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Nashville’s Most Inspiring Stories

The heart of our mission is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our communities. In the recent weeks, we’ve had the privilege to connect with some incredible artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with the incredible group below. Check out our favorite stories from across the Voyage family.

Paul Papillion

I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. I grew up in Pineville, Louisiana where enjoyed hunting, fishing, and playing any sport possible. I went to Pineville high school. I played football, baseball, and ran track. The school was pretty easy, so I put forth effort enough to get where I needed to go. I was voted most talented my senior year for what every that is worth. Pineville was a small town; My mother was homemaker and my father worked for Xerox. It was a simple life. After high school, I went to Northwestern State University on a football scholarship. I kept getting injured and after a year dropped football and moved on to track to do a decathlon. I was a biology major; I knew I wanted to go to medical school, so I tried hard. Read more>>

Brandt Cox

Jackie and I are professional chefs. We both have worked all around the country for some of the best chefs around. People such as Thomas Keller, Corey Lee, David Burke, John Besh, and Dan Barber. Throughout our professional careers, we began to gain a devout appreciation for the tools of our trade, especially our knives. While living in San Francisco, we became fast friends with the owner of a knife shop that just so happened to be on our block. His name is Galen and the shop is called Town Cutler. Jackie and I already had a deep appreciation for the Japanese culture while traveling throughout Southeast Asia a few years earlier. As professional chefs, we were very tired of buying our tools online without having a place to be properly educated about what we were buying or needed. Sometimes the best ideas are born out of necessity. Read more>>

Phil Hollie

My interest in music started at a very early age, I must have been around five or six when some of the first things I remember hearing were “wake up little Susie” by The Everly Brothers, “Blue Suede Shoes” by Carl Perkins, and “Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis. Hearing songs like these at that age was an eye-opener, and certainly opened the door to a wide variety of music that came before and after their time. Up to the age of eight, I was taking my first guitar lessons, which lasted weeks but would return at the age of eleven. I finally got my first guitar which would inspire many years of playing until it was destroyed in a car accident. I considered that moment to be the ending of one period of my life and the beginning of another. I got another guitar which inspired me much more to which I began to start singing and writing more heavily. Read more>>

Ryan Craig

I am a Singer-songwriter from Peotone Illinois, who is chasing dreams in Nashville, Tennessee. I first started my music journey a little over 3 years ago when I first picked up my uncle’s hand-me-down guitar. I swore that thing collected dust for years until I decided to give it a try and learn some cords. Like all musicians or anybody whos ever tried to play guitar at first, it can be frustrating! I remember once I learned G, C, and D, it started to come together. Thanks to the countless YouTube tutorials out there, I learned songs quickly. From there, I would attempt to do my first open mic and sing in front of people with only a handful of songs. I never have been more nervous in my life before doing that! Open mic got me hooked, I felt reborn and began to like that nervous feeling of playing covers and originals in front of a crowd. At the time, I was a college graduate and was working three jobs, that barely paid anything but I always found a way to make it to open mics at local bars. It was common for me to only have two hours’ worth of sleep before waking up to work my daytime shifts. Read more>>

Pedro Polanco

I was born in the Dominican Republic and came to New Jersey in the summer of 2002. I was already a professional Accountant in my country, but due to the language barrier, I have to work in a factory to be able to support my three children and my wife. In September of 2004, I moved to Nashville, TN searching for a better quality of life for my family, I worked in a Nissan factory and for a friend recommendation I went back to school to, in National College I meet the Accounting teacher, Jim Rabek who helped me to build my resume and get my first Accounting job at Kroger. After this job, I worked as an Accounting Manager and Analyst for multiple companies LKQ/ARAMARK, etc., in 2009, I created and small bookkeeper/Tax firm (TITI TAX ACCOUNTING SERVICE) This allow me to be financially responsible for multiple Spanish restaurants and get involved in the restaurant business. How I become the owner of the best Peruvian Restaurant in Nashville? I was the Accountant of the previous owner Marlon Cedillo and in October of 2019 he told me that wanted to sell the business. Read more>>

Travis Tidwell

I got my first professional music gig right after high school with Big Smo. We went on to play all over and had our own TV show on A&E for a couple of seasons. After I left the band, I got a gig with Ryan Upchurch and did more cool stuff with him, and eventually decided to go solo as an artist myself. Since then, I e been fortunate enough to gain an official sponsor from Shelby American Inc. and even got my own TT Edition Shelby Super Snake car in Switzerland, which was featured in Mustang Driver Magazine. I have had a wonderful experience thus far and hope it continues! I have been so blessed and done so many things that I couldn’t complain about even if I wanted to. Read more>>

