I don't think I've shared this part of my life in the blog before, but, in addition to my music going-ons, I teach singing and acting lessons! I have enough time to squeeze in all my students on Wednesdays, and they've taught me some big lessons over the years.
My students give me the best stories. One of my students asked me if I could sing the highest note on the piano. I told her I couldn't and didn't think anyone could. Then she asked me, "Can Obama sing that note?" I guess she's learned that Obama can do anything!
At first, I was very scholastic about what methods and techniques I was going to teach my students. But, as I started teaching more and more lessons, I realized that half of teaching is about the singing, and the other half is about being a psych counselor! I've learned that your mind has much more power than you think. You can teach a student all the methodical exercises you want, but if the student doesn't believe he or she can hit the high note- they can't! As soon as they stop over-thinking and worrying, the same note is very easy for them.
I remember, as a student, having doubts about whether or not I was good enough to hit the high notes, and always questioning if I was good enough in general. Now being the teacher, I wish I could go back and tell my student-self to not worry--because it was the worrying that was hindering me the whole time! So that's what I try to instill in my students. I try to overcome their disbelief with encouragement and self-confidence and let them know that the first step to singing better is thinking better. Once they believe they can do it, then we can get to the nitty-gritty technique part, and then the sky is the limit!
I think what I've learned from my students applies to everyday life as well. So many times it's our own over-thinking and worrying that stops us from doing things. We get it into our heads that we'll never be good enough, or we aren't trained enough, when we probably had the ability to achieve our goal the whole time! (Here's my self-help portion of the blog! :) So if I can give you any advice from my 20/20 hindsight, it's to stop letting your negative thoughts control your actions. Stop worrying and start working on your mental game. Gather the courage to believe you can do it, and then go after what you want with hard work and preparation. Life is full of obstacles- why let yourself be one of them?
Here at Beaver Dam USA, we are so excited to introduce you all to a band that, if you like country music, you've probably already seen before! Two Story Road is a husband-and-wife duo comprised of veteran performers, Brandon and Jamelle Fraley. Brandon has toured extensively, singing background vocals and/or playing keys for artists such as Gretchen Wilson, Danny Gokey, and Carrie Underwood. Jamelle has also toured extensively, her biggest gig being Carrie Underwood's background vocalist for five years. Between the two of them, they have appeared on every TV and Awards show imaginable, as well as performed over 1,000 shows (including 100 shows at the Grand Ole Opry!). It's no surprise that these two decided to join forces and bring their talents to the spotlight. For their debut album release, they are working with Nashville producer, Mark Bright. Mark Bright has made his mark on your radio waves by producing albums for superstars such as Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, and Sara Evans. With Two Story Road's considerable experience and the top-notch team surrounding them, there's no doubt that they will make a big impact in the Country music community.
We were fortunate to get to send over some questions to Brandon and Jamelle. Read their responses below:
1. First off-we love a good love story- how did you two meet? Was it love at first sight?!
We met at Belmont University. Love at first sight might sound a little cliche, but there was definitely an immediate attraction. Once we started dating, we both admitted to having an overwhelming sense of "wow" whenever we'd see each other. We knew after just a few weeks of dating that the connection we had with each other was unlike anything either one of us had felt before.
2. When you all got married, did you always want to be a duo? Or was it something that happened over time?
We both moved to Nashville aspiring to be solo artists, that's for sure. We always loved singing together, but I think the idea of being an actual duo is something that presented itself to us over time. We both agree that singing together is so much more fun than if we were solo artists. Also, being able to share the work load both on and off the stage is a huge perk that we're thoroughly enjoying. :-)
3. We've heard that you recently went into the studio and recorded your debut release with one of Nashville's greatest producers, Mark Bright! Tell us about the experience in the studio-was it magical?!
