“I’ve always been the type of person who will tell you everything and put myself out there totally unglossed,” says Betty Who. “Writing is therapeutic in that way. I want other people to be able to hear a song and say, ‘That’s how I felt but was too afraid to say it.’ And that’s the beauty of music, you can really say anything you want with a catchy hook.”
Therein lies the magic of Betty Who and her explosive rise to fame last year on the strength of her breakout debut EP, ‘The Movement.’ Her songs exorcise vulnerabilities and weaknesses, reclaiming them as anthems of joy and independence. Lead single “Somebody Loves You” debuted at #4 on Spotify’s Most Viral list, racking up more than six million streams and earning her raves from BuzzFeed and Perez Hilton to SPIN and Nylon, along with spreads in Elle (who called her “your next pop obsession”), Cosmo, and more. TIME named her one of 14 To Watch in 2014, NY Mag described her as a mix of “early Madonna...Katy Perry and Robyn, with spunk and confidence,” and Billboard hailed her “shimmering tracks...and arresting pop textures.”
To call the EP an unexpected triumph would be an understatement, though, especially considering it was initially released independently. The grassroots success of the music, fueled primarily by word of mouth online from a passionate fanbase and Who’s undeniable charisma as a frontwoman in her ecstatic live shows, led to a deal with RCA, who released her follow-up EP, ‘Slow Dancing,’ which debuted at #1 on the iTunes Pop Chart. Now, as Who prepares to release her forthcoming debut LP, perform on Late Night with Seth Meyers, and join Katy Perry on tour, she finds herself a far cry away from her roots as a classical cellist growing up half a world away in Australia. “I had these dueling musical interests,” says Who of her childhood. “My first tape was Britney Spears and I know every single word to ‘No Strings Attached’ by N Sync. But I had this cello that I started playing when I was four, and I played a lot of classical music until I was 18, so I’d be dancing in my room to ‘Genie In A Bottle’ and then I would go to orchestra rehearsal.”
Who earned acceptance to the prestigious Interlochen Center of the Arts in Michigan, where she excelled in the rigorous classical program. On a trip to Boston during her senior year to audition for the Berklee College of Music, Who was introduced to Peter Thomas, who would become integral to her career months later when she returned to enroll in the school. “He came to me right before he withdrew from Berklee and said we should mess around in the studio and see what happens,” Who remembers. “I think from that day forward we spent almost every night at our engineer’s apartment, all crammed around the computer talking about songs and what we wanted and what we didn’t want. We did a lot of discovering who we were, and Peter became one of my best friends.”
Though it was never their intention, the result of those late night sessions was ‘The Movement’ EP, and the reaction to the music confirmed that they indeed had something special on their hands.
“We basically made a name for ourselves with people who were just genuine music fans,” says Who. “They wanted to see the underdog succeed because I was an independent artist.”
If anything, signing with RCA has only encouraged Who to double down on those endearing qualities that made her such a rising independent star in the first place. The ‘Slow Dancing’ EP, her second collaboration with Thomas, opens with “Heartbreak Dream,” an 80?s-inspired pop masterpiece that works audiences up into a dancing frenzy live. “Alone Again” is a Prince-esque gem that poured out in just a few hours during what Who describes as a “Beyonce moment” of self-empowerment, while “Giving Me Away” is such a vulnerable, personal statement that she wasn’t sure if she could ever publicly perform it. But that’s what makes her Betty Who, that vulnerable musical alchemy by which she turns deep, emotional, sometimes painful moments into cathartic bursts of abandon and collective bliss. On the eve of completing her debut LP, one thing is abundantly clear: Betty Who still has a lot more magic up her sleeve.
Blake Lewis first came to national attention as one of the most unique contestants ever to compete on American Idol, and long before that, as a teenager, he was well-known as "Bshorty" in Seattle's a cappella, hip-hop, and rave scenes. But with the release of his ambitious and completely independent third album, Portrait of a Chameleon, Blake is taking things to a whole new level.
The follow-up to the critically acclaimed Audio Day Dream (which sold 350,000 copies and spawned the top 40 single "Break Anotha") and Heartbreak on Vinyl (the title track of which went to #1 twice on Billboard's dance charts), Portrait of a Chameleon is "fun, sexy, and positive. I'd call it 'future pop,'" says Blake. "Across the album, I juxtapose so many different kinds of music. It's very anthemic, and there's an epic feel. The album metaphor has to do with finding our colors, as we are all chameleons. I'm standing out on the cover because I've found mine. I will always continue to stretch the boundaries of the human voice and create the music that colors my life."
Using Blake's own painstakingly handcrafted library of sampled mouth sounds ("beatboxing, sound effects, vocal scratching, the works") as its foundation, Portrait of a Chameleon runs the gamut from the reggae-tinged Nick Hexum co-write "She Gives Me Her Love" to the horn-laden funky-freshness of "Disco in Space," from the sexy slow-jam "Lost in Heaven" to the poignant life-on-the-fringe cautionary tale "Not Today," the latter inspired by Blake's mother, whom he considers his main inspiration. The album also features the hard-hitting, bass-in-your-face "Your Touch," the soundtrack to 2013's Microsoft Internet Explorer 10 campaign — which starred Blake, played on more than 19,000 theater screens across the U.S., received more than 1.2 billion impressions, and has already sold 130,000 copies worldwide.
But perhaps the centerpiece of Portrait is the '80s-tastic pop epic "Retro Romance." A sonic sequel of sorts to "Heartbreak on Vinyl," the frothy, feelgood ode to a Jordache-clad dreamgirl with "Suzanne Somers thighs" sounds like a final-love-scene song on a John Hughes soundtrack — meaning, of course, that it sounds totally awesome. "Duran Duran, the Cure, Depeche Mode, Prince, and Michael Jackson were always playing when I was growing up, on CD or on vinyl," Blake says fondly of his proud '80s influences.