Stoney Keeley

I grew up with a creative itch that I never quite knew how to scratch. I was aimlessly jumping around from project to project before I committed to writing in 2013, but when I did, it was a pivotal moment in my life. It took me 27 years to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, and because I got such a late start, I dealt with a lot of imposter syndrome early on. Sometimes, I read some of my older work and cringe at how much I tried to qualify myself as an authority instead of just letting loose and being myself. But, the biggest obstacle I’ve ever faced was just taking that first step and actually putting myself out there on the internet. I was fortunate enough to make some friends in the sports writing community right away, and they ended up helping me to get published on various platforms before I moved all of my chips to the middle of the table and went all-in on SoBros Network in 2017. Read more>>

Riley Mau

I’m a photographer and videographer, originally from Southern California. I have been using a camera since I was in Boy Scouts, earning a Cinematography Merit Badge. I actually stopped my *very short filming career* shortly after that, and continued to pursue music, being in the marching and jazz bands in high school. I came to Nashville in Fall 2016 to attend Belmont University, majoring in Audio Engineering Technology. Senior Year came in 2020, and I decided that audio wasn’t my true passion. I thought back to when I loved creating a short film for that Cinematography Merit Badge and decided to pursue photography/videography. So I changed my major, still able to graduate on time. During my last semester at Belmont, I created my company, Riley Mau Films. It was a rough start because of COVID, however, I love what I do, and no matter what happens, I will continue to pursue my passion for photography/videography. Read more>>

Sage Smith

I was raised on an Amish farm as a kid and when I left at the age of 21, I went into the construction business. While in the industry I reached out to a Realtor buddy from my CrossFit gym and asked him if he could help me find a home to flip. He invited me to his office and by the time I left had planted the seed in my mind to pursue real estate. After getting my license I worked in the real estate industry for about a year and a half. During that time, I was on the road a lot visiting my very large family and doing a lot of traveling. Obviously, this didn’t seem to sit well with my real estate schedule so After talking to my lender I made the decision to jump into the mortgage side of the industry. Super happy where I’m at now and really love it. Read more>>

Matthew Wade

My musical journey began when I was 18. I had a high school senior project where I learned how to play the guitar and wrote my first song. It was a big turning point in my life, as it was one of the first times I felt like I was choosing what I wanted to learn about and explore. Coincidentally, the song I wrote called “Side of the Road” was featured on the hit TV show One Tree Hill several years later and was one of my first big achievements. My Silent Bravery symbolizes inner strength, perseverance, persistence, and the ability to overcome obstacles. I have been dealing with a sports injury over the years and it is a challenge in my life and I continue to work hard to overcome that obstacle. I now try and inspire others to overcome their obstacles through the messages in my music. Read more>>

Windi Klemme

Our family was a homeschooling family. That defined much of how we lived our lives, just as being a public schooled family defines much of how other families lived their lives. Then on vacation, late summer of 2019, we visited an art studio in Panama City Beach, Florida and that changed everything. I could see myself and my family owning and running such a store in our hometown. Changing the trajectory of our family, my husband and I prayed for guidance, applied, and were awarded a Pinspiration franchise. What we hadn’t planned on was that within two months we would no longer be a home school family, something that had defined us for more than a decade and a half.  Read more>>

Ashley and R. Carnie Littlefield

We’re Ashley and R. Carnie Littlefield. We both have a background in graphic design, event management, and community-oriented projects. Before we were Maker’s Market Tennessee, we were Maker’s Market Texas serving our church and the creatives that lived in the Austin area prior to moving here in the spring of 2021. What started in the winter of 2018 as a fundraising idea for a church building fund blossomed into a fun family-oriented craft festival that has now been running for three years. We’ve been blessed to bring this concept to Tennessee even while helping our old church continue to run Makers Market ATX as a spinoff program of our events. We’re proud to say we’ve hosted events with more than 40 Makers in attendance. Read more>>

Tyler Summers

As a person in the music industry, it’s funny to look back. I compare it to hockey a little being a Canadian. If you stop to admire your past you get bodychecked into oblivion. The hustle takes to make it in this industry is very much like that. As soon as you aren’t looking to your next move, how to improve, or what new skills you can acquire to up your value, the next artist, composer, or musician is there to take your spot. My life feels a little like the life of Forrest Gump. I’ve climbed a lot of mountains in many facets of the industry and paid a lot of dues for which I am super grateful. Whether it was in the jazz world being honored as a Rising Star in Canada at the National Jazz Awards to playing as a sideman with Spoon on David Letterman during my years in NYC. Then there was the time I sang the Canadian National Anthem at the opening of the British Columbia Pavillion in Beijing. Read more>>

Steven Gerein

I got my professional start in the music scene around 2012. I was pursuing a bit of a solo music career, and came across an ad for some guy who was looking to start a country band – That “guy” is now one of my best friends! Fast forward a few years (I’ll spare you the band drama) and we had a SOLID group of musicians, some great songs, and an award-winning producer in the studio. We recorded 6 songs, released an EP, and 3 of those songs ended up charting on country radio in Canada – Oh! I should mention I am Canadian! One night before a show, I and my guitar player were chatting about finding some outside cuts for our next release. Seeing as we lived in a small city, we didn’t have any connections to publishers or anyone who could get us any pitches. We both said (almost at the same time) “I wish there was somewhere online we could just license songs from” and the idea for SongShop was born!. Read more>>

