Knoxville’s own Kelsea Ballerini debut single: Love Me Like You Mean It

Kelsea Ballerini passion for music started at a young age, as her father is a country radio programmer so she was constantly being influenced. At age 12, she wrote her first song for her mother, which was the beginning of a long journey ahead. She then moved to Nashville, Tennessee, country music capital of the south, and pursued her musical career from there. A mere two years ago, Kelsea signed a deal with Black River Entertainment and came out with her debut single, “Love Me Like You Mean It.”

KelseaBallerini_395PhotoCredit_Jeremy-RyanAbove: Kelsea Ballerini posing for her album The First Time earlier this year.

On July 4, 2015, “Love Me Like You Mean It” topped the Billboard Country Airplay, making her the 11th woman in history to have a #1 hit and the first since 2006! When asked about her recent hit, Kelsea said, “It’s just a fun, happy, kind of sassy, quirky, song from a confident girl saying, ‘If you’re gonna do this, do it right.'”

Kelsea has been dreaming of a day when everything she envisioned for her future would come true, and it finally has. When she first started writing music, she did it to express her feelings, not meant to be shared with anyone. For her 15th birthday, she got the opportunity to record in a real studio– and the representatives from the studio told her that her dream could easily become a reality. Kelsea said, “Dreams do come true. I’m seeing it first hand. While I do want to do it all, the arena tours and award shows, most of all, I just want to put out good music that matters.”

Sam Smith can sing again!

English singer/songwriter Sam Smith is back in action after undergoing surgery on his vocal chords this May. The 23-year-old was banned from speaking and singing post surgery to ensure that he recovered with no defects. He was just given the go-ahead from his doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital, and can’t wait to get back on the road to see all of his fans!

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Above: Smith giving his acceptance speech via videochat for Best Male Artist award while recovering from throat surgery.

“So just want to keep everyone in the loop; I have been in Boston the last few days to have a check up on my throat, before I embark on my American tour. MY THROAT IS LOOKING BLOODY FANTASTIC,” Smith wrote on Instagram. “So it’s amazing news. So happy. It’s going to be a really tough month of shows but I can’t wait to see you all, and pray it’s going to be a smooth ride. LET’S GO.”

In light of Sam’s vocal chord haemorrhage, he had to cancel 21 shows on his Lonely Hour Tour throughout Australia, Japan, the Philippines, Sweden, England, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Finland, Belgium and Monaco.

While Sam has been recovering, he has been modeling for Balenciaga, posting numerous mysterious Instagrams featuring black combat boots, black jeans, and more black. Not such a bad way to recoup as he can’t enjoy his favorite past time! Creative director Alexander Wang said, “Sam Smith conveys a quiet elegance and a subtle sensuality that are perfect for Balenciaga. He represents both sensitivity and power — the dualities of the Balenciaga man.”

Sam’s In the Lonely Hour Tour is scheduled to recommence in Louisville, Kentucky on Friday July 17 as Forecastle Festival’s headliner. Fans are anxiously awaiting to see if his chords hit pre-surgey heights!

Chris Brown’s home invaded by robbers

Early this morning, Chris Brown’s home in San Fernando was broken in to– for the second time in two months. Three men invaded the home around 2 a.m. on Wednesday night, seemingly avoiding the 16-camera security system. The last time this occurred no one was home at the time of invasion, but this time the Browns were not so lucky. Robbers held his aunt at gunpoint and then forced her into a closet while they raided the house. Eventually the aggressors fled after stealing valuables such as money and electronics, leaving Chris’s aunt to alert the cops.

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Above: Chris Brown conversing with the cops shortly after he got home around 4 a.m.

According to Chris’s mother, the robbery was an inside job done by one of his “homies.” After the home invasion, she tweeted, “Watch who you standing beside.” His mother believes that the men that Chris calls friends are moochers, living off of Chris’s success.

I believe that the question of foul play is a definite possibility, as Chris has only lived in his home for a very short period and the intruders somehow knew how to get around his security system. Since the home was recently built, it is not completely finished, so investigators are unsure that they have footage to examine the men. Hopefully Chris will get to the bottom of this before it becomes a routine!

#Action1D: A New Direction for One Direction

Yesterday, One Direction released a new video announcing their new campaign, #Action1D, which encourages their fans to let them know what kind of causes are important to them, and what charities should get extra attention. Action1D will consist of a collective group of organizations around the world that focus on change in poverty, climate change, and inequality around the world.

*HANDOUT* July 8th 2015: One Direction launch their global campaign action/1D highlighting 2015 as a year when the world can set the agenda to end extreme poverty and tackle inequality and climate change.  The campaign aims at putting pressure on world leaders at two crucial world summits in New York in September and Paris in Dec, to commit to a better future for everyone. Action/1D will give young people across the world the chance to add their voices to global conversations about the future of people and planet in order to achieve the best possible development and climate frameworks. Fans are asked to describe the kind of world they want to live in by sharing powerful pieces of creative content, including film and photos using the #action1D hashtag. In early September, the pieces of content gathered as part of the action/1D campaign will be revealed at a global premiere ahead of the unveiling of the final sustainable development framework at the UN in New York. One Direction said: âTime and again our fans have shown how creative and powerful they can be when they unite and thatâs why we want to all join together to speak out and hopefully make a real and lasting change to the world around us. âYoung people really do have the power to help end poverty, tackle inequality and to stop dangerous climate change. Now is the time for us to unite, take action and raise our voices to show that we care about the future of our planet.â

Above: July 8th 2015: One Direction launch their global campaign action/1D.

