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Member Spotlight

GSC Members win USA Song Contest

USA Song ContestCongratulations to GSC members John Cirillo and Daniel Reifsnyder, GSC reporter, and artist/writer Sarah Spencer whose co-write ”If You Drink” won FIRST PLACE in the Country category of the USA Songwriting Contest.

John entered the song into the contest so only he is recognized as the winner on the Songwriting.net website. He has been a member of GSC for 5 years and has worked diligently as a songwriter for many years. John is known in our Nashville community for bringing writers together, making connections, including others and for his disciplined work ethic. In addition, he regularly supports GSC and volunteers for most of our events when he is in town. Below is the link where you can check out the actual Contest Results. In the meantime, reach out to John Cirillo on our GSC Facebook page or on his personal page and congratulate him, as well as Daniel and Sarah!

See the Winners on Songwriting.net

 

Interview with Riley Roth

Riley RothThanks to GSC Reporter, Dan Reifsnyder

Dan Reifsnyder: What first got you into music?

Riley Roth: My parents tell me that I have been singing since before I could talk, but it really became a bigger interest when I started musical theater at eight years old. I fell in love with singing, picked up the guitar, and started writing songs at 10 years old. By the age of 12, I was playing local shows, then doing shows out of state. My love for performing just kept growing.

DR: How did you meet Sheree and get involved with GSC?

RR: I made trips to Nashville every month for two years, before I moved here last March. During that time, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of great writers and connections. Someone whom I met, here in Nashville, reached out and suggested that I join Global Songwriters Connection. I met Sheree after I joined. I absolutely love her! She is a blessing and inspires and encourages me to grow as both a writer and an artist.

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Interview with Anne-Louise Sterry

Anne Louise SterryThanks to GSC Reporter, Dan Reifsnyder

Dan Reifsnyder: How did you meet Sheree and get involved in GSC?

Anne-Louise Sterry: My friend Amy Russ, was at the Live on Stage conference. She shared a CD one of my songs with Sheree and we got connected. Now I am working with her on getting my song ‘”If I Had Loved You More” out into the world, as well as helping me share Audacious Joy around the world!

DR: Audacious joy! I love that term. So you’re a speaker, author and storyteller…tell me more about that.

AS: Long story! I started singer and storytelling with with toddlers. I was asked to speak at an early childhood event, sharing how to use music and storytelling with children. From that small beginning came performing at grade schools all over the country, then Europe, writing a book, speaking at many different kinds of events, creating a CD course, an online course, writing songs and so it goes! I can honestly say I never planned this – I just wanted to sing and tell stories!! I realized that through all of this, joy was my focus. Now my speaking work always has the theme of ‘Sharing the Power of Audacious Joy.’ I also have an alter ego ‘Aunt Lena who also speaks and performs!!’

You can go to my web site http://www.anne-louise.com to see her! Oh gosh, you see why I said long story!

DR: Who are some of your musical influences?

AS: Broadway Musicals! The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary, Kingston Trio…

DR: What are some songs you wish you’d written?

AS: Oh, so many cause the world is filled with beautiful music! Right now it is “Imagine” by John Lennon.

DR: Do you have any projects in the works?

AS: Yes, right now I am recording a CD of stories for children. I am also preparing for a tour of schools in California and a keynote for an early childhood conference.

DR: Wonderful! Well, the world could certainly use more audacious joy! Thank you for spreading it and spending some time answering questions!

 

My GSC Story featuring Brett Mandel

Global Songwriters Connection is a career mentoring and talent building organization whose desire is to build authentic, artistic and sustainable careers in the music business. This process takes time and we are so honored to share some of our members GSC stories in this section called “MY GSC STORY!” This week features Brett Mandel.

       To talk about my GSC journey, I actually have to backtrack. Years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing the power of Sheree during her NSAI days. I remember being outside of the offices before a Thursday night meeting. Sheree came out to the porch, and in such a positive, heartfelt way encouraged and welcomed attendees like I had never seen before. It was easy to see that this was a special person, who cared about others, and had her heart in the right place. Her passion was and is infectious. I eventually heard about GSC, but hesitated to join due to the financial aspect. It was one of the best investments I have ever made in my life, and the best as far as my career goes. This is my GSC story.

