Monday, November 16, 2009

Change of Tune...

Well, those of you who know me know that I couldn't go long without posting about the CMA Awards last week and what a shocker it was. Before I get into that, let me say that I did enjoy little parts in the broadcast, like Jamey Johnson singing his song "Between Jennings and Jones" (which is an homage paid to country music, Waylon and George) as well as the tribute paid to Barbara Mandrell, featuring Martina and George Strait. There were other moments that reminded me of the past in face and music, but there is no doubt that times have changed, in more ways than one. First of all, I do not like including so many rock or pop acts in the show just to attract viewers. If you don't like country, we don't care if you watch or not. Not everything in life has to do with ratings and if Daughtry or Dave Matthews was the only reason you cared to watch, then move on ahead. Secondly and Thirdly and so on, I do not agree on how they go about choosing their winners. We here in Music City know that the awards are bought and that they are not voted on. The Country Music Association is about to go bust and so if you want your artist to win, you have to pay a healthy price to get them the trophy. I don't know if its always been that way (since in the past, the winners made more sense) but today, it is very true. On that note, Big Machine Records robbed the show. Stole the show is too positive. Taylor Swift is only music for the youngsters and too pop for country. She is a terrible singer and her moves on stage are a laugh. Entertainer of the Year is the highest honor given to someone who has toured for years and that has proven themselves in the industry. Taylor just started headlining this year and she has certainly not proven herself at 19. Even Female Vocalist was too much of a stretch for me since she can't sing her way out of a wet paper sack. Needless to say, everyone I knew was flabergasted and disgusted by the way the show turned out. And so was I...

But, when something goes 100% one way, like a pendulum, it only has one choice but to swing the other way. Starting from when the awards went off the air last Wednesday, there was the beginning of a new path being formed in country where country songs were being recorded and country singers were being signed. A revolution was being formed out of the ashes of what once was and what will be. In truth, only 5% of true country music listeners still listen to country radio. All the Taylor Fans are 15 year old, Jonas brothers, Hanna Montana lovers not over-25--yr-old-tried-and-true-Strait-or-Reba-fans. I was sickened by the CMA's but more hopeful since I realized that there has been a change of tune in town. A change that has been in development for a few years, since the signing of Jamey Johnson, Randy Houser, Gretchen Wilson, Ashton Shepherd and a few others. Keith Stegall has formed a new label which will be nothing but country and so many more are following suit. I'm glad to say that it is an exciting time and I'm glad to be apart of the scene. So I will let Taylor have her moment just know that a change is coming and this time, it will be for the better.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy Monday!

Not much to report on...Its the time of year that town shuts down for the Holidays and re-releases old Christmas albums from Garth Brooks circa 1995. Town gets sleepy and people take 5 week vacations. Here in a couple of weeks, I will be doing a segment on what and who to look forward to in 2010. Good artists and hopefully better albums. Speaking of, there is a new artist by the name of Easton Corbin that just came out via Mercury Records that I would swear was a young George Strait if I didn't know better. His first single is "A little more country than that" and it is a total winner. If radio gives him a chance then he will be on his way to great things. All it takes is one person believing in you and then it catches on like wildfire. I hope he does well 'cause if he does, then there is a chance for all of us tried and true country folk. Have a great week all!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

You said it, George!!

Here is an article by the AP that I read this morning....awesome...

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Country Music Hall of Famer George Jones isn't a big fan of where the genre has moved in recent years.
When asked about what he thought about music by today's top country stars, the 78-year-old said while they are good, "they've stolen our identity."
Jones made the comment during a recent interview when asked about music by artists like Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift.
"They had to use something that was established already, and that's traditional country music. So what they need to do really, I think, is find their own title, because they're definitely not traditional country music," he said.
"It's good to know that we still do traditional country music. Alan Jackson still does it, so does George Strait. We still have it, and there's quite a few of us that are going to hope that it comes back one of these days."
Still, his contemporaries haven't always stuck to traditional country, either. Fellow Hall of Fame member Johnny Cash was met with critical acclaim a few years ago by covering the Nine Inch Nails song "Hurt." Asked whether he'd ever branch out to a completely different genre of music, like heavy metal or rap, Jones laughed and said: "Rap? That's tacky."
"How can you call that music?" he added. "Now, I love music, too. I love all kinds. I really do. I've got Brook Benton. I like his singing. Ray Charles. I've got an open mind. But now, you can't call rap, talking stuff like that, music. No, no, no, you've got to have another name for that."
Jones recently put out a new CD, through Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, called "A Collection of My Best Recollection." It includes some of his most requested songs from throughout his career, including classics like "White Lightning" and "I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair," as well as two previously unreleased ones.
"Only thing I would like to keep accomplishing is music for my fans and achieving some goals to keep them happy with what I record in the future," Jones said. "I've done just about everything else. The good Lord's been good to me ... I'm going to enjoy the rest of my life."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Linda Davis...

