In the Fall of 2017, I packed up my things and moved from my hometown in Illinois to Tennessee. I moved to finish my Bachelors degree at Middle Tennessee State University and to dive deeper into the music industry. I started MTSU with a Music Business degree in mind, but quickly changed my major to Commercial Songwriting, after all, it's the songwriters that get noticed in Nashville! My first semester school schedule still left me with plenty of time to explore my new city and get to do some exciting things...so let me go ahead and get you caught up....
- Attended Pilgrimage Festival (September 2017)
- My First Nashville Gig: Tootsie's Orchid Lounge (October 2017)
- My Acting Debut as a "VIP Extra" on Season 6, Episode 1 of CMT's Nashville (October 2017)
- Met Walker Hayes at CMA (October 2017)
- Met Smithfield at MTSU (October 2017)
- Met Charlie Daniels at MTSU (November 2017)
- Attended the ASCAP Awards (November 2017)
- Was a Holiday Makeover Model on Pickler & Ben (November 2017)
- Goat Yoga (November 2017)
- Internship with Country Radio Broadcasters/Helped put on Country Radio Seminar (February 2018)
- Attended Nashville Fashion Week (April 2018)
- Played the United Methodist Association Annual Meeting at the Marriott Hotel Nashville (April 2018)
- Attended CMA Fest (June 2018)
- Played The Row Nashville (October 2018)
- Saw Elton John at the Bridgestone Arena (October 2018)
- Danced on Stage with Kassi Ashton at Exit Inn (November 2018)
- Attended My First Nashville Predators Game (November 2018)
- Helped work the 2019 Country Radio Seminar (February 2019)
- Played Hank's Honky Tonk (March 2019)
- Sang the National Anthem at a Nashville Sounds Game (April 2019)
- Played an "Extra" in the new Lifetime Movie: Patsy and Loretta Forever (April 2019)
My First Nashville Gig: Tootsie's Orchid Lounge
Nashville always has something going on and I have had amazing opportunities to attend many events that I had only ever dreamed of going to. I want to share my story about a few of these experiences with you. Let's start with my first official Nashville gig at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge! Tootsie's hosts an open mic every Saturday afternoon in order to hire entertainment for their bar. It's a way for them to easily pick talent for their regular gigs and it fills their back bar with musicians for the afternoon.
My friend, Karson, invited me and our friend, Austin, to go into Nashville for the day to play the open mic. When we arrived there, we put our names on the list. I was the eighth person to get up and play. When it was my turn, I jumped up on stage with the house band and played three of my favorite cover songs: Miranda Lambert's "Gunpowder and Lead", Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire", and Bonnie Raitt's "Angel From Montgomery". When I was done, the host of the open mic, Russell, asked if I would come back the next morning and play the opening gig of the day with him and another guy from the open mic. I wasn't going to turn that down!
I quickly texted my parents and my boyfriend, Seth, to let them know the good news! When I arrived back home, I called my parents and they informed me that they were headed to Seth's house to pick him up and make the 8 hour drive to Tennessee to see my Sunday morning gig! They rolled into town at 1:00 am and we all headed to bed to rest up for the next day.
Bright and early, at 5:00 am, my alarm went off! My gig was scheduled from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. We arrived back at the purple bar in time for me to set my equipment up and do a quick soundcheck. The gig was set up "Writer's Round" style, so we all took turns playing our songs. When I wasn't playing, I would head out to the crowd with our tip bucket. I greeted the tourists and asked them what they wanted to hear. We had a packed bar with people from all over the United States and Canada.
This gig was one of my biggest accomplishments in Nashville to date and a gig that I am extremely proud of. After only two months of living in Tennessee, I earned a gig at the "world famous" Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. So many legendary musicians got their start playing several nights a week at Tootsie's and I was lucky enough to perform on the same stage. It's an experience I will never forget.
My Acting Debut
When I came to Nashville, I never thought I would try my hand in acting, but it is definitely something that I have enjoyed trying! I may be making my role into a bigger deal than it actually was, but if you look really closely during the episode, you can see a strand of my hair and part of my shoulder! I'm counting it! Someone set up my iMDb account, please! Nashville was one of my favorite shows when it was on the air. I found out about this opportunity from a Facebook post made by a girl who works for the show. I didn't have classes the day they were filming, so I immediately submitted my information to be a "concert scene" extra.