Ksenija Dmitrovic

I was born in 1997 in Serbia, a small country in southeast Europe that was part of former Yugoslavia. My country is a beautiful and very special place, but growing up there was never easy. It is well known that after many wars that started when Yugoslavia disintegrated and the Nato bombing in 1999, Serbia was not the most pleasant country to live in. Mine, like most Serbian families, were purely focused on bringing food to our tables, everything else was extra. I was lucky enough to find my first big love, tennis when I was very young. It really happened by accident, when my friend’s parents took me and her to the local public tennis courts so we could try it out. From that day I wanted to play tennis every single day, I would come back from school, and run out so I could hit a ball against the wall of my building. I played my first match when I was nine, and I made it to the finals. My father was the first who saw my talent and wanted to support me as much as he could. Read more>>

Jason Johnston

I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker very early on. Even as a child I always had a camera in my hand. I would make little movies with action figures and my dad’s consumer video camera. I was always humming some movie theme song by Williams, Goldsmith, or Horner. After high school, I got my first job as a video editor working on many hundreds of television commercials, then later I decided I wanted to try videography. I eventually started working on short films and music videos as a cinematographer and director. After a while of doing that for other people, I formed my company Fifty Oars Motion Pictures, and haven’t looked back. Read more>>

Christopher Maguire

I started cooking professionally while in my final year of high school in 2012. My mother’s car had broken down and she needed a ride into work. I drove her in and took a seat at the bar to get a meal before returning home. I heard the familial, uncensored chatter in the kitchen. The clanking of kitchenware, sizzling of hot pans, and food being put onto the flat top grill. It was my first time really appreciating the dynamic, respecting all of the moving parts that go into a traditional restaurant. It was then that I inquired about getting a job at that very same restaurant. I pestered the chef many times over the next few weeks as my mother attempted to get her vehicle back in working order. They finally appointed me a position as a fry cook, and I embraced it wholeheartedly. I was far from a natural. I put biscuits in the fryer when they were supposed to be oven-baked, forgot to turn on the fryer many times before the shift, etc. But after a while, I got the hang of the hustle and bustle of working in a very busy kitchen. Read more>>

Tim Freeman

My wife Estella and I moved to Franklin, TN in June 2021 from California. We love Tennessee and Southern hospitality. We have recently opened a Jiu-Jitsu gym 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu Nashville. I am the head instructor and owner along with my wife Stella of two Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academies – 10th Planet Nashville and 10th Planet Stockton. I started studying Jiu-Jitsu in 2005 and have continued since. I earned my black belt in 2016 and I received my first degree in 2019. I love all grappling martial arts and sports including Judo, Wrestling, Sambo, etc, I live in Franklin, TN with my wife Stella and my two sons Noah (18) and Nate (14). My wife Stella started training with me a few years ago and is a blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu. She manages the gyms and runs the Kids & Pee-Wees programs. Both of my sons started training at 5 years old and continue to train today. Read more>>

Josh Washam

I come from a musical family. Both retired now, my mom was a high school choir director and my dad was a high school band director. I grew up in Souderton, PA just outside of Philadelphia. I started out playing piano then moved to drums and then to guitar. I’ve been writing and recording original music since my early teens. I went to Berklee College of Music from 2007-2011 and majored in Music Production and Engineering so I could record I and friends’ music. I moved to Nashville in 2011 while playing in the duo rock band, Natural Forces. We self-produced and released 2 EPs and 2 full-length albums from 2011 to 2016 while playing shows in and around Nashville. In 2017, I recorded and released my first solo record ‘The Washam Machine.’ It was around then that I started to apprentice with Marty Macmillan at Macmillan Guitars, making ukuleles and guitars. Last April, I released my second solo record ‘Squash Blossom.’ I’ve gotten into hand screen printing shirts so there are plenty of custom “Squash Blossom” shirts floating around. Read more>>

Kj Davis

I am 20 years old born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. My story is quite all over the place but I’m so grateful for it. I began dancing at three years old but stopped for about four years to start gymnastics. Gymnastics will always hold a special place in my heart because I truly feel the competitiveness and dedication for that sport has me where I am today. Along with gymnastics I did other sports such as swimming, karate, ice skating, acting, competitive cheerleading, and modeling (I was a busy child). I then returned to competitive dance at the age of 10. I remember auditioning for a Kirk Franklin music video around that time, and that process was stressful, but I knew at that moment that this is what I wanted to do forever. In the midst of this all, I was still a competitive cheerleader at my school & my cheer gym. When I was 13, I was moved up to the varsity cheer team at my high school & was the youngest on my team. Once I got into high school, I became captain & choreographer for my team. Also, at age 13 is when I started taking dance seriously and fell in love with it all over again. I moved to a more competitive dance studio and the love grew stronger and the work I put into my craft grew as well. Read more>>