So I was minding my own, going through my mail and postings, friend requests, gig updates, blah blah...and while I was on MySpace, I saw that I had a new friend request from Linda Davis. For you that don't know who Linda Davis is, she has two (now) claims to fame. Her first claim is her duet with Reba back in 1993 called "Does He Love You" that topped the charts and was heard everywhere. She was Reba's background vocalist forever and when she did the duet with her, Linda became a solo artist and started recording songs for a label. Her second claim to fame is her daughter, Hillary Scott, is the female vocalist in Lady Antebellum, who is kicking booty now in the country music realm. Anyways, when I got the friend request from her, I was happy but then she sent a little message along with it saying that she read my bio and that she realized that I was from Shreveport (born there) and she was from Carthage, TX, which I figure is about 30 minutes away from Shreveport, taking the interstate. I knew that already because she used to sing at Johnny High's Opry in Arlington back in the day and they used that as part of their ploy to sell the place to young up-and-comers, but the cool thing about her message is that she actually took time to read my bio after hearing something she liked (hopefully...) That made my week and probably the rest of the year if nothing else exciting happens. But, that was very cool and I will take it. That is my Linda Davis story. Everyone have a great week!

Monday, October 5, 2009

sorry! Its been a while...

Its been busy so not much updating from me in a while....But, here I am with some brief news and a link ya'll should check out. First of all, I won my catagory on (happy to say) and came in 4th in the Music Finals. If your not familiar with, go check it out. Lots of great music and lots of chances to win some money! Woohoo! I was happy about both placements, especially the Finals in which its very difficult for a country song to make it into the Top 5. I get closer to the Grand Prize everytime I'm there. Next time...In other news, I was having a chat with one of the teachers that I teach with about the state of country music (well, music in general) and we were debating on whether or not music labels will be an internet venture in the years to come. Most albums being bought nowadays are through internet stores (itunes, vcast) so what's the purpose in having a record deal with distrubution to actual stores has become a thing of the past? Good thing for me, being an indie artist, because now I can just sell my stuff online, promote myself online, and do what I do and not worry about what people say. So there...

Before I close, I want to pass on a link to a great country music site called
They have honest reviews on singles, albums and artists of yesterday and today and is well worth a check-out. Well! That is it for now! Everyone have a great week and stay safe!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Playing DJ on Labor Day...

So this is kind of a late post but I had to talk about my experience playing jukebox DJ on Labor Day. I didn't have to teach at all on that day so I thought it would be fun to swing by a place called Levi and Hanks and play some free pool and hang. Well, they had a jukebox over in the corner playing crappy rock music and so I decided that I was going to put a couple of dollars in and play some old country songs just because I was in that kind of a mood. So I was playing people like Paycheck and Haggard and Hank and Waylon and playing pool. Well, everyone in the place liked what I was playing so much (and I think they were slightly suprised that someone my age would know half of these songs) that they all gave me money to keep on playing and pickin' country music. Even the bar gave me money to keep on because I had kept people in their seats for 3 hours! It came out to be about 40 dollars and kept me at the jukebox for 30 minutes rackin' my brain. I played pretty much played everyone that came on the scene between 1960-1990. Actually, it was kind of work for a little while but I had a blast and so did everyone else. We were singing and laughing and remembering Nashville when it was still about the music. Some of these folks had even been living in Nashvegas when Hank Sr. had a house off of Music Row. You see...people still love country and still wanna hear it. Even if its only at Levi and Hanks on Labor Day...