Brett Mandel       I joined GSC in April of 2014, and soon had a mentoring meeting with Sheree. She immediately saw something special in me and my songs. I told her my goals, and she laid out a game plan. She made it clear we would be successful together, but it would be a journey and take some time. From that first meeting a special bond, trust, and friendship began. We began to have regular contact, I received regular guidance, and opportunities, both directly and indirectly. In addition to connecting me to industry professionals, she has connected me with writers and artists she thought were appropriate. Sheree eventually let me know she felt I would be an ideal candidate for one of her Focus events. Again, I was reluctant to spend the money, but I chose to invest in myself, my dreams, and my career. The highlight for me was the opportunity to write with Victoria Banks. I brought in a song idea I thought was extra special, and had held onto since 2007. We wrote that idea with Jayne Sachs, and to this day it is possibly the key song in my catalog. Her publisher loved the song, decided to demo it, and pitched it directly to Garth Brooks. It is and will always remain one of the biggest highlights of my life. That song has received an overwhelming industry response,continues to open doors for me, and has lead to various opportunities. I also was blessed with the opportunity to write with hit writer Steve Dean (eight number ones). Steve is now a friend and regular co-writer of mine, and we have two songs about to be pitched for major artists. Also, one of the publishers at the event was Matt Lindsey, who at the time had his own company. He will come into play later in my story.

        Later in 2014, I was so excited when I saw an online pitch opportunity came up with Devon DeVries from Big Yellow Dog. This has been my dream publisher for years. I submitted my song “Different Ways Of Dealing”. I remember that night vividly. I was in a night co-write, and could not watch the event. I received a text from Sheree saying how much Devon loved my song, and that she could get me a meeting with him. To say I was excited would be a major understatement. It took months of us both reaching out to him, but I finally got my meeting in March of 2015. He and I immediately clicked, as people and musically. He was into my music, respected me, and gave me a priceless open door to him and Big Yellow Dog. He made it clear that they are picky about who they bring into their fold, so this was a big deal. He advised me that he would be playing my music for other industry people, which he did. Later in 2015, I had a write scheduled with the amazingly talented Clayton Jones. Sheree connected me to Clayton, and he eventually became a friend and regular co-writer. Just before our write that day, Clayton called to let me know Devon contacted him to come into a last minute write. He did an amazing thing for me, and invited me into the write with Devon’s blessing. Devon instructed us to write a very specific type song for TV and film that day, which we did. He loved the song, and signed Clayton and I to a single song contract. This was a dream come true for me to sign any kind of contract with them. I would have never had these relationships and opportunities without Sheree and GSC.

     Sheree has continued to guide me since day one on not only the songwriting aspect of my career, but also how to conduct myself professionally, and make the most of opportunities. She has also always been there to support me through the doubts and desperation, encouraged me, and helped me to see the bigger picture. Some things I could not see or did not want to see then, but in time she was proven to be so right. One thing she always stressed to me is that you do not always know what is going on behind the scenes. Man, was she right about that! Let’s fast forward to January 2017. I received an unexpected message from Matt Lindsey, who is currently at Big Yellow Dog. He asked me to get in touch with him regarding an artist write. I immediately called him, and he explained that he was looking for the right writer to bring in as his writers were booked. He said what led to me was a referral from Devon. Remember, things with Devon started in 2015 during a GSC online pitch event, and I originally met Matt at the 2014 Focus event. Everything Sheree relayed to me about time, the journey, and letting relationships build was absolutely right on. That first write went well, which soon led me to a second one, and my relationship with my dream publisher continues to build thanks to GSC.

      I have taken calculated steps involving networking, business relationships, and stressing artist and pro writes. Sheree’s guidance, referrals, opportunities, knowledge, and connections have been priceless in my journey. She has gone over and beyond to be there for me, and help me to progress, both personally and professionally. By giving me her most important assets, her time and educated guidance, she has put me in the position to win. So many of my past and current co-writers, as well as industry relationships, have come directly through GSC. I now have my first single out as a songwriter, “Champagne”, by Elizabeth Lyons. I co-wrote it with Elizabeth and fellow GSC member, Troy Castellano. The song was recently featured on iTunes Hot Tracks. I almost exclusively write with rising and established artists and pro writers. If I connect my career dots, they come back time and time again to Sheree and GSC. I have not signed my deal or had my major cut yet. However, I am already leading the life of a full time pro writer, and I would not be in this position without this amazing lady and her  priceless company. The fact that I invested in GSC and Sheree invested in me has changed my life and career. I am a better writer and person for it. Sheree has showed me the importance of paying it forward. I have mentored others over the past few years, and that is a priority for me as my career progresses. I consider her and her company one of the greatest blessings in my life, and she is still right by my side as my journey continues.

