heard him say this in an interview on the Bobby Bones podcast. His story really hit a note with me in the fact that he played bars and clubs for a decade before getting signed to any sort of deal. (Which essentially could be my story as well) The phrase basically means hit your daily grind from all angles and as many times as possible. 

  1. Is there anything else you would like to share?

I really hope most people can take one part of “Turn On Your Light” and resonate with it! Hope to stay in touch! XO

Kate Cameron~ Artist Spotlight!!!

Country singer Kate Cameron is equal areas of soul, grit, and grace. Cameron’s clear and rare vocal sound lands between two places her Boston background and her Nashville icons. At times you can hear aping soul and rock vocalists such as Susan Tedeschi or Aerosmith yet she also has the song/songwriter appreciation of singers like Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert. 

In 2015, Cameron graduated from Berklee College of Music, obtaining a Bachelor of Music focusing in Songwriting and where she also got the chance to perform for and honor Doug Morris, a top industry executive who formerly was a CEO of Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment. While attending Berklee allowed her to refine her vocal craft before taking on Music City. Cameron has been working in the Nashville music setting ever since moving there to release her self-written and co-producing different artist projects. 

Cameron’s latest single “Turn on Your Light,” came out this year and is available to listen on both Spotify and Apple Music. If you would like to find out more about the talented Kate Cameron then please go take a look at her website at (https://www.katecameronmusic.com). 

Social Media Accounts: 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katecameronofficial/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katecameronmusic/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Kate_Cameron

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcyHiQGbpn2lPoMGE48Y-SQ

Eric Lee~ Cadillac Margaritas Recipe

I’m known for my margaritas at parties so here’s my preferred recipe of the Cadillac Margarita!

Directions:

– 3 oz of Casamigos Reposado Tequila and squeeze 1 fresh lime (1 1/2 if you prefer more citrus/tart flavor.)

-1/2 ounce of simple syrup, 1 oz of grand marnier and add a pinch of salt to enhance flavor.

-(If you don’t have Casamigos or want to save money, use any reposado tequila that is 100% de agave and just add a few drops of vanilla sweetener. It’s my secret weapon!)