Monday, September 14, 2009

the aftershock of the VMA's...

No big news...was going to sing at the Blue Bar here in Nashvegas on Wednesday but have been sick for about a week now with some sort of throat/ear infection and until I decide to go to the doctor, I can't sing. Hurts...Speaking of performing, I have to say that all of you who are ranting on and on about the Kayne/Taylor incident at the VMA's are totally forgetting to mention the incredible Michael Jackson tribute that happened at the beginning of the show. Madonna's poetic memoriam made me forget to breathe for a few minutes and when the dancers did exact replicas of some of Jackson's famous videos, I was brought to tears. It took me back to when I was a kid, listening to "Beat it" and "Lucky Star", watching MTV in its infancy. They don't make 'em like they used to. At least I can say that I grew up in an era where you had to bring it or you were brought down. Too bad kids nowadays can't experience that. Only in a echo reverberating from the past. But, isn't that how someone like me knew of Elvis and the Beatles? As people, we can't live forever here on earth but at least our deeds can. Music or otherwise....

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day!!

After working my tail off for the past little bit and feeling like the Ringleader in a 3-ring circus, I am enjoying myself today by doing nothing. Well, I am writing this blog but other than that...Nothing!! I do have to report on how much fun I had at the 3rd and Lindsley show last week and how great it sounded. There was a point where I almost quit singing just to listen to the band behind me. The music was loud and the audience was really getting into it. Patting their legs, tapping their toes, playing air guitar... All good signs that you are really reaching the audience. No one was sleeping or even yawning. Also, last week, I played a place called the "Rusty Nail" in Hermitage, right down from Andrew Jackson's old stomping ground. The guy running sound also played bass for a girl named Sunny Sweeney, who happens to be from Texas and REALLY country. I talked with this fellow for a while and found out that he knows almost all the people I knew back in the Austin days. Small world. Made me miss home even more...Good to know though that home will be there when I am done here. For now, keep your eye on the prize and faith in the skies...There is a song in that somewhere...

Have a great holiday!


p.s. here is the poster for the show last week...Looks good, dontcha think?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I was happy. Earlier tonight. Played 3rd and Lindsley, one of the coolest, hippest places to sing in Nashville and rocked it! I was happy. Came home, put on my jammies, grabbed a cold one...A diet Dr. Pepper, that is... and opened my web browser to Perez to get my daily dose of celebrity gossip-rubish. There, right smack in between fuzz about Jon Gosslin and Octomom, was a pretty picture of Carrie Underwood with the headline reading "Carrie Underwood's new single, "Cowboy Casanova", hitting shelves on blah, blah, blah. Listen here first." Awesome. Gotta listen. She's good, I'll give her that. Nothing special but she keeps it country. So I pressed play. First 5 seconds. I thought that I was listening to the new single from Def Leppard. Or Shania Twain. Or whomever else Mutt Lange is or was producing. I did a double take at the name. Yup. Carrie Underwood. Crap...this stinks. Liten to another 5 seconds. Felt ears bleeding. Thought to myself while I was hemorrhaging massive amounts from my drums, "How long will it take for country radio to ban this &*%^?" Lucky for us, I sense it is right around the corner. Press Stop. Go back to first page. Take a drink of my soda. Lets see what Octomom is up to. I was happy again...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Price of Fame...

