If you like country music and you’re on any social media app, you’ve probably seen Cooper Alan on your screen in the past two years. The up-and-coming country star has independently built a fanbase of over 8.5 million followers and has earned over 80 million streams on his music. Originally from Winston Salem, NC, he spent his high school and college years playing bars, college campuses, and Honky Tonks all across the Carolinas. He and his band became the “go to” for great music and a high energy, all night throwdown performance.
After graduation, Cooper packed up his guitar and moved to Nashville as fast as he could, where he had the incredible luck of meeting hit songwriter/producer Victoria Shaw who signed him within weeks to a publishing deal. He is fortunate and proud to have the opportunity to write songs with people like Rivers Rutherford, Seth Mosley, Matt Nolen, Skip Black, Kent Blazy, Desmond Child, Jeffrey Steele, and Victoria Shaw.
Cooper’s music has been streamed over 50 million times His hit singles include “New Normal”, “Tough Ones”, “Colt 45 (Country Remix)”, “Can’t Dance”, and many more. His songs have reached #1 on the iTunes Charts multiple times. This past year, Cooper started his own record label (Cooped Up Records) and began to translate his social media audience into killer live shows, selling out venues all across the country. Because of his streaming and live touring success, he was named a “Next Big Thing” artist by Music Row Magazine.
Nashville singer-songwriters are known for letting their music do all the talking. But for Spencer Crandall, he goes that one better. He’s made it his mission to get to know each and every one of his fans. That dedication to truly connecting one-on-one with Day One fans and new fans has stuck with Crandall ever since.
Crandall packed up his Nissan Pathfinder in 2016 and drove himself straight to Nashville. “My car was packed so tight that if you opened a door, my whole life would fall out. And I knew nobody. I found a roommate through the one guy I knew, and then I started going to writers’ rounds – asking everyone I met to grab coffee. I grabbed a million coffees that year I moved here,” he says.
And it paid off when Crandall realized that as a songwriter, you’re better off in a room with other songwriters. His analogy is that when you play sports at home by yourself and then join a league, you see people who are better than you and you know you have to bring your A game. “That’s how cowriting felt to me. I needed to go all in for me and the other writers. Now it’s not about writing a song, it’s about writing the song. The song that connects with everyone, even though it’s specific to what I might be going through. That power of storytelling is what is at the heart of country music to me.”
He recalls finding inspiration from other singer-songwriters who moved to Nashville and were not overnight sensations. “Keith Urban had lots of things that didn’t turn out, but I admire that tenacity. Same with Luke Combs. If you came to town and got told ‘No,’ but succeeded anyway, that’s inspiring,” he says now. And things are different today, because of the way fans find music. “You don’t have to wait for the industry to let you in. You can build a fanbase by going directly to them, and always putting fans first. I still spend an hour a day connecting with my fans. People tell me everything.”
“My music is not the most country in the world, but it’s not not country.” That, he says, is what makes his music a bridge for people to come from elsewhere into the modern-era country songs of Crandall’s Nashville.
Singer/songwriter Josh Garrels has built his career on deeply personal, introspective lyrics and exploratory sounds that range from pastoral indie folk to hip-hop. Emerging in the early 2000s, he is the co-founder of Small Voice Records, on which he issued 2008's Jacaranda. In 2015, he landed on the Billboard 200 with Home. Although Garrels has remained loosely tied to the Christian music community throughout his career, he has shied away from declaring himself either a strictly Christian or secular artist, instead letting his music tell the his life's story.
Born in 1980 in South Bend, Indiana, Garrels initially played in punk bands during his teenage years and fell under the spell of East Coast rap before college. In his early twenties, he came into the Christian faith, which became a major thread in his musical journey. He began releasing self-produced, home-recorded albums with 2002's Stonetree, followed a year later by Underquiet, and Over Oceans in 2006. Possessed of a rich, soulful voice, he began to add more orchestral elements into his folk-based sound, sometimes rapping, sometimes crooning his complex but approachable songs. On his own Small Voice Records, he released 2008's Jacaranda and toured extensively, eventually moving to North Carolina where he released a collection of rarities called the Lost Animals EP. In 2010, he collaborated with the Brooklyn-based Mason Jar Music collective performing an orchestrated version of his song "Words Remain" at a historic Episcopal Church in Manhattan.
