June 01, 2004



Gretchen Wilson

Born in rural Bond County, Illinois to a teenage mother and a father who didn’t stick around too long, Gretchen Wilson started life in survival mode. She had to take care of her younger brother at age 10. At age 14, she was cooking and tending bar alongside her mom. The very next year, she was managing the roughneck joint with a loaded 12-gauge double-barrel shotgun stashed behind the bar for protection. Through all her early years, she also developed a talent for singing and falling in love with the music of Tanya Tucker, Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline.

Before long, listening to CDs and pouring drinks for customers became a thing of the past. Gretchen started fronting a cover band and dreamed of moving to Nashville. A few years later, she did just that. Now, with a young daughter to care for, Wilson was still belting out tunes in bars. But her life changed considerably the night that songwriter/artists Big Kenny and John Rich walked into the bar. They heard her sing a couple of songs and Rich approached her and asked her why she didn’t have a record deal yet.

The meeting turned into a very fruitful friendship as Rich introduced Gretchen to his circle of friends. She began singing on demo tapes for other artists. She learned how the Nashville songwriting community really worked. And eventually joined the Muzik Mafia, a loose-knit group of singers, songwriters and musicians who get together to jam every week at a local Nashville nightspot. It was in front of her peers that she honed her songwriting talent.

Eventually signing with Sony Nashville, and with upwards of 80 written and co-written tunes under her belt, Wilson was primed for the spotlight. When her debut album, Here For the Party, was released earlier this year, nobody could have predicted the impact it would make. The album’s first single, "Redneck Woman," a personal and proud anthem inspired by a life of hard living that celebrates Wilson’s individual spirit, shot up the charts like a bullet. At press time, after twelve weeks on the charts, it is #1. It also marks the fastest climb to the #1artist's debut single since "Achy Breaky Heart" did so in nine weeks (May 30, 1992). That makes "Redneck Woman" the fastest climb to #1 in a decade! She might have named her album Here for the Party, but a more apt title might have been Here for the Long Haul.

Diana Krall (SOCAN)

Over the last 5 years, Diana Krall has made a crossover into mainstream consciousness unlike any pure jazz artist in recent memory. The Canadian singer/pianist's 1999 album When I Look In Your Eyes was a smash hit in both the jazz and pop worlds, earning an Album of the Year nomination at the Grammys and staying atop Billboard's jazz chart for 52 weeks as well as garnering many other awards and sales records internationally. Her latest release, The Girl In The Other Room, is yet another milestone achievement for Krall. This album showcases Krall's first efforts as a songwriter as she had previously only recorded jazz standards. Krall co-wrote six of the album's twelve songs with her husband, Elvis Costello. These tracks, for which Krall composed all of the music, touch on issues of family, grief, darkness as well as new love and hope. The remainder of The Girl In The Other Room features stunning versions of songs by such greats as Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt, Chris Smither and Costello, all played in Krall's unique style and delivery.



Trent Willmon

Determination, tenacity and talent landed Trent Willmon a recording contract with Sony Music Nashville. The Amarillo, Texas native's interests involved roping, riding, and studying agriculture, but music quickly became his focus when his mother bought him a guitar at age 16. Trent immersed himself in the West Texas music scene at the end of high school. In college, he learned to play upright bass and toured the South with a bluegrass band. After this, Trent moved to Nashville to pursue a career in songwriting. He was the first writer to sign to the staff of Sea Gayle Music, an EMI co-publishing company started by Brad Paisley, Chris DuBois and Frank Rogers. Willmon is working on his debut album with Rogers as producer. The release varies from the charm of his first single entitled "Beer Man" to the pain of the autobiographical "Home Sweet Holiday Inn." The album will be out on Columbia Nashville later in 2004.

– Jon Bahr

Cofféy Anderson

Cofféy has a name that few forget and the voice to match. The singer/songwriter, native of Texas, is creating a monsoon of believers in his many talents. If he looks familiar, it is because he was a contestant on American Idol 2 and may be remembered for the coverage of his daugher's birth on a major television network. "I learned so much from AI2," he says. "It adjusted my focus and taught me about the business of music."

Arriving in Los Angeles in 2003, he hit the ground running. He became an ASCAP member and then pursued his dream. After his performance on American Idol, he started getting phone calls from as far away as Georgia and meetings were requested from all directions.

Cofféy has since met with many artists, producers and label heads. His willingness to sing on the spot and do what it takes to make sure that top artists hear him, not to mention his sweet spirit, proves that he is headed in the right direction. A five and a half octave voice doesn't hurt at all.

In college, he stayed away from parties and started playing guitar. He also plays drums, piano, bass and harmonica. His versatility on so many insruments has helped him in his writing. His songs are universal and touch on subjects that go beyond color, race and age. "I write for the human being," he says.