I arrived to the set at 8:00 am for my call time. I checked in and waited in the holding area with the hundreds of other people. When everyone was checked in, they started calling people to go check in with the hair, makeup, and wardrobe team. Once the wardrobe team saw the outfit choices that I had brought to film in, they upgraded me to a 'VIP extra'! WHAT?? OH MY GOODNESS! This meant that instead of standing in the "crowd" for the concert scenes, I would be standing at the side of stage by all of the main actors and musicians. When I was finished with the hair and wardrobe team, I sat back down in the holding area waiting for filming to start. I made some good friends while we were waiting. One of my friends from the set, Ivory, and I are still close to this day!
We ended up shooting a few different scenes that day. In case you want to go back and look for me...we shot Maddie's Staples Center concert scene, backstage at the Bridgestone Arena with Jackson, Deacon, Will, and Gunner, the side stage moment at the Bridgestone Arena with Juliette and Deacon, and the concert scene at Bridgestone Arena where Juliette had her first meltdown of the season. Finally, after 14 hours in the most uncomfortable shoes, we wrapped the episode. A few weeks later, it was announced that the sixth season would be the show's final season. I'm so happy I stepped outside of my comfort zone and went to be apart of this amazing show!
SIDE NOTE: When the show wrapped filming for the final season, they had a warehouse sale and sold everything from clothes that cast wore to furniture that was used in the characters' houses. I ended up buying a pair of earrings that Hayden Panettiere (Juliette Barnes) wore during her stage meltdown scene that I was an extra for.
Pickler and Ben
One of my favorite things to do in Nashville on my off days was going to watch the taping of the show, Pickler and Ben. Kellie Pickler and Ben Aaron's morning show was filmed in Nashville and was completely free to go watch. Unfortunately, it just got canceled, but they would usually film 2-3 shows during their filming days.
Back in November of 2017, my friend, April, and I went to the show for the first time. We arrived at Skyway Studios and checked in to the set at 8:45 am. At 9:30 am, they brought us into the filming area to get everyone seated. The audience host, Sharvo, coached us on how to react during the show. The show films all of their episodes in a live-to-tape form, so it's set up like a live show, but they actually record it about two weeks in advance. The show started at 10:00 am and they filmed seven segments. After each segment, they would cut to "commercial", where Sharvo would entertain the audience while we were waiting for filming to start again.
Halfway through the show, I noticed a member of the show's crew looking over at me. I assumed she was a part of the wardrobe team or hair and makeup team. Not too long after I noticed her, she walked over to me and asked, "Would you be available to stay for the second taping and be apart of our Holiday Makeover segment?". Of course, I agreed without hesitation. I tried to contain myself as the filming of the first show started back up. During the next commercial break, the lady came back over and asked if April would also be apart of the Holiday Makeover segment.
The idea for the Holiday Makeover segment was to have Carson Kressley (from the original Queer Eye series) show the viewers their holiday wardrobe options for Christmas get-togethers and New Years Eve parties. After getting our incredibly staged, dressed down "before" pictures taken, we headed backstage to get our hair and makeup redone.
There were four other girls apart of the segment that were found by the production team at a local mall and Target. The team dressed me up in a metallic silver party dress, pink rhinestone heels, a rhinestone statement necklace, and a fancy pink coat to accompany my dress. April was dressed in an off-white sequin sweater, blue pants, and grey heels. We loved our outfits and were ready to show them off! At 1:00 pm, the second taping began. Our segment was about 30 minutes into the show and we were still getting ready right up until it was time to start our segment.
Finally, it was time to go. We quietly walked to our spots for our final reveal. Kellie, Ben, and Carson were all seated on couches and they brought us out two at a time. April was in the first pair to walk out. They showed their "before" pictures, then called them out to the stage. The audience cheered with excitement as soon as they saw the girls. Kellie, Ben, and Carson discussed how much they loved the looks before they revealed the next two girls. I was in the last group. I gracefully strutted out to the stage in heels that were a size and a half too small and murdering my feet. It felt so good to show off our "after" looks. When we were all out on stage, the crowd cheered again.
We stopped to get a group picture with Kellie, Ben, and Carson before going backstage to pack up our things. I immediately took off the painfully awful heels I was wearing and ran back to the room we got ready in. We gathered our things and the wardrobe team offered for us to keep our outfits. We were all thrilled! The exception to my outfit was my pink coat. They wanted that back. Dang it! I really wanted that pink coat!!! April and I walked back to my car reviewing the amazing experience we had just been apart of. We were still in shock that it had actually happened.