Meta Sundara

I recently moved from NYC to Nashville (originally from Toronto, Canada) – and came here to pursue music as well as contribute to the community here as an Alcohol Importer/Wholesaler! I have been writing and performing music for about a decade, have completed two albums, and also got into composing for independent film & media while in New York. I recently got into importing and wholesaling spirits/wine – and am looking forward to partnering with the local F&B and music community to see what can happen!. Read more>>

Matt Tucker

I picked up a guitar in 2008 after my son was born and I taught myself how to play while I was already working on my voice through a karaoke machine for fun. Six months later, I played my first gig. At 22 years old, this was my escape to be around my friends and make money while doing it. A few years later in 2013, after realizing my full potential and how much I’d fallen in love with music, I made my way to Nashville to record my first EP with producer, Pat Holt (Alabama, Johnny Cash, Waylon, Willie), and to network with other artists and writers. Through the years, I’ve kept those relationships. I’ve worked with management companies, a small label, big producers, big writers, I’ve had great highs and very low lows, all the while playing 150 plus dates every year, balancing family life, getting married, divorced, restructuring my family life and working during the week. Read more>>

Shey Green

I have been told all my life I could be a model, however, I never saw what everyone else saw. I spent years watching America’s next top model and always said I want to be just like them. The art in the photos wasn’t basic. I don’t see myself as a basic model. When I moved to Nashville 10 years ago I met a talented group of friends who started a business called Face the Troof; they did videos, movies, and photography and they got me into the game. They were my toughest critics however influential. To this day, they still help and guide me. I owe a big thanks to them for breaking me out of my shell. Read more>>

Caitlyn Jones

I grew up in a smaller town and I knew from a young age that I wanted to move to a bigger city. I’m from Hopkinsville, Kentucky so Nashville Tn. wasn’t too far of a move but still exciting nonetheless and I definitely worked hard to get here. I’ve had a passion for hair, makeup, and all things beauty really from the time I was a little girl I just didn’t realize this would end up becoming my career and that I would actually get to make a great living from it. I finally decided when I was eighteen that I would skip college and go straight to cosmetology school which was definitely challenging because I had been homeschooled all of my life. So, being in a structured environment and all that came along with it was kind of a shock (a miracle I made it through school haha) but couldn’t be happier with where I am today and where I see my career going. Read more>>

Tucker Caton

My entire business revolves around my love of cooking and creating. In the early 2000s, when I was in college I developed a love for all things cooking. I would constantly create something in the kitchen and push my boundaries with creativity and food preparation. Around that time, I found that barbecue was something that I enjoyed doing and was pretty good at, so I would continuously try to make a better barbecue rub. At a certain point, one of them stuck, and that later became our Classic Barbecue Rub. During that time, I also found a fondness for hot peppers which led me into making hot sauces and salsas. While I could handle some of the hotter peppers, most of my friends and family could not. This is when I began trying to incorporate hot peppers for their distinct flavors as opposed to their intense heat. Over the years we have developed several spice blends and barbecue rubs that focus on flavor instead of taste bud searing heat. Read more>>

Melody Hubbard-Robinson

I am the owner of The Melody LaSha Brand, the creator of Fierce Fearless Free Movement, and Sister in Success Brunch. I stepped into the realm of women empowerment seven years ago as a result of my personal struggle to identify my “special gift,” that unique reason I was created. I had no clue what my purpose was. Through prayer and determination, I soon discovered that I had the gift of speech. God revealed to me that my words would call women to their purpose. Identifying my purpose was not an easy journey. Because of my experience, I knew that I had a responsibility to help women navigate the path to purpose. Furthermore, helping them map out a strategic plan to operate in their purpose. I wanted to be what I wish I had when I was searching for a purpose. Utilizing my gift of speech, I seized and created opportunities to pour into women all over the country. Through live and online events, social media, courses, and coaching programs, I helped a plethora of women discover their purpose and operate in their calling. My reach soon became international with speaking opportunities as far as Tokyo, Japan. Read more>>

Brian Judon

When I first moved to Nashville, TN I was in the process of rebuilding my life. I had visions of expanding my music career, becoming a big-time actor, and owning my own business, I wanted to do it all. Little did I know God had a different plan for my life. Excited about exploring new opportunities I hit the ground running. I found a contract position for a Home Theater installation technician. It paid $12 an hour with the potential for full-time employment. After two weeks they ended the contract. They were looking for an experienced tech and I knew NOTHING about home theater work.Shortly thereafter I landed a job delivering mats and toiletries for $15 an hour plus commission. It was solid for two years then the recession hit. They were laying people off in groups like every month. By the third month, I was canned. I was living with my parents and needed income. No one was hiring. So, I got a job at Mcdonald’s making $7.50 an hour. I tried other ways to make money. I tried acting, creating music for local artists, djing local weddings and events. I even delivered phone books to people’s houses at night. Read more>>