It's hard to put into words the excitement we've been having while recording with Mark. This is literally what we've dreamed about doing since moving to Nashville. You have to understand that after all of the touring and recording we've done for other people over the years, there's now this unbelievable feeling of accomplishment to be doing this AS THE ARTIST! For example, just the other day we were pulling up to Ocean Way Studio on Music Row to record some more vocals. Granted, we've both been there many times for other artists. However, when you're there as a band member, you're on your own to find parking. There are only 6 parking spots at Ocean Way and they're all assigned: Studio A Artist & Producer, Studio B Artist & Producer, and Studio C Artist & Producer. We noticed that one of the artist spots was open, and thought about pulling in. We can honestly say that we both hesitated for just a moment & asked ourselves, "you think we can park here & not get towed?" before realizing that we WERE the artist and were supposed to park there! We are beyond blessed to not only be recording with one of Nashville's greatest producers, but we're also able to call Mark one of our closest friends. He has been on board, 110%, since day one, and we will never be able to fully thank him for the confidence boost that has given us. We're so excited for all of our fans to hear this labor of love once it's finished. We are doing everything we can to make as much of an impact with this first project as possible and we're optimistic that it will do just that.
4. Who are your greatest musical influences?
Jamelle - I grew up listening to a bunch of different music, but there were definitely a few standouts that got a LOT more rotation than the others: Mariah Carey, Martina McBride, Celine Dion, & Whitney Houston. I mean, in my day if you loved to sing and wanted a challenging song to sing, that's who you listened to! :-)
Brandon - I listened to a wide range of musical genre's and was also drawn towards amazing singers. Brian McKnight and Vince Gill were huge influences and always a challenge to sing along with. I feel like I'm constantly borrowing from their vocal prowess whenever I sing a note.
5. Jamelle, we know you toured a while with Carrie Underwood. What was the greatest thing you learned from this Superstar? And same question for you, Brandon, about touring with Gretchen Wilson?
Jamelle - The only thing better than being able to sing with her night after night, was having a front row seat to watch Carrie off stage. Let me tell you what, this girl is a hard worker! Her work ethic is just as impressive as her singing voice. It was such an amazing opportunity to see first hand what it takes to maintain the kind of career she's having. I feel so much more well prepared for my journey as TSR knowing what I learned from Carrie all those years.
Brandon - One thing that Gretchen did that had a profound impact on me was the attention she gave to her entire crew. Band, lighting, audio, truck drivers, etc... She knew everyone's name out there and said hello to everyone who walked by. Gretchen worked so hard to making everyone feel appreciated. The few times I've toured with Carrie, I've seen how close everyone is on that tour as well. Think about this, when Jamelle left Carrie's band to do TSR, she had been with her for 5 years and she was still the "newest" band member. It's simple. When people feel valued, they'll most likely stick around.
6. When you're not recording or touring, what are some things you both like to do for fun?
Well, we do our best to stay in shape, and luckily we've found ways of exercising that don't feel like exercise. Brandon plays tennis, very competitively I might add, at least 3 times a week & I (Jamelle) go to a hip-hop dance class 3-4 times a week as well. Unfortunately, downtime is becoming harder & harder to find, so we jump at the chance to hang out with our friends whenever we can. We're actually having a few close friends over tonight to watch a movie and maybe even have a Mario Kart tournament! :-)
7. What is your favorite movie of all time?
Brandon - I love all the X-Men movies. Jamelle will most likely say "me too!" but since I'm the one who introduced her to them, it gets to be my answer.
Jamelle - Brandon knows that if we're channel surfing and "A League Of Their Own," "Dirty Dancing," "The Princess Bride," or "That Thing You Do" is on, no matter where it's at in the movie, we're watching it.
8. What was the last song played on your iTunes or Spotify?
Brandon - I finished my drive home from tennis last night with Sara Bareilles' "Gravity."
Jamelle - Alison Krauss, "Maybe." Remember that song? It's so cool!
9. As veteran performers, is there any advice you would give to young aspiring artists who are trying to follow in your footsteps?
This may not really be about performing, but here's some general advice for any job in the music industry. Most likely, you have a vision in your head of where you are and where you want to be. You can try your best to assume the path of how you'll get from point A to point B. However, be open to the fact that there's a good chance that you'll get to point B by a road you never saw coming and maybe, never knew existed. We all know that the interstate is the fastest way to travel from one state to the next. However, there are infinite back roads that will take longer, but can do the same thing. Take it from us, don't discount the back roads. They'll give you the time you'll need to learn about yourself. It's also where you'll gain so much experience. In the end, it will make the journey so much more rewarding and when you finally reach the finish line, you'll be that much more prepared.
Get updates on Two Story Road's album release and tour by following them on Facebook, Twitter, and by visiting their official website.
While you eagerly anticipate the debut album, check out Two Story Road's latest lyric video of their song, "Fit In."
