Monty Lane Allen, a multi-talented artist from South Carolina, is based in Nashville, Tennessee and is a well-known guitarist in the modern country music scene. After the release of his debut album Great Big World in 2008, several of his music videos aired on CMT and GAC and the song “Falling Water” eventually earned him a Telly Award for Best Music Video. Apart from his solo career, Monty Lane has toured as a member of Alan Jackson’s backing group, The Strayhorns, for many years.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 10/15/2020.
Bassist and Alabama native Jimbo Hart has been holding down Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit’s low end for over a decade, touring the world and earning a Grammy for the group’s 2017 album, The Nashville Sound. Recorded in his home studio, Jimbo articulates why geology plays a significant role in the music of Muscle Shoals, the joy he gets from recording others (like projects for Ross Adams and King Corduroy), and the importance of meaningful connection between musicians as well as a reverence for the past. As one of many musicians intertwined with the Muscle Shoals scene, Jimbo Hart has made his own name as a producer, bassist and writer.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 10/03/2020.
Born in Jackson, Mississippi, and raised all over America, Wallace Lester has been playing drums from an early age. Wallace spent the 1990s touring nationally with the Boulder, Colorado-based funk-jam band Zuba. He played over two hundred and fifty dates a year with Zuba and placed his songs in the Farrelly Brothers’ classic comedies Kingpin and There’s Something About Mary. Once he moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, Wallace drummed with the space rockers Bipolaroid and the soul blues shouter Mathilda Jones. Hurricane Katrina sent Wallace north to Mississippi, where in his first week in Oxford, he was asked to join the Yalobushwackers with Jim Dickinson. Besides the Yalobushwackers, Wallace has also toured nationally and internationally with Kenny Brown, Reverend John Wilkins, the Como Mamas, Shannon McNally, Eric Deaton, Blue Mountain, and Garry Burnside. After twelve years in Holly Springs, Mississippi, Wallace now resides in Nashville, Tennessee.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 09/18/2020.
The McCrary Sisters sing a unique style of gospel and inspirational music. Influenced by classic soul, Americana, blues and rhythm n blues, these sisters bring their joy to singing with tight soulful harmonies. The McCrary Sisters (Ann, Deborah, Regina and Alfreda) are the daughters of the late Rev. Samuel McCrary, one of the original members of the legendary gospel quartet, the Fairfield Four. The daughters were raised singing at home and at their father’s church before embarking as solo artists who performed with a wide range of major artists, including Bob Dylan, Elvis, Isaac Hayes, Stevie Wonder and more. In 2011, the Sisters officially formed their own group, the McCrary Sisters, and have since recorded or performed with notable artists Delbert McClinton, Black Keys, Martina McBride, Eric Church, Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, Jonny Lang, Robert Randolph, the Winans, Donnie McClurkin, Rosanne Cash, Carrie Underwood, Hank Williams, Jr., Dr. John, Widespread Panic, Sheryl Crow, Maren Morris, Gregg Allman and many more. They have been featured on countless broadcasts, including BET’s Bobby Jones Gospel, TBN’s Jason Crabbe Show, PBS’s Rock My Soul w/ Fairfield Four, Lee Ann Womack, Buddy Miller, PBS’s Mountain Stage, CMT’s 2016 Fan Festival with Carrie Underwood, CMT’s 2015 Artists of the Year with Eric Church, ABC’s CMA Awards 2015 with Hank Williams, Jr., 2016’s Maren Morris special and more. Their annual Tennessee Christmas special is much beloved and widely watched.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 10/19/2020.
Sari De Leon-Reist is Artistic Director of the Grammy-nominated Alias Chamber Ensemble. She plays with the Nashville Opera Orchestra and is a regular substitute for the Nashville Symphony. Sari was also a soloist with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra and the Nexus Chamber Orchestra. In the popular music realm, she can be heard on the recordings of Lady A (formerly Lady Antebellum), Kings of Leon, Faith Hill, Ben Folds, Train, Carrie Underwood, and many others. Sari received her Bachelor of Music degree in cello performance from San Francisco Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Irene Sharp. She was formerly on the faculty of Mannes College of Music, School for Strings New York, and the Children’s Orchestra Society of New York, as well as the Governor’s School of the Arts in Tennessee and Lipscomb University. In 2018, she was a guest artist in the First National Youth Cello Festival in Ningbo, China. Sari teaches at Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 09/22/2020.
Born into one of the first Creole families to settle in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana, Marcella René Simien took her South Louisiana heritage to Memphis, Tennessee, where she is based. Daughter of two-time Grammy Award-winning zydeco artist Terrance Simien, Marcella grew up immersed in sound and performance. A graduate of the prestigious Memphis College of Art, Simien is now the front woman for her band, Marcella and Her Lovers. Her music is a hybrid of classic Memphis soul and New Orleans funk performed with the help of Creole accordion. As one of only 500 artists in America nominated for a prestigious USA Artists Fellowship, in 2016 Marcella and Her Lovers were also featured on the nationally syndicated radio program Beale Street Caravan. She has been a featured performer on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise alongside greats such as Marcia Ball, Allen Toussaint, and Irma Thomas. She sang lead vocals on a track off her father’s album Dockside Sessions, which won a Grammy for Best Regional Roots Album of the Year (2014). Simien’s first full-length album, Got You Found, with Marcella and Her Lovers, was engineered and co-produced at American Recording Studio by Pete Matthews and Toby Vest.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 10/06/2020.