Jerome Hill

My DJ career started when we had a block party at my dad’s church back in 2011, and I had an enormous catalog of Christian hip hop songs, so I volunteered to play the music. Little did I know that night I went home and said this is something that I want to do as a hobby, and here I am now I came up with the name DJ Rome which comes from a portion of my government name Jerome. Well, I actually called myself DJ Romey Rome, and the name was too long, and looking back, I’m not a big fan of the name (people love it). I also had a logo that I was looking to get done. Shout out to Robbie Hall for creating my logo and a DJ drop shout out to my guy DJ Rek for doing that as well. The name was too long for both of those, in my opinion. I’ve been djing ten years off and on. I had got married, and I pretty much quit, but once that ended, I asked myself why did I stop DJing. DJing is what I am good at, so after praying and talking with a few friends, I picked it back up, and I’ve been doing it ever since. Read more>>

Van Isaacson

Grew up in Northern Wisconsin before heading to Chicago to study music. My main focus at the time was violin but I was gigging around the city as a drummer, guitarist, and keys player as well. Throughout my time in Chi-Town I would make frequent trips to Nashville to work on music with Allison Mahal – an indie rock/pop artist. After 6 years in Chicago, I finally made the move to Nashville. During the pandemic, I started to set up a home studio in the new place. It was something I’d been wanting to do for a long time and I just never allowed myself to take that leap. I started out with my solo EP, a couple of Allison’s tunes, and a few Leah Jean (an amazing singer-songwriter, and my girlfriend) tunes to get things off the ground. I was starting to feel like I finally found my passion and realized that the art of bringing stories to life and guiding them through their creation is one of my favorite things in the world. Read more>>

Midwest Avenue

The band compromised of all family members which may be a rarity in today’s music landscape: Scott Joseph Phares (Vocals/Guitar), Steven Dale Vincent (Vocals/Fiddle/Banjo/Keys), and Scott R. Phares (Drums). The relation goes as follows: Scott Joseph Phares is the son of Scott R. Phares. Steven Dale Vincent is the second cousin of Scott R. Phares (third cousin of Scott Joseph Phares). Kicked off in 2009 with an Armed Forces Entertainment Tour to Honduras (Soto Cano Airbase) and the US Embassy in Bogota, Colombia for the 4th of July Celebration. From there when we returned home we began working on writing our own material as well as learning cover songs. Throughout 2010-2014 we played hundreds of shows throughout the Midwest region, in that time we won the Texaco Country Showdown, released our first EP (Red Wine). In 2015 & 2016 nominated for Songwriter of the Year at the Nashville Universe Awards. We took a brief hiatus to focus on life and as well as song personal music projects. Read more>>

Joseph Pitts

I and my family moved to Lebanon Tennessee from Palatka, Florida in the summer before beginning 8th grade. My dad had always had a shop and many vehicles which really sparked my interest in them and learning what I could myself about them. I personally gravitated toward trucks and the custom side, being able to create one-off vehicles with my personal ideas. I started creating these ideas with my dad throughout multiple trucks in high school improving upon each one, looks and value-wise. In doing so, I wanted to share what we had created and gone to shows and events. I see how many older car enthusiasts and clubs going to the same shows and events I wanted to view the young guys. And I knew that their views were not the case there’s some amazing younger guys with a huge passion and drive to do the same as me. I took notice of the increase in younger vehicle clubs and noticed the reputation/vibe surrounding them. In seeing this I felt I could change the view on young clubs and the stereotypes surrounding them. So, fresh off my first semester of college, finding out that wasn’t the route for me I decided to start a club. Read more>>

Cooper Greer

As I grew up there was always a guitar in my hands, my dad and great-grandmother both played, so I spent a lot of time as a child banging on their guitars. I got my first guitar at 9 and started to learn to play. I discovered songwriting around age 16 and started singing a little around 18. At the time, I wasn’t pursuing it as a career because I was into Rodeo and rode bulls on and off for a few years. During my time on the road, I gathered more experiences to write songs about. I started playing local gigs and it took off (I played over 100 shows my first year in) that’s when I started to take it seriously. I have been grinding away at it ever since. I have been managing, booking, writing, and performing as well as working a full-time job for the last 3 years. It’s a lot of work but at the end of the day, it’s nice to know you don’t owe anybody anything. I have a great group of guys playing with me and a great fanbase that supports the hell out of us. Read more>>

Heather Griffin

I first moved to the Nashville area in 2001 to take a job with a Franklin-based record company called Provident Music Group (a division of Sony Music Entertainment). I went from working as a production coordinator for the distribution company to A&R project coordination with the label group over the course of about eight years. I spent a lot of my time there trying to figure out what I wanted to do with myself. I liked the music industry and the people I met, but I didn’t really feel like I had a future in it. At some point, I started dabbling in freelance writing. I’ve always liked writing and my degree is in English, so I knew I wanted to do something involving words. I found out about a handful of local music publications (Fringe Magazine, Brite Revolution, Verbicide) that recruited local writers to interview artists and write feature articles. At first, I was really excited to be doing something creative. Interviewing the artists was always really intimidating and a little awkward for me, but when it came down to the actual article writing, I had so much fun. Read more>>

