Creativity is a good thing, guys and gals. I believe it is an extension of our core values. Admittedly, I am here to hopefully, make fans, but I cannot support music with lyrics that are questionable to my own core values. This is NOT to imply that I am perfect, nor that I dislike any other artist(s). But I will not Fan nor Recommend artists/songs which go against my own heart..., ie cursing, degrading women, Christianity, ect. At the risk of losing a Fan, I really MUST have my own self-respect.
See it Here! http://www.reverbnation.com/main/bes_chart?genre=Country&genre_geo=Hot&page=2
The Captivating Sounds of Kathe Knight ~ (Sarah M. Wright)
Looking for a voice and album full of harmony and profound and entertaining lyrics? Take a listen to Kathe Knight’s album and I think you will find it a winner on all fronts. Kathe Knight’s album released in April, “Peaceful Easy Feeling” leaves listeners with just that: a peaceful, easy feeling. And don’t take that as an announcement that the album is laden with common rhythms and monotonous melodies that mind numb and verge on boredom. No, the peaceful easy feeling derives from the diversity of the songs that can get the most stoic listener finger tapping a tabletop to the beat or humming along to a song that explores a painful heartbreak or an epiphany of self-discovery. The content matter from song to song is as diverse as the sounds that explode from the album. Kathe is a little bit Reba, a smidge Donna Fargo, and a strong commanding dose of Wynonna, but most of all Kathe Knight is Kathe Knight and a name that music lovers should add to their library. She is firmly planted in mine with Josh Groban, Journey, and Kanye West before and kd lang, Kathy Mattea, and Katy Perry after. Obviously, her album has something to offer all listeners.
The album begins with hand clapping or boot tapping music and a voice so fluid that one word rolls flawlessly into the other and the smile on Kathe’s face as she sings is visible to the mind’s eye. Two and a half minutes into “One Way or Another” listeners believe that she’s “gonna getcha.” Certainly from that point forward listeners will have a smile on their face waiting for the next song, clearly “gotten” by Kathe’s melodic voice and personality that drips through the songs.
Perhaps the expectation would be for the next song on the album to take the same route as the previous, toe tapping, smirking smile song, but Kathe slows down and the sincerity from the first words in “I Will” grasp the attention and mandate a listen like one that is required of a friend in need. “I Will” explores one of society’s greatest issues: searching for happiness in a place that is only temporary and will eventually result in even greater unhappiness and then one of life’s greatest dispensed consequences, guilt. The pain is plentiful and it pounds with each word, but the promise of redemption shoves listeners forward waiting for a masterful story to be told with soothing sounds.
And she delivers with a sound in “Outta My Heart” that initially made this non-dancing listener want to grab a tall, ten-gallon hat sporting man and dance a Texas two-step, that’s assuming I would know how to do such a thing. In this song, Kathe also flexes her songwriting muscles as she is a co-writer. As representative of life, an epiphany of love ending due to irreconcilable differences likely reminds listeners of love lost and probably for the best in “It’s All The Same.” The most notable few lines of them all are found in the chorus, “We got it off the ground, but the damn thing just won’t fly. It’s best for us both if we just let sleeping dogs lie. It’s all the same to you; it’s the same old thing to me.
“Hell Must’ve Frozen Over” is the cliché song. It begins with one in the title and then supports it with a few more clichés. And it even has one phrase that isn’t a cliché, but has all the makings of one, “I guess the Devil’s wearing skates.” Ask my English students if I am a fan of clichés and there isn’t one who will say yes, but this song is an intentional cliché minefield. It is laced with sarcasm, wit, and honesty and impressively written by Kathe. Feel free to ask any of my students if I am fans of those and the answer will be a unanimous affirmative. (Part Two Continued In Next Blog Entry)
On the heels of a break-up in “Hell Must’ve Frozen Over” is the solace of “Picking Up Pieces.” Literally and figuratively Kathe soulfully journeys through heartbreak of a character picking up pieces of a life shattered in two that had been one. There is the dividing of the pieces that had been whole and the collecting of the pieces of herself to move forward. The pain pours through the lyrics and notes. In the end, the feeling is that she is resolute and will move forward, but listeners are likely sympathetic to the long road ahead.
