Sarah Troy

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Sarah Troy is a 22-year-old powerful, pop vocalist originally from Bragg Creek, AB (a little town near Calgary in Canada). She studied music in college in Boston, Massachusetts and moved to Nashville in 2015 at the age of 20. Currently, she has released 6 EPs. Although Sarah considers herself to be a Pop artist, her music has some Folk roots as well. Her music explores relationships, the subject of Nature v. Nurture, and Sarah shares her own vulnerabilities through her lyrics.

A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to hear some of her original music at a songwriters round with previously spotlighted artist, Pat Kiloran, and I just knew that Sarah would be a great artist to spotlight on Shine On Music City. Not only is she an incredible vocalist, but she has a sweet spirit and innocence about her that I love. Her music allowed me to see a different, darker side to her artistry that I found fascinating. I recently reached out to Sarah and we sat down and discussed her hopes for her career in music.

What led you to pursue a career in music?

Music has always been an outlet for me; a kind of self help. So in the beginning, I don’t think I even considered what it would mean to be a “singer/songwriter”. I just new that It was something I wanted and needed to do all the time, almost as a means of survival. As I grew up and began to understand the way lots of people look at their careers – a means to make money – I think I got a little spooked. I didn’t want my job, the thing I wake up most days to do, to be anything other than something I absolutely loved. I understood the appeal to stability, and even in moments questioned if I was better off working a job that I cared about a bit less so that I could be sure to make a little more money, but I don’t think I ever really saw myself doing anything else; I never really had a plan B. Whatever money I might not make in my life because of the career I chose, I’ll make up for in joy; a joy I don’t think I personally could have found anywhere else. 

What is the most challenge part (to you) about being a musician?

I think the growing pains of a musician (or any creative person) can be painful. When we create we lace little pieces of ourselves and our identity into our work. So when it comes time to grow, we have to be willing to take criticism and improve on something that we identify with on a deeply personal level. For me, growing as a musician or songwriter, in many ways means being willing to be hyper-critical of myself and my little creative-offspring. That’s easier some days than others. On one hand, I just want people to tell me they love what I create, but I know that I there are lots of things I want to improve on and I will never improve if I only ever listen to people who praise me. On the flip side, I know I will never please everyone and can’t base my self worth in the respect or admiration of other people. So it’s a tough balance between loving yourself and also being willing to take criticism as an opportunity to grow. 

What has been your most embarrassing moment on stage?

Oh gosh… I’ve had my fair share of these moments. (Haha!) There are two that come to mind and they pretty much tie for “most embarrassing moment on stage”. The first one happened to me when I was in middle school performing in what we called “Calgary Idol”. A bunch of young singers in Calgary all auditioned to compete and perform on a big stage in the middle of one of the shopping malls in the city. I made it past the first round of auditions, and when it was my turn to perform on the big stage in the mall, I was super nervous… so nervous that I forgot all the lyrics and froze in front of hundreds of people. They had to stop the music and walk me off stage. MORTIFYING! 

The other time was when I was in High School. It was in my grade 12 Drama class and we were all performing our final scripts. I got through about 5 minutes of the 15 minute play (in front of a room of all of our family and friends) before I began forgetting all my lines. It got so bad that at one point I just kinda shrugged at my partner and we found a way to end the play. That one was especially hard because I was letting down my partner and our director. We had worked really hard to do well and take our play to competition …and I completely botched the entire thing. Yikes!

Where do you see your career in 10 years? What are your goals for your future in music?

In ten years, I hope to see myself super busy! Writing often, releasing records, touring a bit. Maybe living in L.A., but probably living in Nashville. I want my days to be filled with creativity and connection. My favorite part of my job is being part of the creation of something awesome with people that I admire… so I hope to be doing a lot of that. Maybe more than anything, I want my music to be heard and to impact people. My favorite artists have all had a profound effect on my life and have gotten me through some pretty difficult stuff. It would be such a gift to be able to do the same for others one day! I also want to be able to support myself with my music, but I don’t think I really dream of being rich and famous. I’m sure there are aspects of that I would enjoy if that somehow happened for me, but I could take or leave that part of this industry.

Oh…and I want to be happy… If that’s not too obvious to say. (Haha!) I don’t think my happiness will come from my career alone. Honestly, I think it will have a lot to do with the people in my life and how peaceful my relationship with myself is. In ten years, I want to be continuing to find new ways to love myself and accept myself, and I want my art to be helping others do the same.

Sarah Troy offers a valuable insight into the importance of loving yourself and creating something that can help others, which I believe any artist can benefit from. One of my favorite parts of being involved with artists and their careers is that I get to see each one grow individually, and Sarah is no exception. She has the ability to share her own life experiences through her songs that I believe many people can connect with. Her candid responses and willingness to share her personal feelings on her own growth is something that I find truly special about her as an artist. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this talented songstress!

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Be sure to check out more of Sarah Troy‘s music through her Soundcloud and connect with her via her social media links above.