The Jenkins

The Jenkins

The Jenkins, a family trio, are an exceptional band. Consisting of a mother, Nancy, and her two teenage daughters, Brodie and Kacie, The Jenkins recently released their self-titled debut on Capitol Records Nashville, produced by ASCAP member Rodney Crowell. The album serves as a musical diary for the family. "We bring the Jenkins family household with us wherever we go with our music," says Brodie. "You can call our songs conversations put to music because they are. When we're singing them, it's everything we've lived through," adds Kacie. The music is a blend of very pure, traditional harmonies of Kentucky bluegrass with contemporary sounds and themes, mixed to create utterly unique music filled with their stories. The Jenkins penned seven of the ten tracks on their debut, each with ultra-personal lyrics. These intimate lyrics are delivered by their distinctive voices. Brodie's voice is buttery and fluid and Kacie's is powerful and sexy while Nancy's is low and vibrant in tone. The Jenkins' warm personalities and music, which shine brightly in their songs, make for an exciting start to their collective career.

– Jon Bahr


Born in the Bronx and raised on a farm in the Catskills , Keith William Volpone, now known as Seven Willams, emerged as a recording artist with his group, Seven and the Sun, on Atlantic Records in 2002.

Seven and his band toured the country extensively, releasing their debut album, Back to the Innocence, and "Walk With Me" as their first single, and reaching the Top 20 CHR and the Top 30 Adult Contemporary Charts in that same year. With his partners, Bill and Walter Brandt, he was offered a production deal for their company, We3Kings.

After moving their operation to Los Angeles to be closer to the Film and TV industry, We3Kings started their reign as top players in the field. They have since written the theme songs to NBC's The John Walsh Show, Fox's Tru Calling and The Simple Life (both seasons) and ABC's The Two-Timer. They have also written cues and promos for several TV shows including NBC's Las Vegas, Starting Over, Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight. Their major motion picture credits include America's Sweethearts, Summer Catch and the soon to be released Columbia Pictures feature The Quest.

After writing, producing and developing the rock group, Full Blown Rose, Seven and W3Kings negotiated with media giant Fox to collaborate with Grammy-winning director Meiert Avis (U2, Beyoncé Knowles, Alanis Morrisette, Outkast) in launching an uninterrupted, unprecedented world premiere video for the band on Fox during prime time. The band is now being courted by Columbia, Warner Bros. and Virgin. It is just this mix of talent, business savvy and creativity that has helped Seven become one of the top writer/producer/entrepreneurs in the music business.


The Jet City Fix

The Jet City Fix

"Have a good time, all the time." Those words may have been immortalized by Spinal Tap keyboardist Viv Savage but they embody the underlying philosophy of The Jet City Fix. In early 2002, the future members of TJCF individually reached one conclusion: they weren’t having a good time in their current situations. Faced with the opportunity to start something from scratch, drummer Dana Sims decided he wanted to start a high-energy rock and roll band and he wanted to make sure he did it with people he wanted to hang out with.

A call to a longtime friend yielded Justin’s number -- which got Dana more than he’d bargained for since Justin and brother Ty had decided they wanted to play together. The three musicians clicked instantly. In fact, the first several TJCF songs were written as the result of the initial jam sessions.

John Wokas responded to an ad placed by the fledgling band. Only one problem -- he was still living in New Orleans. "He said he was moving in a month, but we went, ‘Yeah, right -- give us a call when you move out here,’" says Dana.

As fate would have it, none of the other guitarists the band talked to worked out. As promised, Wokas called the minute he got back to Seattle. "The four of us hung out at the Queens of the Stone Age show the night he got into town and it was great," explains Dana. "Then we got together to play and halfway through the first song, we knew he was in."

With the band itself firmly in place, the only missing piece was a singer. Dana groans. "We had every sort of horrific nightmare audition possible," he laughs. "We’re talking fodder for at least three Spinal Tap-type comedies!"

Throughout the ordeal, the band kept hearing about a mythical "kid in Tacoma." "This went on for about three weeks," says Dana. "Everyone knew who he was but no one knew his name or number. Then finally a friend of Justin’s who works at a coffee stand figured it out and got us in touch -- except that when we called his number, we found out that he’d moved back up to his parents’ two days before."

Undeterred, they continued to track down the mysterious singer. They finally made contact with Shane, who promptly hitched a ride back down to Seattle with a friend. The band sent him back with a tape of their songs. The rest, as they say, is history. "He came back a week later and blew us away," Dana still marvels.

With a dream line-up firmly in place, things moved quickly. Less than two months after Shane joined, the band played its first show. Their debut album, Play to Kill, was finished only a couple months later.

In just over a year, the band has played over 200 shows -- including high profile slots opening for Motorhead, Zen Guerilla, Black Halos, the Makers, Link Wray, Authority Zero, Local H, The Dwarves, Josh Todd, Dynamite Boy and Dr. Know -- under its belt.

Mixing glam, punk, pop and hard rock into their own infectious sound, The Jet City Fix are making great music and having a great time doing it. The band has just finished recording a new album with producer Jack Endino (Nirvana, Soundgarden, L7, Sonic Youth), which should be released this year.