Smithfield Releases Debut Album, ‘Country with Heart’

Smithfield

I first heard the duo Smithfield in 2018 on Sirius XM’s The Highway when their song “Hey Whiskey” was a big hit. Comprised of vocalists Trey Smith and Jennifer Fielder, they are lifelong friends who grew up near each other.

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Music Spotlight: Matt Oakley

Matt Oakley grew up around all kinds of music. His dad was a DJ in the military in Germany.

He recalled, “We always had those little boomboxes going and those old CD players that were like small oval-shaped. We have our home videos. And almost everyone, whether it was on a desk or a kitchen table, or me and my sisters dancing around, we were always around music. And in car rides, when we would go on road trips, we would play music trivia or play the song. The first person to get what the song is and who it’s by gets a point.”

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The Dryes Release ‘Dear Heart’ for Mental Health Awareness Month

The Dryes

Last July, when NBC The Voice alums, Katelyn Drye and Derek Drye announced their lead single “Sawdust” off their forthcoming EP, I was keen to feature them because I loved the song so much. Now, after the success of the rowdy Raisin’ Beers & Hallelujahs EP, The Dryes have chronicled a more serious side of the past four years of their lives with their newest EP, Dear Heart.

Even though they are an extremely talented, happily married couple, they still go through struggles like the rest of us. This newest body of work showcases moments of grief, honest questioning, finding relief in moments of hope, and living with a beautiful new perspective. This is especially important now as May marks the highly important Mental Health Awareness Month.

In February, the duo released the first track off of their newest EP, “A Little Longer.” The video for the song, which was played on CMT, features a breathtaking sunset. The couple pic

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Music Spotlight: Zach Top

Zach Top

Anybody who follows me or my column knows that I have a type. Traditional country music stirs my soul. When I find someone young who can do the same thing, I do my best to track them down.

Zach Top is such an artist. His name kept showing up all over my feeds. When I heard the popular “Sounds Like the Radio,” I was thrilled and couldn’t stop smiling. I relentlessly pursued his people until I got an interview.

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Music Spotlight: Scotty McCreery

Scotty McCreery

To say 2024 has been a banner year for Scotty McCreery would be an understatement. From his beloved North Carolina State making it to the NCAA Final Four to recently being added to the prestigious roster of Grand Ole Opry members, you would think that there wasn’t much left for the 30-year-old to accomplish.

In 2011, 17-year-old McCreery beat out Lauren Alaina to win American Idol. In June 2018, McCreery married the love of his life, Gabi, and in 2022, they welcomed a son, Avery. Since becoming a solo artist, the Triple Tigers recording artist has garnered five number-one hits, including the fan favorites “Five More Minutes” and “Damn Strait.”

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Music Spotlight: Skip Ewing

Donald Ralph “Skip” Ewing is a musician’s musician. To say that his singing and songwriting are brilliant is an understatement. And he can play almost any stringed instrument.

He said, “I don’t remember when I couldn’t play a guitar. I took a woman’s pink foam curler, took the plastic out of it, and stuck it up under my strings so I could play late into the night without the guitar making a sound.”

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Music Spotlight Follow-Up: Donny Van Slee

Donny Van Slee

Since I interviewed Donny Van Slee back in 2022, I’ve always been intrigued by the chiropractor/country music singer who unashamedly goes to the beat of his own drummer. He was the first person to bring artists like Zach Bryan and Jack Johnson to my attention as they are performers that Van Slee likes to emulate.

Because his life is spread in so many directions, you can imagine my surprise when Van Slee showed up on Reba’s team on NBC’s The Voice earlier this spring. When he sang Lanco’s “Greatest Love Story” he was so good that Reba blocked Dan & Shay so she could have him all to herself. He was confident, showing that he was having the time of his life.

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Music Spotlight: Presley Tennant

Presley Tennant

One thing I have learned about TV singing shows is that the finalists are nearly always as good (if not better) as the actual winner. So, I try to interview as many country singers from these shows as possible.

Presley Tennant is a powerhouse singer from Norco, California, a horse town that is 35 miles east of Los Angeles. She was a finalist on Season 16 of NBC’s The Voice in 2019 when she was just 16. She has often been compared to Whitney Houston and Carrie Underwood.

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