Gary James' Interview With
Caroline Kole

She's released four, count 'em, four CDs of all original music and she signed with SONY / ATV in Nashville. She's opened the show for Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, Blake Shelton and Alan Jackson. She's performed in Australia, Fiji and Ireland. Besides being a singer, she's also a guitarist and endorsed by Martin Guitars. And she's only fifteen years old!

Q - Do you come from a musical family? Where do you get all this musical talent from?

A - I tried to trace it back. My grandmother's father was an orchestra leader and that's kind of the only music thing actually in my family. So, it's kind of interesting that it goes that far back, but all I know is that I love it.

Q - That's important.

A - Exactly.

Q - How did you land a deal with SONY?

A - I'm with SONY / ATV Publishing. They had heard a lot of my music. Through Narvel (Blackstock, Reba McIntire's husband / manager) and they offered me a publishing contract, a publishing artists development deal. I currently have a record deal with Starstruck Records, which is Reba McEntire's label.

Q - She has her own label?

A - Yes sir!

Q - How many people does she have on her label? Are you the only one?

A - I could be, but I'm pretty sure it's just Reba and myself.

Q - That means you got special treatment.

A - Yeah! How about that? (Laughs)

Q - When you're on the road with Reba or Alan Jackson or whomever, can you go to these people and say, "I'd like my own person to run the spotlight," or "I'd like my own soundman"?

A - For the most part, the people they have on their tours are very competent and are amazing. So whenever I'm offered an opportunity such as performing with Reba or Alan, I use their people. I haven't even thought to ask to bring somebody else because these guys are so comfortable with the equipment they're using in these stadiums and arenas, so I just trust them.

Q - When you open for the people you've opened for, do you realize what they've done? Do you realize how celebrated they are?

A - Yes. It's a real blessing to be able to share the stage with these people for sure.

Q - You performed overseas. Is that through Reba's people?

A - Not through Reba's people, no sir. That was on our own. Reba has brought us to Canada. (Laughs)

Q - How did you happen to go to Australia, Fiji and Ireland?

A - We were going there for family purposes and the performances just kind of sprung up as we were there.

Q - Where did you sing in front of 30,000 people?

A - Well actually, I kind of started playing the local bars and restaurants and festivals when I was about nine, ten, eleven, twelve. Shortly after that I started playing for thousands, but it's a real treat every single time in front of every large group of people. The energy is amazing and it gives me something to feed off of for sure. I'm really lucky to be able to perform in front of large groups of people for the past three years now.

Q - So, it didn't scare you? You were already prepared?

A - Yes. I mean, we're all people. It's really exciting every time. The bigger the better. It's a fun thing. I always get the pre-show jitters, like excitement. Five minutes before show time, it's like, oh my gosh, it feels like hours.

Q - You don't go to a public school, do you?

A - I do.

Q - Do the other kids know what you do? Do they ask what's Alan Jackson like? Or what's Reba like? Do the teachers say anything to you?

A - I don't tell anybody. I don't advertise what I'm doing. I never have. I don't want to be that girl the comes to school and says "Guess what I did?" In my eyes it's pretty cool. Someone else might not want to hear it. Some people do know and they're always pretty curious.

Q - Would that be other students or teachers?

A - Students and a few teachers.

Q - What do they ask you? Some of the questions I'm asking you?

A - Yeah, and when's the next show? They're always looking to come to the next show.

Q - Do they ask you what it's like to make a record? Or have a publishing deal? Those are things that people dream of. Or, what's it like to go into a recording studio? You don't get those questions?

A - They ask me what it's like to record. They think it's pretty cool that I record. Nothing ever in-depth as that. Those are really good questions though. (Laughs). I wish they would ask those.

Q - Do you have your own band or does Reba's band back you when you're with her?

A - I have my own guys. I have my own band.

Q - How many guys?

A - Five, but recently we've been doing trio stuff, myself, another guitarist and a percussion player.

Q - Does your mother, who is also your co-manager, go on the road with you?

A - She's my mom. She's got to make sure I'm not up to anything crazy. A 15-year-old can get pretty rowdy.

Q - Is your father involved in your career as well?

A - He is, but he's like any other hard-working dad. He has a job to maintain, so he has to keep up with that. We'll always call him whenever I'm about to go on or when I come off stage. He's there a lot of the time though. As often as he can be.

Q - Brothers or sisters?

A - I have one younger sister. She is a freaking amazing athlete. (Laughs).

Q - Nothing musical?

A - No. Although she sings along to every song. (Laughs).

Q - Well, that's a start.

A - Yeah. It's really encouraging to look down and see your sister singing your song.

Q - How did you get Martin Guitars to endorse you?

A - Oh, goodness, that's all a little fuzzy. I've had an endorsement deal with them for so long. They're such amazing people. They've had me out to NAM, the music festival in Anaheim, California and I've played their factory in Pennsylvania. They're such amazing people. I'm real blessed to be in with them. It's an amazing guitar.

Q - Maybe they'll name a guitar after you.

A - That's what I have in my dreams. That would be awesome.

Q - Let me be the first to put that out there.

A - Well, I appreciate that. I'm going to run that by them. I'm going to say "This guy says I can get my own guitar."

Q - Does Reba have her own guitar? I don't know, does she even play guitar?

A - I'm not even sure.

Q - After you graduate high school, is it your intention to pursue a career in music and not bother with college?

A - Well, it really depends on what the situation is at that moment. Should it call for something like that, I'm more than willing to jump on that train and go back to the college thing. Really the field I'm in, you can't really plan a whole ten year thing out. Education is very important to me, so we'll just make it work whatever the schedule happens to be.

Q - I'm just thinking about the next three years for you.

A - That is an excellent question. I'm still trying to figure out what I'm doing tomorrow though. (Laughs). On June 4th (2013) I'm releasing a single to iTunes. It's called "Money To Me" and I'm super excited about it. Soon my music will be available for digital download.

Q - You are coming to the New York State Fair on August 25th (2013) with Reba, but your website lists as coming to Syracuse N.Y. for a private event in June. What would that be for?

A - That is an excellent question. It is such a private event that I'm not actually sure. All that I know is I'll be there and looking forward to performing.

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