       

Interview with Jessica Mack

Jessica MackThanks to GSC reporter, Dan Reifsnyder

Dan Reifsnyder:  So what brought you to Nashville?

Jessica Mack:  I guess ultimately the Lord – I was just praying like “Lord, where do You want me to go?” and He made it pretty clear that it was Nashville. He even kinda redirected me to music after I gave up on that dream.

DR: You gave up?

JM: Yeah, I kinda did. In college, I started out as a music major and you know you have to take classical theory and stuff. It just wasn’t my jam. I was falling asleep in class and worried it would destroy my love for music. So I switched majors and got a job in the corporate world – I got a job as a receptionist. What was cool about this job was that they had a company band! They had auditions for a lead singer because the old one got a deal or something, and I got the gig! It reintroduced me to my love of music! Then I felt like the Lord was calling me to pursue music on a full time basis.  So I returned to Arkansas for a year before moving to Nashville.

DR: So you’ve also been to Honduras and Haiti?

JM: Yes! And that was another cool thing. I remember hearing from the Lord in Haiti about what genre of music to do. This guy we were on the trip with – a pastor – was always singing. And someone on the trip was like “You’re always singing songs to the Lord!” and he said “If you’re going to sing about something, sing about the truth!” And that reinforced that I should do Christian music.

DR: So who are your musical influences?

JM: I’m very much a Pop girl. I love the Top 40. I love me some 90’s Pop…Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey. “Always Be My Baby” was my jam. And riding with my mom we’d always listen to Country or Christian – Reba, Jo Dee Messina, Shania Twain. I’ve always leaned more towards the females. For Christian music Natalie Grant, Nichole Nordeman, Stacie Orrico, Jaci Velasquez…a new influence I’ve discovered recently is Hollyn. She’s brought something different to the genre.

DR: What are some songs you wish you’d written?

JM: There’s so many good songs…I’m a sucker for worship songs like “Good, Good Father”. It’s simple and true. Songs that are glorifying to God and speaks to people and are transformative, you know? Pop songs, like just fun songs, this is totally opposite but like “…Baby, One More Time”. It’s a fun song that everybody knows. Or even like “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” – songs that bring joy, you know?

DR: How did you get hooked up with GSC?

JM: I think it was through Tanya Sue!

DR: She’s great, I love her!

JM: Me too! We had met on the street actually. So random. We were walking out of a concert or a hockey game and her and I just started talking and she’s just a little ball of joy. We wrote together and she told me about Sheree. I talked to my manager Paul, and he said “I know Sheree! She goes to my church!”  So I introduced myself and showed her my music and the rest is history. I know God orchestrated it. She’s been a huge blessing.

DR: I mentioned this recently, but she is the most supportive person I know for songwriters – she is 100% in their corner.

JM: It’s such an amazing thing. I relate it back to the Gospel  because it almost doesn’t make sense how supportive and sacrificial she can be of herself. She’s the embodiment of Christ.

DR: Do you have a project coming up that you want to talk about?

JM: Sure! I released my first EP in December, that was my Country EP. But I felt led to change tracks and do Christian. So I’ve been writing a lot and trying to build a catalog. I’m excited! I’ve written some songs with some really great writers. I’m hoping it’ll be out by the end of the year, maybe October. I might have a single this summer too.

DR: So aside from releasing an EP, what are your goals for this year?

JM: Good question. Have you ever heard how we’ve got 7 or 8 different spokes in our lives? Like, family, spiritual, financial, etc. So I’ve set goals for each of them but I guess in the forefront is finishing that EP, and another is going deeper into relationships with teen moms that I’ve been working with. The Lord has also called me to start a non profit home for teen moms.

DR: Tell me about that!

JM: Sure! When I got involved in Young Life, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. But the Lord just broke my heart wide open. I came to realize there are so many young mothers who are in abusive relationships, who are homeless. And there’s no place that will take teenage mothers and their children. A lot of places won’t take both of them, they will separate them. It’s definitely one of the biggest calls I’ve had on my life.

DR: Well, very cool. Thanks for talking today!

JM: You’re welcome!