Oh how I love Madonna...Watching YouTube videos of her from the early days when she performed in and around New York City, wanting people to want to listen to her and buy her records. She had style, she had drive, she had moxy...whatever that means. The girl had the whole "package" and even though she was not a huge star at the time, she would perform her best for 10 people like there were 10,000. That's why I love her. When I finished watching her eye-catching performance at the Roxy circa 1982, I thought of another incredible performer who was the same age as Madonna and who has been in the publications very heavily lately. Michael Jackson. Michael had all the raw talent to be a superstar and expressed that ability at a very early age. From all reports, he grew up with a very demanding father who expected him to be perfect at each and every performance. Would Michael have been as big as he was without his father's abuse and thirst for fame? Eventually...maybe. I'm sure we would have heard about him later in his life instead of at 12 with his brothers singing "Who's loving you?" on Ed Sullivan. You see, in my eyes Madonna and Michael Jackson are in my top 5 of the best performers of the 20th century. And both of them had very hard and lonely childhoods. Madonna lost her mother at the age of 5 to cancer. Michael was abused, both physically and emotionally. They both wanted love and affection from some source to make up for what they were lacking at home. And here they are. They got what they wanted. Love, adoration, admiration...fame. Fame? In the scheme of live and love, where does fame come in? And does it fill that void? Why did Michael have to take pain killers to get through the day? Why did he self-medicate to breathe? As his death now has been ruled a homicide, I have to ask myself if he ever had that "void" filled before he died? Could millions of fans fill it? Could billions of dollars fill the emptiness that he had? When I decided that Nashville and all its hype was what I wanted, I didn't really get into it because I wanted to be famous. I just wanted to make a living off of my music and touch and reach others and maybe make a difference. Maybe that why I haven't quite reached that yet. I wasn't willing to risk all...including my life for money and super-stardom. Madonna was...and I hope that I don't see her next on the E! news channel wrapped up in some blanket, being carried off in a stretcher like Marilyn Monroe. Or like Anna-Nicole Smith. Or like Michael Jackson...I may not be rich or famous but how much do I have to pay out for the price of fame? Could I every afford it? And why would I ever want to...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

To sing or not to

When I was in my senior year at Belmont, one of my music business professors had invited Trisha Yearwood to come in and speak to the class and answer any questions we might have about the biz or her personal life, whatever. So I was super excited to think of a special question I could ask my favorite female singer and when I got the chance, I jumped in with it. "Trisha", I asked, "what is more important for a new singer in town to do? Sing on demo's (which when a songwriter who can't sing wants to give his music to a star, they have good singers sing the songs for them so that maybe the star will "cut" it), or is it more important to sing live?" Well, this was the perfect question for the perfect recipient. Everyone in town knew that before she was signed, Trisha was THE female demo singer to hire. Her main songwriter was Kent Blazy, who at the time was working with another unknown, Garth Brooks and together they wrote several hits, like "The Thunder Rolls". After her first record came out several years later and she began to tour, all the critics could not deny her voice but the biggest problem came with her stage performances. To put in bluntly, they called her the "Singing Stick". Not because she was super skinny but because she stood on the stage when she sang her songs...and didn't move. At all. Trisha had put all her attention and time into recording that she had denied singing around town much and unfortunatly, it had come to back to bite her with scathing reviews. So, I waited in anticipation as she pondered my question in her head and a few seconds later she replied, "Well...both are important. You want to sing on demo's to get your name and voice out to labels and publishers and also its great practice for the studio. But, on the other hand, you want to perform live because that prepares you to be a great performer and get somewhat of a following, which the business folks also pay attention to. You don't want to be known as the 'singing stick' at the beginning of your career." We all smiled and chuckled but we knew the truth of the matter before it was answered. You want to be great in the studio, yet be Madonna on stage (or whomever else you think is a great stage performer. Nowadays, everything matters and you have to be able to do it all. Sadly, its way harder now that when Mrs. Yearwood was signed. To be honest, she probably wouldn't stand a chance now and days, even though her voice is from the heavens. And oh, what a shame that would have been...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I found this article the other day and I thought that I would post it just because it is so true. Most of us know this but need to be reminded sometimes...