“In 2015 we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change the world for the better. The decisions they make could mean no baby dies from a disease that could have been treated or prevented, every child gets the chance to go to school, that no one has to go hungry again, and we do more to tackle the dangers of climate change,” 1D writes on their official page.

I think that this is a great initiative for the band, as we know that One Direction has one of the most dedicated fan bases known to man. If the fans rally together for a common cause and pour their energy into it, they will surely achieve great things. The discussion also ties in to two world summits that will take place in New York and Paris with world leaders, who can make a difference. Bono, Ben Affleck and more are also calling out for people to raise awareness.

The band seems very excited about their proposal as they said, “Young people really do have the power to help end poverty, tackle inequality and to stop dangerous climate change. Now is the time for us to unite, take action and raise our voices to show that we care about the future of our planet.”

One Direction is moving in an eager and enthusiastic new direction, and I am excited to see the work that they accomplish with the help of their amazing fans!

The End of an Era: Fare Thee Well, Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead has led an impressive and incredible musical journey since their reign began back in 1965. Fifty years later, their days of performing unique improvisational music came to an end. The band reconvened one last time (with the addition of Phish’s lead singer Trey Anastasio) to celebrate not only the band’s legacy, but the community that has formed around the Grateful Dead, who lived and died by their music.

635717706414106659-AP-Grateful-Dead-Fare-Thee-Well---Chicago-Day-4---ShowAbove: The Grateful Dead welcome the fans to kick off of their July 4th weekend.

Trey Anastasio perfectly summed up the Grateful Dead’s musical legacy when he said, “Jerry Garcia was a great American master and the Grateful Dead are not just a genuine piece of musical history, but also an important part of American history. This is a band, born right at the beginning of electric rock, that took the American tradition and moved it forward. They really embodied the American concept of freedom, rolling around the country with a ginormous gang of people and the mindset that ‘you can come if you want, you can leave if you want. We don’t know what’s going to happen. All we know is we’re not looking back.’ What could be more American?

Tickets to see their weekend long show sold out in under 5 seconds, and were selling for over 1k online. Over 220 fake tickets were seized over the weekend, but many still got their “miracle ticket” thanks to an amazing event staff. The band played on Sunday night at Chicago’s Soldier Field as part of their “Thee Well, A Tribute To The Grateful Dead” tour, and the stadium said 71,000 tickets were sold for the show, the Associated Press reports—more than any other event held at the stadium. The entire city of Chicago was a buzz with excitement of the 3-day show, even creating a Snapchat filter and Grateful Dead pizza boxes. Farewell Thee was celebrated all over the world; while the Dead were jamming in Chicago, the Empire State building was celebrating the Dead and America in NYC by synchronizing to the Dead’s performance of “U.S. Blues”.

The Grateful Dead has been a part of my life since before I even knew what music was, as my nickname is “love child” around my house. I was blessed with a free-spirit family who knows good music, and who taught me the same. Although I did not have the opportunity to see the Grateful Dead, I celebrated the end of their era from right here in Knoxville, Tennessee. Although their days of performing are over, their music will live on forever.

The performance ended with a memorable and endearing close. “The feeling we have here — remember it, take it home and do some good with it,” Mr. Hart said in closing. “I’ll leave you with this: Please, be kind.”

“Sometimes you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.”
-The Grateful Dead-

5 Ways to Expand Your Musical Horizons

If your music collection is beginning to sound stale and repetitive and the latest hits don’t strike a chord with you, it is probably time to expand your horizons. Whether you are a music devotee or an avid rock n’ roll fan looking to branch out into another genre, exploring different genres and musical perspectives can give you an opportunity to add new music to your collection and gain knowledge about the music that you already enjoy. Here are some ways to change-up your daily tunes.

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Father’s Day Playlist: the perfect way to celebrate Dad!

Although you may not think that you and your dad have the same taste in music, you could be surprised at the similarities once you start digging. There is much sentiment in creating something original and heartfelt for Father’s day, which is why making a playlist filled with dad’s favorite tunes (and a couple of yours) is an awesome gift idea!  If you don’t already know a couple of your dad’s favorite songs, ask your mom, aunt, grandparents and family friends what their top tracks were back in the day. Once you have a couple of songs you know he’ll like, you can use a song-finding website like Tastekid.com to help you elaborate.

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Above: A father and son are enjoying a concert together.

By creating this playlist, you may find that you really enjoy your old man’s music choices and find a connection that you did not once have. My dad introduced me to good music at a young age, which we have bonded over since my 9th birthday, when he took me to my first Rolling Stones concert. This year for Father’s Day, my family decided to surprise him by getting tickets to go to the Rolling Stones, once more all together! It is now one of my favorite memories that I was so fortunate share with my parents, brother and sister. My dad and I don’t enjoy many of the same recreational activities; on Saturdays he enjoys reading the paper and doing Sudoku, while I enjoy going to the pool or watching The Bachelorette – but we have always been able to bond through the love of the same music choice.

There is no gift like a gift from the heart that takes time, effort, and consideration and goes above and beyond what a store-bought gift would give. If you are planning on getting your dad a MP3 player or iPod, you could download the playlist before giving it to him as a special surprise! If you do decide to make a Father’s Day Playlist, your dad will be able to listen to it at any given time and reminisce about the wonderful gift he received from you. Material things come and go, but any father would treasure the memories created forever.