My GSC Story with Mitch and Diann Hammer

Global Songwriters Connection is a career mentoring and talent building organization whose desire is to build authentic, artistic and sustainable careers in the music business. This process takes time and we are so honored to share some of our members GSC stories in this section called “MY GSC STORY!” This week features Mitch and Diann Hammer.

Song Contest and Awards:

  • 2016 John Lennon Session II, “Tidal Wave” grand prize winner in country category. Currently in contention for the 2016 John Lennon Song of the Year.
  • 2016 Mid Atlantic Song Contest: “No One Knows” second place Silver Award winner in pop category; “Magic” honorable mention in pop category, and “Sunset View” honorable mention in the open category.
  • 2016 Song Door ICS: “Night Ride” and “Tidal Wave” honorable mention in the country category and “No One Knows” and “Feeling You Everywhere” honorable mention in pop category
  • 2016 Pensacola: “No One Knows” placed 4th
  • 2015 Pensacola: “Tidal Wave” placed 5th and “Magic” placed 7th
  • 2015 Frank Brown: “Magic” placed 6th; Night Ride placed 9th; “Tidal Wave” honorable mention

Our Journey

Mitch and Diann HammerOur musical journey grew out of having fun singing duets with each other at our local karaoke bars. We loved the stories that country songs told and we thought it might be fun to see if we could write a country song. Things started moving towards that direction when Mitch bought a keyboard to see if he could retool his piano skills. From there we crafted a few songs (lyrics only) but did not know the next steps. After a search on the internet we located several song associations in Nashville (NSAI and Taxi) that sounded promising as they offered song evaluations and we saw that as a starting point.

Sometime around 2012, Mitch joined both NSAI and Taxi and sent in our songs for evaluation. We receive some positive feedback and words of encouragement! So, we looked at the videos on the NSAI website, subscribed to American Songwriting Magazine (where we found and ad from William Sherry, Jr. to demo some very early versions of our songs), went on Amazon and ordered all types of books on song writing. We bounced around a bit but did not seem to be getting to where we wanted to go with our writing and William suggested we join Global Songwriters Connections.

This was the best decision for both Mitch and Diann and in December 2014 we had our first mentoring session with Sheree’. It was life changing and the real beginning towards learning the craft as songwriters. We continued to take advantage of all the many GSC services available including song evaluations, bio development, continued mentoring and the POP events. With Sheree’s guidance and advice, our songwriting continued to improve.

However, as lyricist we struggled to find someone to work with to put music to our lyrics or to cowrite with. In June 2015, Sheree’ graciously connected us with Clayton Jones who breathed life into our lyrics with his melodies and voice. The ability to work with such a gifted singer/songwriter provided us a tremendous opportunity to stretch out of our comfort zones. Since that time, we have continued to work with Clayton and have co- written several songs together (some placed in the top ten in song contests, with “No One Knows” receiving a Silver Award in the 2016 Mid-Atlantic Song Contest). Having the opportunity to co-write songs from the ground floor up with Clayton is a lyricist’s dream.

By GSC invitation, Mitch and I attended our first FOCUS event in September 2016. What an amazing growth experience! Being part of GSC has connected us to some very talented members and we now co-write with several songwriters and we now make more frequent trips to Nashville. We are convinced that without the help from the entire GSC team we would still be spinning our wheels instead of living our dream to be songwriters.

Interview with David Borys

David BorysThanks to GSC reporter, Dan Reifsnyder

Dan Reifsnyder: How did you get into songwriting?

David Borys: Well, I started in a band in Canada, a band called The Steel Toe Boots, and we had some moderate success as an independent act, yet I noticed that as the band grew in reputation and I started to develop a strong network of other musicians, songwriters and music professionals, songwriting became more and more of a required activity. Eventually I found that songwriting gave me far more artistic satisfaction then performing, so much so that I was enjoying writing for other artists, watching them perform those songs, more than I was enjoying performing my own songs. Thus through the band and my early years in the country industry I really became interested in songwriting.

DR: Who are some of your musical influences?

DB: There are many. Certainly in musically everything I do is on a Bruce Springsteen barometer, meaning, would Bruce approve of this. Most of the time he might not, but nonetheless to me Bruce is the greatest. I love the classics CCR, The Band, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, etc, they all inform me musically one way or another. In terms of current songwriters, I love the work that Hillary Lindsey, Chris Stapleton, and Shane McAnally, (just to name a few) are creating.

DR: How did you hear about GSC?