Desmond Lake

My photography journey came in a few different stages. My earliest exposure (ha… ha) to photography was when I was around 12 or so. We had a Time-Life book of famous photographs. ( the Tiananmen square “tank man”, the kissing sailor in Times Square, the struggling mother during the depression, etc.), I would spend hours looking through the book fascinated by the captured moments; some beautiful, some freighting, and some that would be burned into my mind to this day. Fast forward several years to around 2002-2003, my future wife Rebecca, was going to school for photography. Having an interest in photography myself, and wanting to be an amazing boyfriend, I wanted to show my full support and purchased her a new Nikon D70. It had a massive 6.1 MP sensor (haha!); one of the largest that could be purchased at the time if I remember correctly. I never really did mess with it much. I let Rebecca do all the photo stuff. Little did I know that I would later learn on that camera. Read more>>

Liv Cawley

I’m a recording artist born and raised in Boston, MA, and I moved to Nashville to attend Belmont University as a songwriting major. During school, I worked as an intern in music publishing for Rascal Flatts and Brothers Osborne, and since then I’ve grown and developed into my own sound and brand as an independent artist. My music has now been streamed in 80 countries and has been played on radio around the world. My goal has always been to write and release music that helps people get through hard times, and help them realize they’re stronger than they think they are. Read more>>

Callie McCullough

I was born in rural Ontario Canada third generation in a musical family. My parents were touring until I was a teenager, so I basically grew up backstage! By the time I was 14 I was out playing gigs of my own and spent about 10 years touring all over Canada, The United States in Europe in various bands. I moved to Nashville straight from a tour in California with a lemon of a station wagon and the goal to be a serious songwriter. I spent the first few years playing tip jar gigs and writing as many times a week possible with whoever I could. After years of being in bands, I started to write songs that felt like my own voice and figure out the solo artist I was going to become. With a handful of songs (out of the hundreds) that I felt like were really my own I started making this record, After Midnight, co-written with two of my best friends Ryan Sorestad and Scotty Kipfer, Produced by Dustin Olyan and featuring Grammy-winning Musicians from The Time Jumpers and Union Station. Read more>>

Han Blankenship

I was protesting in NYC With the Black Lives Matter Movement when I first decided to pick my camera back up. I realized this was something that was going to get swept under the rug, our kids and their kids won’t learn about it in schools. I chose to start bringing my camera and documenting the movement so that I could share it with as many people as possible. The beauty and the richness of so many diverse people coming together were awe-inspiring. My first project was entitled Many Bodies No Faces, and showcased many of the people along the front lines of the movement—people who were out there despite violence from the police, despite covid, despite fear. It was documenting the protests and capturing so many people’s spirits that led me to portrait work. Since then I have worked with many models, performers, and friends on collaborative shoots all around NYC, Chicago, and now Nashville. Read more>>

Marcus Peters

I am originally from Nashville, Tennessee I had moved to Fremont, Ohio when I was in early middle school but growing up I had always been fascinated with art I would always just draw my own cartoons it came to a point I made my own superhero’s and made my own comic books and remade my favorite anime “Naruto”. It was all about being a cartoonist until I was about in 7th grade that’s when I got my first phone and started recording songs on there I always wanted to pursue rapping as a career growing up but never knew until 7th grade that it was possible after I recorded at least 4 songs that night terrible quality it was just me rapping into a small Motorola phone speaker over a beat I would play over my laptop but once I released them songs you would’ve sworn I just won a Grammy by how excited I was I went to school the after that weekend I got hit hard by reality every kid in my class listened but they all said it was terrible. Read more>>

Jon Mullins

Growing up in a musical family, it was almost like being a musician was built into my DNA. My father played trumpet when he was in high school and I followed in his footsteps as soon as I was able to take a music class in middle school. The moment I started playing music, I knew it would be a huge part of my life moving forward. Throughout my childhood, my family would travel to multiple churches for my mother to sing. My sister picked up singing at an early age and excelled quickly. I didn’t start singing until high school when I auditioned for an all-male Acapella group. Soon thereafter, I got a guitar. I took guitar lessons for about 3 months until my teacher told me that he had taken me as far as he could, but there was one thing left to teach. He said, “I’m going to teach you how to write a song. I believe you have it in you.” I wrote my first song… and the rest was history. Throughout the rest of my high school career, I continued playing trumpet, guitar, singing, and writing songs upwards of 4-5 hours a day. My life was consumed with music. Read more>>