The previous two songs, one laced with sarcasm about a break-up and the other gut-wrenching and full of changes prepare for another anthem of a similar scenario, but that isn’t the case. “The Radio Man,” also written by Kathe begins with powerful guitar chords preparing me for a Southern Rock (with a little touch of blues too), head bopping tribute to her southern roots and to the dependence she and all artists have on the radio man.
Bluesy sounds permeate the final song on the album. “Zip It Up” allows Kathe to exploit her range and her powerful, reverberating voice, and bending notes when requisite. Kathe has written and performs a call of action for women: take a little action to invoke appropriate behavior for the men in the lives of women. And it’s fun enough for men to safely be vested listeners and fans.
Kathe has a concoction of covers that complement the original songs uncompromisingly. Her execution and country twang transform Air Supply’s ‘80’s ballad, “All Out of Love” into a song that sounds like an original and one she was made to sing. She also slows the arrangement of “Afternoon Delight,” the ‘70s song performed by Starland Vocal Band that borders on double-entendre and through her remarkable voice and implementation of the arrangement owns it as much as her originals. The 1980’s hit for the Georgia Satellites, “Keep Your Hands to Yourself,” is the perfect melding of Southern rock and country. As an Eagles’ fan, her performance of the title song, “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” is awe-inspiring. The desert air and brown skin manifest through her, promising a delightful vision in the mind’s eye and consolation for anything that ails through her therapeutic voice.
After listening to the album there may be a feeling of familiarity. It will be a legitimate feeling as Kathe has paid her dues singing for commercials and performing as an opening act for many country artists. This album proves it is Kathe Knight’s time as a solo artist to take center stage and be the headliner. Give her a listen and there will be something within her voice that resonates for virtually all listeners no matter their musical preference: country, Southern rock, blues or folk. Be prepared, there will be one time in the course of listening to the album that the “peaceful, easy feeling” will flee and that’s when it becomes apparent there are only twelve songs on the album. Join me in listening to this album as we anxiously await the release of her next.
Sarah M. Wright is an English Instructor and writer. She enjoys listening to eclectic, but fabulous music and watching sporting events in time not spent teaching, grading, and writing.
WITHOUT A SONG © Youmans, Eliscu, Rose
Without a song, the day would never end Without a song, the road would never bend When things go wrong, a man ain't got a friend Without a song
That field of corn would never see a plow That field of corn would be deserted now A man is born, but he's no good no how Without a song
I've got my trouble and woe, but sure as I know, The Jordan will roll I'll get along as long as a song is strong in my soul
I'll never know what makes the rain to fall I'll never know what makes the grass so tall I only know there ain't no love at all Without a song
Part One of Two) What Does Music Say to You? ©Kathe Knight
It has been said that music is the universal language. Much the same as if someone actually spoke to us, songs demand immediate reactions. It is as if they are saying to us, “Listen to this. What do you think?”
Where does that universal language come from? My answer would have to be that music comes straight from God’s own heart. I believe it is one of His most generous gifts to mankind. As with any gift placed in our (musician’s) fortunate hands, we have a responsibility to use music for the positive purpose that God intended.
Like author and minister, Max Lucado, I believe that God smiles, and that He wants us to smile too, so occasionally He allows us to hear songs that make us happy. Then again, we might even be moved to tears by songs like “Don’t Laugh at Me”. (Singer: Mark Wills, writers: Steve Seskin and Allen Shamblin.) Not a religious song, a hymn or a gospel tune, this song is inspirational, however, sharing the serious life-lesson that in God’s eyes, we are all the same...fat, thin, short, tall, deaf, blind, rich, poor, etc.
Music’s emotion is so easy to understand. Rhythms, even certain musical “riffs” like the first three notes of the hit song “My Girl”, (performers: The Temptations, writers: Smokey Robinson, Ronald White), become immediately recognizable, telling us, “Get ready to hear this song. You’ve heard it a thousand times, but you still love it.” Easily recognizable song introductions like this one are called “signature riffs”.