DB: Through Canadian representative Doug Folkins. One of many good pieces of advice he’s given me on my journey.

DR: What made you want to join?

DB: Doug mentioned that Sheree and the GSC provide a real forum of support, networking, connecting. It’s not just about taking your money and then letting you go on your merry way, it’s about giving you the tools and the knowledge to succeed.

DR: What do you feel is different about GSC?

DB: Simply that Sheree is so hands on with people. That if you want to be a part of the GSC community and grow as a songwriter/artist Sheree, and in turn GSC, is genuinely excited and motivated to help you succeed. so many other organizations will pay lip service to wanting to facilitate this type of growth but never really act on it.

DR: What are some songs you wish you’d written?

DB: Cop Car” written by Zach Crowell, Sam Hunt, and Matt Jenkins,  ・ Smoke” by A Thousand Horses, “A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell, “Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen, “What Are you Listening to” by Chris Stapleton.

DR: Not living in Nashville – much less the US – must present some interesting obstacles career wise. How do you work that out?

DB: It痴 not easy, especially with the dollar so low in Canada. I focus mostly on creating a strong writing group in Canada, there are some amazingly talented writers in Canada, many in Vancouver where I live, and I am trying to create a stable of writers that I feel I can create songs that are equal to those coming out of Nashville. While doing that I continue to build my relationships with writers in the US, yearly trips to Nashville, Skype writes and continued networking are all extremely important when you are not at the centre of an industry.

DR: What do you feel is the biggest difference between the Canadian music scene and Nashville?

DB: The Canadian music scene is so spread out, there is no one centre of creative output. Thus I write constantly with writers across the country via skype. But the Canadian music industry is strong, and because it is so much smaller than the US, one can network fairly effectively if at the write events. In general Skype has been an extremely useful tool in connecting me with so many other writers and industry professionals, as far south as Texas, and as far east as Nova Scotia.

DR: Thanks for your time today, David!

DB: You’re welcome!

Mary Haller Signs Publishing Deal

Mary Haller

Mary Haller

We can’t stop talking about Mary Haller! Mary recently signed a deal with Woody Bomar at Green Hills Music Group and just landed her first CUT as a signed writer! We couldn’t be more excited for the great things happening for this amazing lady.

In March of 2013, Sheree Spoltore played a song for Woody written by Mary entitled “A Little Sign.” And just this month it was picked up by artist Tyler Barham!

Let this story be a little sign to YOU to continue writing and keep the faith! This song was played for Woody THREE YEARS AGO and now, it’s a CUT!

Songs are played and picked up at our POP Events frequently, and perhaps you may not hear back from that publisher. However, it doesn’t mean that the publisher isn’t working the song and looking for options to place it.

You never know…you, too, may get a call back three years from now and hear, “Congrats, I just got you a CUT!”

Interview with Tanya Sue Pollard

Tanya Sue PollardThanks to GSC reporter, Dan Reifsnyder

Dan Reifsnyder: I feel like everyone who has had contact with GSC knows who you are – you often reach out to members on Sheree’s behalf, you’re at mixers…but how did you get started with them?

Tanya Sue: Well, I knew Sheree from her days with NSAI – I had gone in to a mentoring session there, and I was in a low place. And she kind of stopped me, and said “I’ve gone through things as well, and we’re not going to count this as a session. You’re not alone.” She talked to me about what was going on in my life, and gave me a picture of a purple flower, which I still have to this day. So I started helping her with events she used to have, with events at the Orbison building. It was definitely a God thing.

DR: So you’ve been with GSC since day one, then. I don’t think I realized that!

TS: Yeah, she’s like my favorite person. I watched her build her company from the ground up.

DR: What do you think is different about GSC?

TS: GSC is fully based around heart – there’s so much heart and love, hard work and soul in that program that Sheree puts in. Her husband, and Jim, and everyone that’s a part of it. I’ve never known any organization that has that much love and care for members. She wants to encourage her members all the time, and she really loves and cares. No matter who the member is, she’ll always remember something about them – where they live, a lyric that they’ve written. No other place is like that.

DR: So what’s it been like working for Sheree?

TS: Honestly, it’s been amazing therapy for me. This sounds whatever, but she’s like an angel on this earth – I always call working with her therapy sessions. It helps me grow as a person – not just on the business side, but knowing who I am and believing in myself, and believing that I can do what I was meant to do in this world. So working with her is really a miracle, because I don’t know where I would have been if I hadn’t met her. Her positivity, her spirit, is just so contagious.