In 2011, he released the elaborate double album Love & War & the Sea in Between which was influenced by his adopted home of Portland, Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. The album was praised by both Christian and secular media as a career milestone for Garrels. The year after its release, he again partnered with the Mason Jar Music to film the music documentary The Sea in Between, which was filmed on remote Mayne Island in British Columbia and for which he provided the soundtrack. He had a number of his songs placed on TV shows including CBS' The Ghost Whisperer and ESPN's Outside the Lines and scored several small films. In 2015 he released Home, which he offered to fans for free download via the website NoiseTrade. Subsequently, the album landed at number 19 on the Billboard Digital Albums chart and 83 on the Billboard 200. The following year saw the release of the holiday-themed The Light Came Down. In 2019, he issued Chrysaline, which he produced both on his own in Muncie, Indiana and in Charlottesville, Virginia with Isaac Wardell.
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Dying Wish Official:
Smith has amassed an unfailingly devout fan base, not only in his native Southeast region, but all around the nation, simply by telling it the way it is. He has released 10 albums—including 2011’s Top 20 release “The Broken Record”. Corey has written every word on every album and has produced 9 out of 10 of the records. In Summer 2015, Corey teamed up with producer Keith Stegall (Alan Jackson, Zac Brown Band) for his album, “While the Gettin’ Is Good,” released on Sugar Hill Records. Smith’s concerts, which were documented on his last live record, “Live in Chattanooga”, regularly sell out, with audiences singing along to such fan favorites as the coming-of-age anthem “Twenty-One,” the nostalgic time warp “If I Could Do It Again” and the group hug “I Love Everyone”. Corey has a consistent touring history, usually hitting around 120 dates per year, but recently has taken a pause form touring to undergo a risky eye surgery. During his time at home, Corey has begun releasing solo acoustic tracks every week, directly to his devoted fan base via his YouTube series Songsmith Weekly and all music streaming platforms. These tracks, such as “Cellophane”, “Where I Wish I Was” and “Going Blind” have re-energized his fan base. Corey is planning in compiling these releases in a more traditional album format later this year and is currently on tour.
►Colt’s new single, “Keys To The Country” features Vince Gill, Dan Tyminski and RVSHVD.
►Colt co-wrote Jason Aldean’s #1 hit, “Dirt Road Anthem,” and Brantley Gilbert’s #1, “Country Must Be Country Wide.”
►Constantly engaging with his fans, Colt has over 2.5 million social media followers, 1 billion streams, and over 3 million albums sold.
Drummer Vinny Appice, on the sound of the new record and song writing process, says “I always sound like me. Viv and I have been playing together for years and have the same feel and pulse and attitude. Now with Phil on bass, he allows a more melodic approach on the bass parts making the songs even more interesting. First, we have fun writing together. We get in a room and jam on riffs and chords until we hit on something good, then continue to build it into a song. Andy puts his magic on it and it all works out very well.”
Phil Soussan says about how it was joining Last In Line and the development of the songs, “It was refreshing to be able to write songs in such an organic fashion – by jamming and developing ideas as a group, without bringing in preconceived songs – something I haven’t done for ages. The result was a true collaboration, a concept that is so rare these days!
Vinny has a unique style of drumming that, beyond keeping beats, inspires riffs and arrangements and Vivian has a way of playing that has a conviction to every note. He is able to turn every riff into a signature. With ‘II’ I would like to think that we have stretched out from ‘Heavy Crown’ to test some uncharted waters…. the evolution of Last in Line!”
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