Stupid Things Artists Do To Mess Up Their Lives!
published by Carla DeSantis

As the founder of ROCKGRL Magazine, I’ve interviewed hundreds of artists and edited thousands of stories about artists. I’ve heard every variation of success and failure that exists, and I’ve been around the block a couple of times as a musician myself. I’ve seen the overnight successes and the slow burns. And even though the music industry is battered and broken, there is still great music out there that deserves to be heard.If you love making music, you’re in luck. Thanks to technology, home recording is more affordable and accessible than ever. Anyone can create a decent-sounding album at home. But selling that album and actually making a living as an artist has never been more problematic – not that it was ever a cakewalk. Reality television has fed us the delicious myth that anyone can be a star – and we’ve gobbled it down. Look at Susan Boyle. Then look at Susan Boyle’s make-over! Fact is, you have a better chance of being struck by lightning – multiple times – than you do of becoming the next multi-platinum-selling megasuperstar. The music industry as we knew it has gone the way of the stegosaurus and the cassette tape. It makes banking (another predatory industry) look stable in comparison.So how come we still have stars? Most of today’s best-known musical artists got famous through a television tie-in. Last week Demi Lovato was the only artist on the charts to sell more than 100,000 CDs. Unless you competed on American Idol, star on a Disney show or have a song playing in the background during a romantic moment on Grey’s Anatomy, your chances of hitting it big are slimmer than an Olsen twin. Here are a few eye-opening statistics, courtesy of the Nielsen Company:

105,575 albums were released in 2008.
79,000 albums were released in 2007.
Less than 1% of all releases (just 950 albums) sold more than 25,000 copies.
New release album sales fell 18% in 2008; these sales are now less than half the number of albums that sold in 2001.
50,000 digital-only albums accounted for less than 2% of all new release album sales.
Even though the demand for albums has plummeted, there were 26,575 more albums released in 2008 than 2007.

Those are very depressing odds but it’s what you are up against. So just because albums aren’t very popular and there are more albums available than ever, does that mean you shouldn’t at least try? Of course not. But I’m about to serve you a reality check cocktail to wash down with your big dream. To wit, here are some stupid career moves artists make, and tips on how to not make them yourself:

1. We Don’t Need No Education – Many musicians see the real life experience of playing and touring as a substitute for education. You may not need a PhD from an ivy league university to put rock star on your resume, but it is critical to know how the music business works if you want to retain control of your life and not make bad decisions. Suggestions:

2.Take a music course at a community college in business, songwriting or recording.

3.Spend some of your online time reading about industry trends.

4.Attend music business conferences, lectures and workshops in your area – many are free – or

5.Join the local Recording Academy chapter ( They have student rates.

6.Be a sponge and absorb everything about the business side of music that you possibly can.

7.Attending classes is also a great way to network and meet people who might become fans down the road.

8.Turn Off the Hype Machine – There is no greater turn-off than letting people know how important/talented/wonderful you are. If you are really all that, the music will speak for itself. People will find you and they will do the talking for you. Note that during the American Idol auditions it’s the people who come in with humility and sincerity – not the big talkers – who usually end up blowing the judges away.

9.Have a Contingency Plan – Don’t put all your eggs in the superstar basket. Do other things to make money while you are working on your music and find things to do that are equally as satisfying. Play music because you love it, because it’s fun and not because you visualize a profile on Cribs in your future. If you really crave validation and approval that much, get a pet.

10.The Friends and Family Plan – Everyone’s friends and family are there to offer unconditional support. But after the people who are obligated to support your efforts are tapped out, you need to start building a following. Do you have fans? Is your fan base growing with each gig or staying the same or declining?

11.Pay attention to what songs go over when you perform. They may not be the songs you prefer. Many artists are shocked when the throw-away song that barely made the album becomes the hit single. Keep an open mind.

12.Falling for Scams – This is the music business and there are lots of people out there promising superstardom for a price. Check credentials and do online searches to make sure that the people who want your money have a solid reputation and verifiable proof to back it up. Anyone who charges you to play a show or listen to your music is suspect. If it sounds fishy, it probably is fishy.

13.Watch Your Wallet – Musicians spend a fortune on unnecessary gear, thinking that this new guitar or this new pedal will suddenly make them Erica Clapton. Really, you don’t need all those toys – especially if it means you can’t pay your rent. Put yourself on a budget if you are a gear junkie. Which brings me to . . .

14.Living the High Life – I know drugs and alcohol seem cool and romantic and all that, but trust me, there’s nothing cool about ‘em. Yeah, we’ve all got demons. A good therapist is much healthier and cheaper than a habit and a rehab. Don’t do anything that makes you more stupid and vulnerable. If you don’t have your wits about you, it will be that much easier to fall prey to someone who does.