DR: It really is! So you have a mission, a purpose behind your music. Tell me about that.

TS: It was through Sheree, and she helped me realize this program. Dark City Light is bringing awareness to suicide and letting people know they’re not alone, and letting people know that you can get through it. And during that process when I was suffering, when you lose hope that’s like the danger zone. I was kind of in that phase when I started with Sheree, but as I went to therapy and started talking to Sheree more, she said “You know, you’ve lived through this….this is your calling.” She really helped encourage that inner spark in me that wanted to speak to men and women of all ages and all walks of life. Suicide is just a statistic, people are embarassed about it, it’s shunned. Peope don’t understand unless they’ve gone through it. So I’m out there to be a voice for those suffering with mental illness, depression, negative thoughts that have been programmed into their minds. To be a role model and spokesman, to let them know that they can get through this.

DR: So you actually are a public speaker as well?

TS: Yes, I worked with Glen Cliff school where we worked with the students for a few weeks and then put on a show in front of the high school body. My goal is to keep doing that, keep working with the high schools. And with the few high schools I’ve been talking to, the principals are pretty very responsive. They’ve had this stuff going on in their schools, and they feel it needs to be addressed. So that’s definitely a route I’ve been taking, and I’d love to start talking to different organizations as well.

DR: How did you get into songwriting, and being an artist?

TS: I have always loved music, from like 2 years of age. I probably shouldn’t have been watching Sister Act, but I loved it at 2 years old. The two movies I watched were Sister Act and Pocahontas. I wanted to be Whoopi Goldberg, because she was singing and on stage and I wanted to be Pocahontas because she was singing and dancing in the wind. My mom put me in dance lessons, and that was really the start – I was always known as the girl smiling on stage. I was singing from young on, I started in my church, in the youth group. I had a karaoke machine by the age of six. I didn’t think I was songwriting, I was just journaling a lot, like in my diaries. Who knew you could take stuff from that? I sang with my best friend for multiple years – duets at weddings, churches, funerals…fundraisers, a lot of that. Then him and I made it on that Can You Duet show. That was a great experience that awakened me to that whole Nashville scene, because I’m from a small town of less than 2,000. We never had any of that kind of thing by us.

DR: Who are you musical influences?

TS: I loved Karen Carpenter, Meat Loaf – the theatrical stuff – I loved Freddie Mercury. Nowadays I try to base my music off people like Avril Lavigne and Pink – strong voices saying something like “Wow, did she just say that?” You know, gutsy. And I love my girl Kelly Clarkson.

DR: How did you end up moving to Nashville?

TS: Well, after I did that Can You Duet show, I went back to college, worked with a producer, then I did a year abroad studying in Ireland. I still kept up with voice lessons and stuff at school, playing out with my band and stuff. Then senior year, I was like “Alright, I can either move to Chicago or move to Nashville.” The only person I knew was the producer/engineer I had worked with, but I picked up and moved. My housing fell through, so I ended up staying with him and his family for like, six months. In my heart I knew I had to go. It’s hard moving, but I had to do it. This is where I was being called to, and no it’s home.
Main stage.

Johnnie Mikel

Johnnie Mikel

Global Songwriters Member Spotlight

Johnnie Mikel, Singer/Songwriter/Artist

Newcomer Johnnie Mikel may be only 18 years old, but already he’s attracting an enviable amount of attention in music circles. With his first EP Let Love Reign just released and an opening gig for the Charlie Daniels Band to his credit, you can’t blame the teenager for feeling like he’s on top of the world, if not yet the country charts.

Growing up in his hometown of Bowling Green, KY, Johnnie was a shy, creative kid who loved music, writing, and spending time on his family’s farm just outside town. When he was 11, his family relocated to New York City so Johnnie’s sister could pursue an acting career. While there, Johnnie often accompanied her to casting calls and was frequently asked to audition, but shied away from the spotlight, preferring instead to stay behind the scenes. He started writing a personal blog in which he talked about seeing the world through what he calls “a new set of eyes.” The site attracted thousands of viewers, convincing Johnnie that he had a talent for connecting with audiences. “My blog shared stories of hope and positivity,” he says now. “It really showed me how much I valued telling stories and capturing my everyday life in words. I feel like I was training myself to write songs long before I knew it.”

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