(Photo credits: Alex Humphreys)

Jamie Becker

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Jamie Becker was born in Whittier, CA. With the support of her family, the 21 year old made the move to Nashville about 3 years ago. Her sultry and bluesy sound leaves you wanting more. Her eclectic vocals might remind you of big names such as: Janis Joplin, Norah Jones, Stevie Nicks or Patsy Cline; but what I believe makes this girl so special (besides her phenomenal voice) is that she has a sweet personality and smile that *shines* so bright, that she has the ability to brighten any room.

We recently sat down for an interview with Jamie to learn even more about her.

What’s your favorite part about being a musician?

There’s moments when the music takes you in and the only thing that matters is the song and everything else gets lost in the song.

What do you think makes you unique as an artist?

My smokey voice and soulful approach to music backed up by a fun-loving spirit and personality.

Who inspires you musically?

My dad Jim Becker. Not only is he a phenomenal father, but he’s a captivating songwriter, singer, and guitar player as well. He recently came out with his self-­recorded and mixed album “Dinosaur” which is starting to take off in the Los Angeles area. He is my biggest inspiration and role model.

What’s the one album you can’t live without?

Abbey Road by the Beatles.

What do you consider your biggest accomplishment (so far) in music/what has been the coolest experience you’ve had in your career so far?

Getting to sing backup on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” with Belmont Chorale for the Rolling Stones was unbelievable. I grew up singing along to Dead Flowers, Gimme Shelter, Streets of Love, Tumbling Dice and the list goes on and on so it really was a dream come true to share the stage with Mick Keith, Charlie, Ronnie, and my idol Lisa Fischer.

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give other artists that are out there trying to make it?

Some advice I’ve been given which has really paid off is aiming to stay true to who I am and working hard at it despite the obstacles along the way.

What venue do you like to perform at the most?

People’s houses­, hands down! The sitting around the campfire vibe can be so much fun and intimate! I aim to achieve the same atmosphere in my shows elsewhere.

What projects are you currently working on?

The Album!!! Currently getting the recording done for a few new tunes including “I Sure Like Country” which traces the genre back to storytelling in its lyrical content. Also looking forward to the fun soul elements in this next album! Also a music video is in the works!

What’s your favorite way to connect with fans?

I’m absolutely terrible at social media, but the last time I posted a video, it seemed to go well and it was pretty fun to do! So, I’ll probably do more of that! And yes, interaction at shows is the best. I love getting that one on one feedback and getting to know fans, especially since they are the reason I do music in the first place!

Who are your biggest supporters?

My family has been so integral in supporting my endeavors. My mom shares every project I’ve ever done with her friends, and my dad is always the first to share posts about my music on social media! They are my biggest supporters, along with my sisters and boyfriend, who not only encourage me when I hit a roadblock, but love me and inspire me constantly.

If you could perform with one artist or band, who would it be?

Jack White. He gets into the nitty gritty soul of music and would be a blast to jam with.

Where do you see your career in 10 years? What are your goals for the future in music?

3 solid albums over the next ten years would be great! At least 50 shows a year would be stellar. I also never want to set limitations on what I create. I hope to evolve as an artist and follow the music where it takes me.

What was your first gig?

Dr. Java,­ a coffee shop in Whittier, CA, where I used to perform with my dad who is also a singer/ songwriter. I would do the first hour, he’d do the second, and we’d finish with an hour of duets! We usually ???

How long have you been performing/playing music?

Singing since age 5; writing songs since 11; performing publicly since 12.

Was there one defining moment for you where you knew that you wanted to play music?

I’ve been singing since I was a little girl. I starred in some main roles in elementary school plays; in middle school began playing music regularly at a coffee shop called Dr. Java with my dad in our duo, “The Beckers”, which later evolved to the Southern roots duo “Deep Fried Bubblegum”. In high school, I had a band that performed at school events and even put together a John Lennon tribute on the anniversary of his passing. I was always doing music and loving it. Academics was a priority, but going to late night open mics was too, as well as going out of town on weekends to perform at festivals, etc. With all that, I think the defining moment was when a Grammy nominated friend of my father’s pulled me aside after my performance in a group to raise money for Paradise High School’s Music Department( my dad’s alma mater) and told me that if I wanted to do music for a living, he believed I could be successful. It was that conversation which got me seriously thinking about my passions and the reality was that I can’t imagine a future without music.

Have you ever had an experience that turned into a song?

All the time. A ladybug and a boy sparked one of my first songs when I was 12. Some painful times influenced “Sweet Lord”, and a frustrating conversation about genre stereotypes led me to write “I Sure Like Country”, which aimed to bring the focus back to my favoring a story-themed country song.

What are your hopes for your future in the music industry?

To be able to support myself doing what I love and maybe have a career like Norah Jones. People love her music but paparazzi are not at her door all the time.

In general, what are your hopes for the music industry?