Alecia Hunter

I started my entrepreneurial journey in 2017 when I got certified to do lash extensions. I wanted to set myself apart from other lash techs and I knew in TN you need a license to legally do lashes, so I started looking up different licenses that I would be able to work under, which was cosmetology and esthetics. I did not want my cosmetology license because I am not good with hair and knew that I really didn’t have any interest in taking that route. Before this search for licenses I did not know what an esthetician was, I knew about dermatologists but not estheticians. After doing my research I was actually interested in the curriculum that was taught for esthetics and I had plans to do lashes and makeup when I left school. Once I was in school (2019), I fell in LOVE with giving facials. I had gotten great reviews from the clients that would come to the school to get treatments and this is where my journey began. Read more>>

Lindsey Mulligan

The self-care/beauty industry has always held my interest throughout various seasons of life. I really gained momentum experimenting with beauty products as a pre-teen; my free time involved analyzing the different purposes, textures, scents, and feel of my mother and grandmother’s luxury products, and provided me with a Zen-like mental escape. The beauty industry has also provided me with a steady 17-year-long career path. Despite having earned Bachelor’s degrees in both psychology and anthropology, I have always been heavily involved in both the salon and medical spa industries. Holding positions that have naturally evolved from receptionist to management and business development. Just prior to my relocation from Denver three years ago, I served as the VP of a large salon suite company. When Covid forced the country into a lockdown, the brick-and-mortar salon industry was faced with an unpredictable future as the art of professional hairdressing came to a sudden and unwanted halt for both patrons and providers alike. Read more>>

Renee Waniolek

My little shop has literally been 35 years in the making and I came into this world loving the arts + fashion. Having a store allows me to do everything that I am good at and love! Before I launched this store I was working in Entertainment until I lost my job in December 2020 and I kid you not we launched East + Eighties in February 2021 on my 35th birthday. I was talking about really launching this store with my sister and I asked her if she wanted to help me with it. She already has her photography business and is a little more grounded than me and I am more of the free-spirited one, so it was really helpful to have her join me. And she found out that she really loves it!. Read more>>

Mikey and Cindy Campobasso

We met in 2014 and quickly discovered the synchronicities of our lives crossing. Since graduating from Boston College in 2007, Cindy had been managing a family real estate investment portfolio just outside Boston, MA. She oversaw and handled all the day-to-day company management, was involved with asset management, procurement, development, and construction. Mikey had been in construction and development management since he was in high school, through college, and beyond. He started learning carpentry in his grandfather’s barn at age four. Along with having his career where he oversaw construction projects for one of New England’s largest construction companies, he was also flipping homes on his own. Mikey joined the family company in 2017. In 2018, while running that company we also began our own company called Boston Building Contractors to help with the construction and development. In October of 2020, after completing a development project together for the family business, we decided to change up our lives in search of better weather, with hopes of a beautiful work/life balance, and moved to Nashville. Read more>>

Rachael Mann

I started to sing at the age of seven. It was a gift that I did not ask for nor did it run in my family. I literally woke up one morning and started singing. I remember my first solo was singing the line from “The 12 Days Of Christmas” (“Seven Swans A Swimming”). Because I loved it so much, I ended up spending hours and hours in my room with a karaoke machine singing to tracks and making up songs. I got my start singing at church and school plays and it progressed to singing in recording studios and local television and local television channels. When I moved to Birmingham, Alabama, that is when my music career progressed even further. I worked on my first solo project, “Unbelievable Love”, and from the release of that album, I was able to open for Kirk Franklin, Jars of Clay, Salvador, and more. When I moved to Nashville in 2010, even more doors opened, including some acting opportunities which included the television show “Nashville” and a few re-creation stories for “The 700 Club”. I also worked on several music projects as well as singing with Carrie Underwood for the CMT Awards. Read more>>

Royce Massengill

After graduating college from The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, majoring in Radio and Television Production, I moved back to Tennessee to team up with my childhood friends to start our own production team. For a handful of years, we produced and directed some of Nashville’s prominent artists and business people from Soulja Boy to JellyRoll. After being a service to others, we decided to invest in ourselves and began a series of film work that have been awarded many accolades recently. From those works with my team, in 2019 I decided to fulfill my radio dreams by starting my own podcast called “Royce’s Rant”, a live podcast where I and guests speak on social, political, historical, and economic issues in our communities. Read more>>

 

Karin and Göran Eriksson

Thyra is a duo with two well renowned Swedish musicians and songwriters, Karin Thyr and Göran Eriksson. This husband and wife duo creates a unique sound when their voices blend and they allow themself to be inspired and influenced by different genres. You might not have heard of them but chances are you have heard their music. With millions of streams and listeners all over the world both their unique version of Robyn’s “Dancing on my own” and Katy Perry’s “Firework” has gotten them a gold and platinum record as well as their own hit single “Since you been gone” For years this dynamic duo has brought their guitars and kids across the Atlantic ocean to seek inspiration and write music in Nashville. They both call Nashville their second home and are grateful for the warm welcome, the music, and the beautiful friendships the town has given them. Read more>>