Some songs put our toes in “automatic tapping mode”. Take “Orange Blossom Special”, for instance. (Writers: Erin Rouse and Chubby Wise). You might have started off to work early one morning, fighting the traffic. Maybe you just left a child at daycare and you’re making mental notes as to what you need to do when your workday is over. Go to the grocery store. Get milk, bread, etc. While all that is happening, through your car radio, playing in the background, music has been patiently waiting for a chance to talk to you during all your mental “busy-ness”.
(Now, there are no lyrics to this rendition of “Orange Blossom Special”, mind you -- just music.) You hear the intro. The same musical “phrase” or “lick” repeats and repeats. The rhythm is moving fast in such an exciting way. A lead instrument then makes a dynamic entry. Your inner “drummer” -- the little man who plays drums inside your brain, suddenly has your attention. You “feel” the rhythm. A part of your very soul says to you, “Yeah, this is good. Let’s listen." Then you enjoy the song. (Part Two to be continued in following blog...)
(Part Two of Two) WHAT DOES MUSIC SAY TO YOU? © KATHE KNIGHT (Continued From Part One...Previous Blog)
Let’s take a closer look to examine just what might make us feel the way we do about songs:
Good songs are powerful communicators. They can make us laugh or cry. The recent country radio hit by Lonestar, “Mr. Mom” (writers: Richie McDonald/Ron Harbin/Don Pfrimmer) is a story about a young father who thinks his “stay-at-home-wife” has it made, spending her days watching TV and taking long naps, while he works diligently to provide the family income. The story-song says that he loses his job. His wife tells him, “I’ll get a job while you keep the kids”, a suggestion that to him sounds very appealing. Tossing aspirations of being in line to become company CEO then, this husband and father jumps at the chance to become CCB (Chief Cook and Bottle washer).
As you might guess, though, after having experienced what his wife went through, at the end of this funny song, he tells her, “Honey, you’re my hero!”
Closer examination helps us realize that as we listened, we did so with anticipation of what the songs’ out-come would be. The opening lines pulled us in more and more until the song had our un-divided attention. Then, as it ended with a certain predictable “pay-off”, there was a sort of mental “sigh”, as we smiled. The amazing thing is that for three minutes or so, we were transported to another time and place. With a voyaging vocalist, we hitched a ride on a catchy rhythm with clever lyrics to arrive at our musical destination. What fun!
In addition to having all the necessary components of a good song... a great “hook” (title), a universal theme, humor, alliteration and more, Lonestar’s “Mr. Mom” also has perfect “prosody”, (the marriage of melody and lyric for the best possible arrangement of the song). No wonder we enjoyed it!
People often tell me, “I wish I could play, sing...”. Well, all of us who perform might say to that listener, “Good listeners are important too! Without you, we’d have no “sounding board”, no measurement of how well our music speaks to listeners. When you smile, dance, etc., you’re telling us that we’ve been good communicators of music’s language.”
Have you seen the bumper sticker, “Hug a musician ’cause they never get to dance.”? Well, we may not get to dance much, but what a wonderful “natural high” it is to know that we’re being well-received by an audience!
To me, and to so many other musicians, singers, songwriters and even to those listeners whose spirit is easily influenced by a song, music certainly is one of God’s most treasured gifts. Imagining just one day without it, the world would surely be sadder for its’ loss.
That’s all for now. Until next time, then...there’s a song that deserves my attention and I’m looking forward to hearing it.