However, Portrait of a Chameleon — out on Blake's on Audio Day Dream Records and distributed through InGrooves — still has a hypermodern feel, and Blake is looking ahead, hoping that his "future pop" will connect with fans of all ages. "So here we go/A chance to start again/The melody is calling me/There's no time to pretend," he boldly declares in the album's opening track.
"I never wanted to stick to one style or stay in one place," Blake stresses. "And I haven't been more proud of anything in my life than this album."
"Blake Lewis is such an amazing talent, and Portrait of a Chameleon really delivers on showcasing all his skill and artistry." — Ken Jordan, The Crystal Method
"Blake is a super-soulful and creative dude. We had a lot of fun writing 'She Gives Me Her Love.' Great vocal and beats." — Nick Hexum, 311
Tatianna is the stage name of Joey Santolini, an American drag performer, hair stylist, make-up artist and performing artist from Falls Church, Virginia. He is best known for being a contestant on Season 2of RuPaul's Drag Race.
Tatianna was revealed to be a contestant for RuPaul's All Stars Drag Race (season 2), where he was eliminated on episode 2. Due to a twist that occurred on episode 5, Tatianna returned to the competition alongside previously-eliminated queen; Alyssa Edwards.
She was eventually eliminated by Alaska in episode 6. Her elimination caused an uproar among fans and she is widely regarded as one of the breakout stars of All Stars 2
Hannah Thomas is bringing her own style of music to the roots rock world with a voice reminiscent of young Bonnie Raitt, grit and bravado that draws comparisons to Melissa Etheridge, and the southern rock soul of Chris Robinson.
Born and raised in Covington, Georgia, Thomas grew up on classic rock and country music: "my dad introduced me to Aerosmith and Black Sabbath, and with my mom I would listen to a lot of Patsy Cline, Tina Turner and The Judds. Later on I discovered 90s alternative". Thomas (and those close to her) will admit that ever since she was able to walk and talk, she has never wanted to do anything except perform.
Thomas's various influences can be heard on her new album produced by Lester Nuby III (St. Paul and The Broken Bones) in Birmingham, Alabama. "Fault Line" is her first full-length LP since 2012, spanning the gap between Atlanta's eclectic roots rock revival and the soulful, classic rock sound of Muscle Shoals. Thomas is joined by an all-star band comprised of Brandon Bush on keys (Sugarland/Train), Sadler Vaden on guitar (Drivin N Cryin/Jason Isbell), Jimbo Hart on bass guitar (Jason Isbell) and Chad Gamble on drums (Jason Isbell). The LP includes a song co-written with Michelle Malone. Malone plays lead guitar on that single, alongside Gerry Hansen on drums (Chuck Leavell, Randall Bramblett, Shawn Mullins) and Michael C. Steel on bass (Randall Bramblett). The album also features guest vocals by Terri Clark and Amy Ray of Indigo Girls.
San Francisco songwriter Taylor Brooks (The Temptations, Ray Charles & John Legend) teams up with Heather Maples — singer-songwriter, popular regional headliner and 8th-generation daughter of the East Tennessee Smoky Mountains to front this band— and together with keyboard maestro Mark Meyer, and popular Philly percussionist Craig Johnston, create a serious blend of classic rock, country and original music delivered with energy, style and fun! Based in Gatlinburg, BAMM! hosts a popular local jam night (BAMM JAM) every Tuesday at Three Jimmy’s and you can find them performing there every Friday night starting at 9pm.
Please see KGMC perform their Spring Concert on Saturday, May 20, 2016 8 PM at the Bijou Theatre. A portion of each of their concert ticket sold will go to benefit Knox Pride to help keep Pridefest free. Click here for tickets.
The KGMC strives to give entertaining high-quality performances that appeal to all audiences while shedding a positive light on the GLBT community.
The Knoxville Gay Men’s Chorus wishes to be recognized as a quality group of voices not only in the GLBT community, but also the community at large. The KGMC promotes its mission by focusing on the following:
Creating relationships with members, sponsors, and the audience
Promoting equality by actively encouraging participation of all men regardless of age, race, birth sex, sexual orientation, and religious affiliation
Striving for excellence by selecting challenging choral pieces for male mixed voices
Promoting social change and building community in its performances
Didn’t you know Knoxville had an opera company?
We’ve provided cultural enrichment to East Tennessee since 1978 and every year keeps getting better! This season we are bringing you Gilbert & Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore, Bizet’s Carmen, and Verdi’s Il Trovatore.
For an unforgettable experience, there’s nothing like opera. It’s the ultimate culmination of the best of all of the arts. Experience the drama and comedy of theatre, the beauty of visual art, the impressive sound of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and the absolute magnificence of the human voice! Opera is for everyone – it reflects timeless and universal human conflicts, humor and passions. There’s just nothing like it!
Destroy Your Assumptions – Most people have preconceived notions about what an operatic experience entails. Does any of this sound familiar?
“Opera is only for rich people.”
– Tickets to Knoxville Opera performances start at just $13. Yes, premiere seats at the front of the house may cost you a week’s worth of groceries. But if you’re willing to sacrifice your fantastic view of the performers’ feet, cost-effective seats (especially for students) are available.
“Opera puts you to sleep.”
– Are you bored by murder, betrayal, lust, extravagance, the supernatural or madness? It’s really exciting and a matter of choosing the right operas that won’t have you nodding off and drooling all of those velvet seats. Besides, the Tennessee Theatre has a full bar!
“Opera is a dead art form, so why go?”
– The fastest-growing opera audience in the U.S. now is people in their 20s and 30s and today’s composers are experimenting with opera to find new ways of keeping the art form alive.