Cale Maloney

I’m a photographer new to the Murfreesboro, TN area. I started photography almost 6 years ago for a school assignment (almost grudgingly), and I had a friend beg me to continue pursuing it. After I began my own photography company, I quickly realized how much I adored couples, and how fun engagement shoots and weddings were. While I was exploring the wedding photography market, I also opened up to concert photography, and have been working with bands and artists for the past couple of years. Now, I often find myself flexing some creativity muscles with every shoot, ensuring unique and personal perspectives with every session, so every moment can be captured and cherished for years to come. Read more>>

Jeffrey Keever

I began my interest in classical from a very young age. Growing up in a musical family, there was always music playing throughout the house. We would always partake in musical experiences, whether that be going to a concert, singing in a choir, taking music lessons, or listening to our favorite pieces together as a family. When the time came to decide my career, I immediately knew I wanted to do something in music. Most of my family were music teachers of all ages, so initially, I looked into music education. However, I was drawn to a different side of music – performance. Throughout middle and high school, I studied trumpet primarily, but also had played the string bass in the orchestra and sang in multiple choirs, although I had always had a passion for conducting. After auditioning at music schools around the country, I decided to go to the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University. While at Vanderbilt, I had a multitude of opportunities to increase my musical experiences through national and international relations and programs. It was while I was in Vienna, Austria that I first studied conducting in a private setting and that I knew that I wanted to conduct for my career. Read more>>

Toria Richings

My story began when I was 11 years old, my dad, Barry had got his guitar down from our loft and I was instantly intrigued, he began to teach me The Carpenters’ song “Top of The World”, I felt instant love for the guitar and wanted to learn more! My brother Jason who was massively into all sorts of music played me Queens Bohemian Rhapsody. I was transported. I had never heard anything like it, from there, I decided I wanted to learn the guitar and play Queens songs! My mum Margaret bought me a Queen music book I spent the next 12 months locked away in my bedroom only merging once I could play every song! I then got really into Joan Baez and Neil Young (I know very different to Queen) but I loved the way their songs seem to tell a story; this is when I first began songwriting! I spent the next few years writing lots and learning new styles. When I was 17, I started playing live gigs in all the local pubs including my own songs when I could, they were always received well! I fell in love at 18 with my husband Ross, we built a life together and a little family Gracie and Connor. Read more>>

Paxton Harris

I am currently a 17-year-old homeschooled junior. My love for photography started in 7th grade. I had mentioned an interest to my mom, and being the supportive mom she always has been signed me up for photography classes with Al Ashworth at his print shop. At the time I did not have a real DSLR camera, so for my birthday, my mom bought me a camera. I started shooting just with some friends here and there, then joined my local Wilson County Photography Guild. After several months of shooting my friends, I created my photography page on Instagram, @paxtonlynnphotography. By building some followers on that account I started booking more shoots for lots of different portraits. Moving forward, in college I plan to major in business and minor in photography. Read more>>

Rydell “Super” Mayes Jr

I first walked into a boxing gym with my dad at 15. We always spent a lot of time watching boxing and I wanted to try the sport out. Over the next 10 years, I was in and out of the sport while pursuing other sports graduating college working and raising my kids. In 2015, due to an altercation the year prior I was indicted for aggravated assault and received a 6-year probation sentence with a diversion to remove the charge from my record which I complete December 18, 2021. Looking back on it now, I know that case saved my life. It slowed me down from the wild path I was on. Soon after being charged, I got back into boxing to redirect my focus which lead to being making my professional boxing debut on 7/28/2018 winning by 2nd round KO. This gave me new life and purpose. In the midst of my boxing career, I’ve gained a record of 12 wins 11 by KO opposite only 1 lose and winning the USBF National Heavyweight Title as well as the USBF Intercontinental Cruiserweight Title fighting in 6 states so far. Early on, I decided to use my popularity and influence to make a positive impact on mine. Read more>>

Samuel Escoto

When I was 16, I was inspired to work at the Green Hills Kroger as a cashier. I didn’t need to work, but I felt the urge to explore the world and meet people from all walks of life. I also felt the need to help during the pandemic, so I pressed my endeavor on. Being there, I met many new friends and met several new people. Famous or poor I learned that we all have a common friend- each other. Of course, the difference is in applying that. Soon after, however, I decided to help my friend in a Pickup department where we were both leads. He was 23 and I was 17. We never always saw eye to eye and the pandemic only added to the limitations of two young people running the best department in the district on their own. As unfortunate as it is, we both quit that department and walked our separate paths. I am happy to still work at Kroger as a cashier as they are still severely short of staff these days. Read more>>

Sam Anto

I was born and raised in Kerala, India, and earned a Master’s degree in Business administration from University of Madras. I started my career in marketing in 1997 and two years later transitioned into business development for an IT company. Building on my experience in business development I founded a boutique software development firm in Bangalore and ran it until moving to America in 2005. Read More>>

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