Becoming A Professional Songwriter © Kathe Knight
Did you ever dream of becoming a professional songwriter? With the price of gas these days, that idea might be tempting. Especially when you consider that a #1 hit song could make you $500,000.00 richer! Supposing you did write a #1 hit, a large part of these “royalties” (monies collected) would come from the artist’s initial single release as your song would spin play after play across the airwaves and as each CD was sold. Then at a later date, as that same artist garnered other charting songs (successful songs according to the likes of Billboard, Gavin Report or Radio & Records), that artist would release a “Greatest Hits” album. Since your song would also be a part of this second album, more checks would arrive in your mailbox. I heard a hit songwriter once say that she is so grateful to her DJ friend for placing her song into the hands of the star who took it to #1, that every Christmas she sends him a check. That’d be nice. It’s Christmas...I’m spending X-amount of money... but hey, I’ve got so much now, I’ll be sure to remember my good friend who made my name recognizable to the entire music industry. (Sigh) But how does that happen? Does someone just get a sort-of divine inspiration one day and reach for the nearest piece of paper, be it a napkin, paper bag, etc.? I wish. But this is not a very likely scenario. In most cases, “overnight success” takes years. Years of reading books about songwriting, years of studying hit songs, years of writing songs, (since word has it, in Nashville, that the first 100 songs written are actually “throw-a-ways” in an effort to learn the craft of professional songwriting.) But wait. In addition to all that, add years of memberships in organizations whose purpose is to teach and/or guide songwriters in the right direction. Years of networking, or meeting people within the industry by attending seminars, making follow-up phone calls, stuffing envelopes with CDs, writing letters and e-mails. Then, of course, it is very necessary to visit a major music center many times before the average person can even begin to understand the complexity of the path a song actually must travel to become a number one hit. This path from songwriter to publisher to record company to artist would then, (with much prayer and luck, too), only place your song into the top of an imaginary “funnel”. (A funnel which takes in many songs, with most of them getting stopped, for one reason or another, within the narrow part of the funnel.) And at last, then, only a few songs would trickle through the entire funnel to “make the grade” or be included on the artist’s album...from which singles are promoted...from which number one hit songs are made. So now that you know more about what it takes to become a hit songwriter, would you still like to be one? Admittedly, it’s a long shot, but here’s what I believe: As long as the dream is alive, so is the possibility. Until next time, then...I’ve got a song to write.
Women Within the Music Industry © Kathe Knight
“I am a part of all that I have met”, said Alfred Lord Tennyson. The same could be said concerning the evolution of music, as we know it today, although to that statement, we might add the words of ingenious Greek mathematician, Euclid, who said, “The whole is equal to the sum of its parts.” The musical pasts of each new generation’s changes and additions, (“parts”), have combined, and still today, they continue to combine to form the music that we are able to enjoy.
Although I often speak of country music, I, personally, have great passion and respect for many different musical genres, from sacred to classical to the diverse forms of secular music offered to us today by popular American radio.
Through a college music course, I found it interesting to learn that an important occupation in thousands of monasteries during the Middle Ages, the years 450 - 1450, was liturgical singing. With further research, I found that, for centuries, an equal place for women was delayed for a number of socio-historical reasons, probably the strongest reason being that the Western church would not allow females to sing or play instruments in Church services. Imagine that! Boys were given musical training in association with schools and churches, but women were allowed to sing only in convents. How odd that seems today! I sure am glad that I am allowed to enjoy the freedom of expression to “sing my heart out” whenever I feel like it! Sadly, a quick glance at the Billboard Charts draws attention to the fact that only about a third of those chart positions are occupied by women at any given time. In modern times, women have been active, even prominent within the commercial music industry, with a few actually holding high-level executive positions. However, we women do still have a way to go toward equal musical opportunity and acceptance.
Be sure to think about that the next time you hear Martina McBride or Sara Evans on the radio. On the day each one of them recorded the song you are hearing, think about what it took for them to allow themselves to stand in front of that microphone. With their number-one priority being the stability of home and family life, (both Martina and Sara are wives and mothers), many stressful experiences must demand to be dealt with on a daily basis, from sick babies to making bank deposits with many things in between.
Even though they both can easily afford to hire competent assistance now, I’m sure there was a time when each one of these women might have, lovingly, changed a dirty diaper, gathered up yesterday’s clothes and started the washer, placed a band-aid on a “boo-boo”, put supper in the crock-pot and asked Calgon to “take them away!” Then somehow, they both managed to appear to, publicly, be completely relaxed and looking like a “million bucks”! How do they do that?
Like everyone, I do love to hear a good male voice, and I sincerely respect the great talents of those men who persevere through seemingly, endless oceans of record company refusals to finally make it to the top, still, I cannot deny my female heart its empathetic understanding.
This would be the message I would write to Martina, Sarah and all other wives and mothers who are musically successful, if I was sure they would read it: “You made it, girls...’way to go! You listened to your hearts and gave yourselves to your children first. Indeed, now, you do have something to sing about!”