15.Play Well with Others – Don’t be a drama queen and avoid falling in with anyone who is. Deal with problems as they arise and don’t let them fester. Distractions are a huge waste of productive time and it is just as easy to be considerate as it is to be a great, big jerk that nobody can stand to be around. Band rule number one – no drama. No exceptions.

16.Be Authentic – Be yourself. Always. Not the next (fill in the blank) because there is already a (fill in the blank). There’s a big difference between being influenced by an artist and trying to copy them. The original is always better and everyone knows it. It is your true self, whatever that may be, that people relate to.

17.It Really Is All About The Music – There’s no doubt that image plays a big and unavoidable role in the music business. But at the end of the day it’s still about the music. Working on your image rather than your music is like working on your shoes and not your outfit. Image is just an accessory. Don’t get hung up on it. If you are truly being yourself, the rest will follow. Making a living as a musician is already tough enough. Don’t make it any harder.

Good luck out there.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


So after many years of using the same photos for publicity, album covers, myspace, ect., I decided to have some new pictures taken in my new form. I had dropped a little weight since last year and so the time had come to photograph myself and put the whole package together. New pics. Well, last week, I met up with these sweet girls, both of which were sisters, to have these pictures made. One took the photos, the other did the make-up. Well, I sat myself in the chair and proceded to have my makeup done. Now, what I was going for was a "1950's pin-up look" but just in terms of say, the red lips and the fake lashes. Needless to say, when it was all said and done, I looked like a corpse with red lips. And fake lashes. Or a geisha. A very white geisha. I got up, looked in the mirror and told myself," It is outdoors. Maybe she didn't want me to get washed out so she put more white on my skin to maybe counter-act the effects." Whatever. Well, taking the pictures wasn't bad. It was in the middle of a field and behind a barn and it was 100 degrees outside, but all in all, it wasn't too bad. I waited for the proofs. When I got them back, I was amused by the fact that I was right. The make-up was WAY TOO MUCH! I dunno...The pictures and poses were pretty. Some were saved...I will show you one of the ones that made it...

Not bad.... Could be worse....I'll think I'll keep it for least till tomorrow...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Day One...

You may sit in front of your television set after a long day at work, feeling like a mouse in a cage, trapped on an endless treadmill that gets you nowhere and you may think to yourself, "Hey! I want to watch some reality show about the ins and outs of life in Nashville. I want to watch a struggling model who is eternally 18 trying to obtain the golden ticket to become a country music star and behold, she gets a record deal after 2 weeks! That's what I want to watch!" You may be one of those people who likes a show like that. If you do, then you may not want to read this blog. Because this blog is about a girl (who is not a model nor 18) trying to make it as a singer/songwriter here in Music City that could care less about being famous and on the cover of magazines and shmoozing with the rich and beautiful. All she wants is to sing her own songs for a living. An honest and good living. That is what she wants and what she has always wanted and will never stop wanting that as long as she is living. So, with all that said, we begin...

My name is Jessie Key. I have been singing my whole life but have been singing country music since I was 14 around the Dallas/Ft. Worth area (where I am from). When I was 20, I moved to Nashville to lay my claim on the eyes and ears of the Nashville community. Little did I know, in 1997, that Nashville was starting to decline after the Big Boom of the "Garth effect" and people in the town were starting to panic. Like, selling their homes and recording equipment in yard-sale's type of panic. I was at Belmont University off of Music Row at the time and just waiting for the dust to blow over. So I waited....and waited....and waited. Come 2000, the dust had turned into a storm like the one seen over Oklahoma back in the Depression. People were blinded by the destruction of what was once and what was no more. Sad...So, to make a long story even longer, I moved to Austin, had a ball, played and sang, made a record and then made the stupid decision to give Nashville one more try. Moved back and here I am. The dust is still here but I feel that even though it sometimes is hard to breathe, you can always find solace in the church. Of course I mean the Ryman. And as long as they have not burned that down, I will not lose complete hope that country music can find a way back to where it was conceived. Besides, everyone comes home in the end...

So this is my diary, my blog. Every day is a step closer to the dream and I will be letting you in on all my trials and tribulations and hopefully it wont be too painful. This is the Day in the Life of Jessie...for real...