I want to see more stars who can carry a career with their music alone, as opposed to the all the glittery acrobatics and dancing of the shows and gossip of their social lives. I am a strong believer that if more songwriters/artists spent more time developing a song, as opposed to pumping one out to meet a deadline, there would be more artist success and audiences would begin to value music even more.

Jamie Becker has the type of passion that you can only be born with. Jamie’s love for music and her appreciation for her family’s influence on her musical career is something that is very humbling. Shine On Music City thrives on artists that are truly authentic and perform because of their love for music. We are grateful to be a part of a chapter in Jamie’s musical journey, and we can’t wait to see where her talent takes her!

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Be sure to follow Jamie on Facebook and check out more of her music through SoundCloud and Reverbnation.

(Photo credits: Eva Unzueta)

Shawn Byrne

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A few weeks ago, I had the honor of sitting down with Shawn Byrne and getting to know him better. Shawn’s charisma and passion for music is infectious and I believe is exactly what the music industry needs more of.

Shawn Byrne grew up in Boston and eventually made the move to Nashville. He grew up listening to his dad play polka music with his band, “Happy Travelers”, and knew from an early age that he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps in music. With accolades such as: performing at the Grand Ole Opry, The CMA Awards, George Bush’s homecoming in Midland, TX, and sharing the stage with Rodney Atkins, James Otto, and Kelleigh Bannen, Shawn has had the opportunity to see what it takes to make it in the music industry. Shawn is currently on tour, and recently produced his own album, “Slow Bullet” (which was released in March). His ultimate goal, however, is “Anything I can do that I love”.

During our time together, I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him and watching him light up as we discussed the music industry and everything that he has been working on. In this interview, Shawn’s passion shines through even more.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years. What are your goals for the future in music?

In 10 years I hope to be healthy and happy foremost. I’d like to have a kid with my beautiful wife Amy. I’d love to still be playing, writing and performing. I don’t think I’ll ever stop doing that.  I’d love to have grown as an artist and as a human being making a difference in the world.  For my future music career? I’d love to have connected with a large fan base that appreciates and supports what I do. I want more than anything to be successful enough to go on the road with a full band and even a crew. That’s the ultimate goal for me. There’s no greater feeling than being on stage with 4 or five of your best friends making music right there in front of an attentive and appreciative audience.  I’d don’t care about being famous, it’s more about being able to just simply do it and do it well to the degree that lots of people want to see how great the music is. The music is what it’s all about.

If you could perform with one artist or band, who would it be?

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.  Tom Petty is one of my heroes. The man has carved an incredible career for himself and he has done it without selling out. He plays the music he wants to play and he does it with integrity.  Tom has cultivated an incredibly loyal and appreciative fan base which again, is my ultimate goal.

As a guitar player I’ve always admired Mike Campbell’s style. He loves old guitars and amps like me. He plays exactly what is needed for the song and his guitar parts, aside from Tom’s vocals, are one the most crucial elements in the Heartbeakers sound.  My dream would be to stand onstage with Tom and Mike and the rest of the band and just play all the classics.

What are your hopes for the future of the music industry?

Well right now the internet is the iceberg that put a giant hole the Titanic know as “the music business”.  It’s been sinking for a long time now and I think right now we’re seeing the tail end of the behemoth sticking out of the water and pretty soon the gurgling bubbles will be all that is left.  Yeah, that’s pretty dramatic I know. Right now only the top artists are making any money on the commercial level and sadly popular music has been distilled down this one goal: How can we make as much money as fast as we can. The major labels and the corporate radio stations are all “in bed together” and are pumping out music that is the equivalent to high fat, high sugar fast food. I call it “McSongalds”. It’s working for them right now, but the industry has boxed out any artist who want’s to do their own thing. Who wants to create music that sounds original and actually says something. The current model for commercial success is one that encourages a homogeneous sound.  Notice how on country radio you hear basically the same words over and over again. The same chord progressions and vocal phrasing. The same production. “McSongalds”.  I must say it has been getting better.  The trend is leaning towards songs with better lyrics and interesting musical ideas which is encouraging.  Streaming is a huge problem right now and has completely decimated album sales. Why purchase a song when you can stream it. The problem is is that streaming music barely pays the songwriters. So there’s a lot of really depressing things going on in the music business and there’s some exciting things going on as well.  As an independent artist, the internet is an incredible way to reach people who would never have known about me before. It’s an incredible marketing tool but sadly that doesn’t always amount to record downloads.

For the future of the music business, I want to see a world where artists and songwriters can get paid fairly for their work. Right now you can have millions of streams on Pandora and not make enough to pay rent. That is just simply not right. I’d like to see a model that exists that simply is fair.

With a desire to produce honest and real country music (and a family background deeply rooted in music), Shawn has a true understanding of the music industry and the importance of doing what you love.

Be sure to check out Shawn Byrne‘s music on his website: http://www.shawnbyrnecountry.com/ and his Youtube channel, or connect with him through his social media links below.

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(Photo credit: Stacie Huckeba)