Well, I have an update to my house hunting saga...and that is- Billy and I have found a place to live! We decided to live in the house he currently lives in--which has been occupied by 4 guys. They'll all be moving out by the time I get there in May, but that doesn't mean they haven't left their mark on my future home.
Let me give you a tour of the house: As you walk through the front door, you enter into the living room. You look over to the left at the glass coffee table that hasn't been wiped down in about 6 months and find it adorned with tobasco sauce and beer bottles. You glance at the hardwood floors that have never, to my knowledge, been cleaned in 2 years, and find it texturized with dog hair from a boxer. (This dog has the shortest hair imaginable--how does that thing even shed?!) As you walk past the living room into the kitchen, you find the art-deco whiskey bottles from 2 years of whiskey drinking on every counter in the room. These cannot be thrown away because men must prove that they drink whiskey regularly. Then, you pass the kitchen, go down the hall, and enter into the bathroom. It is simply decorated with beard trimmings that have been haphazardly brushed off the sink. The toilet paper is sitting on the top of the toilet, because putting it on the roll would be too sophisticated for the bachelor vibe of the house.
Then, walk back down the hallway, through the kitchen, and down the stairs to, what will become, the music room. Right now, there is a couch that has 6 hiking bags on it, a bag of formal wear that one of the roommates has been missing for about a year, wood pallates that have been left there to rot by another roommate, and a drum set, where Billy plays drums. Go back up the stairs, through the kitchen, to the back patio. The glass door to the patio is streaked 6 feet high with mud from the dog, who tries to claw her way back in the house when she feels her time outside is done. As you walk outside onto the patio, you feel the cool breeze of wind through the torn porch screen. You look out at the sunset as the sun rays beam down on the mud pathway the dog has created as her own personal racetrack. You stand there and take it all in...this could be yours one day.
I know this house has a lot of potential, but it's been hard to look at it through the lens of my future home. I can't help but walk around and look at the whiskey bottles and think- when will these go away? Or point out all the moldy food in the refrigerator and ask Billy when his roommates will clean it out. I know it's not my home yet, and I still have two months, but I can only hope that when I move in, it'll be like brand new.
If you want a real tour of my future home, I actually filmed my music video there last July! (I made them edit out all the nasty stuff!) Enjoy!
I'm in the mood to share new music, so here it is!! If you recall last fall, in the blog, I talked about taking myself on a writer's retreat to write new music. I needed some new things to write about (I had break-up covered), so I sat down and thought about what experiences had hurt me the most. I started thinking about a friendship I had with a girl who I thought was my best friend. She acted like we were so close, but then it turned out that she was always using me to get to someone else-- whether it was to get to her ex, who was a friend of mine, or even someone I had a crush on! One time I told her I had a crush on a guy and brought her to a party with me, and then found out she had made-out with my crush in the bathroom that night! (making out in the bathroom sounds gross). She even lied to me about it when I confronted her. And that was just one of many instances, so overall, it was a toxic friendship that I got nothing positive out of. So, after confronting her about the things that hurt me and seeing no change, I decided it was best to cut her out of my life. It was freeing to finally be away from such a bad friend, and led me to the sentiment of strength in this song. I wanted to make the song universal, so I wrote it from the view of someone getting out of a toxic dating relationship--but you all know the real truth behind the song!
These are the lyrics:
Immune To You
V1. You're poisen, you're toxic
And you don't even know it
You spread your disease
To anyone you please
V2. Your lies were vemon,
And I was your victim
But now you can't plague me
Because I'm stronger than I used to be
C. Baby I'm immune to you
You can't bring me down
'Cause baby I'm on to you
You can't wound me now
You hurt me once, shame on me
You hurt me twice, you're history
Baby, I'm immune to you
V3. So keep your infection,
You won't get my attention
'Cause I've learned my lesson
And I'm gonna make sure you can't touch anyone
My friend Charlie helped me make the demo of this song-we recorded it in my house, using my own room as the vocal booth! A demo is a recording of the song, but not the final version. A lot of songwriters record demos of their songs to pitch to artists, and then the artists record the final version of the song. If this song gets put on my EP, I will record a new version, but in the meantime, enjoy this demo!
P.S. There's a sick piano solo by my friend Bill you won't wanna miss!
Sometimes I think I'm crazy. But sometimes, I think I know exactly what I'm doing.