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Portraits of Nashville

It’s more important to understand someone than to judge them. We think the first step to understanding someone is asking them the fundamental questions about who they are and how they became the person they are today. Understanding and empathy are essential building blocks for a better, more compassionate world. We’re incredibly fortunate to be able to ask these questions each week through our interview series. Below you’ll find inspiring interviews from in and around Nashville.

Destiniy Bullis

My dreams to support mother’s throughout the childbearing year began shortly after the delivery of my second born. I had a traumatic experience with my first born, and I experienced severe postpartum depression. However, my second born I had an amazing support system with my water birth at the Birthing Center. I hired a doula, took a phenomenal birthing class, had a birth photographer (who also was actively encouraging me throughout my labor and delivery). Read more>>

Kelly Sutherland

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an endless supply of opinions, particularly when it comes to aesthetics and how things should be done! I am an unusual mix of right and left brained so when I began my career as a project manager in marketing, my right brain was completely unsatisfied. Moving to a new city with my husband inspired me to make a major career change and pursue interiors. The type A, project management side of me loved how detail oriented the work was, while the aspect of coordinating pattern, texture, color and scale satiated my creative side. Read more>>

Katie (Your Plant Lady) Iarca

I spent the better part of two decades traveling the world with a corporate job in the education sector training people to grow their confidence in new skills. Right after I had my first child, I moved to the Nashville area not knowing a single person. I began suffering heavily with postpartum depression and made the choice to leave my career and focus on my family and my mental health. Read more>>

Sandra Ventura-Benitez

I grew up with a camera in my hand and always being creative. Growing up in New York and moving to Nashville was a big transition. Because most of our family was upstate. When we moved to Nashville, I always took photos of my family, the only subjects I had. It’s funny now because my family would ask, “Sandra, what do you want to be when you grow up?” I would always respond and say, “an artist!” As I got older, I maintained that dream to be an artist and pursue higher education. In high school, I started volunteering with diverse organizations whose mission was to empower the Latino community.  Read more>>

Vivien Mildenberger

My love for drawing started when I was very little. I remember reading stories and brimming with so much excitement and energy from being transported to worlds fantastical and tantalizing. I wanted to hold on to and cherish that feeling long after all the pages were turned. The only way my child brain knew how to release this built up energy was to draw! I wanted to visualize what these amazing, far away places looked like. Read more>>

Connor Donnelly

Hello! My name is Connor Donnelly, possibly better known by my artist name, Conbleez, and I am a Nashville based Musician/Entrepreneur. I am originally from Ann Arbor Michigan, but I’ve been living in Nashville for about 5 years. I’ve always had music in my life; learning new instruments and freestyle rapping with friends, but eventually I decided I wanted to make entertainment a career. Read more>>

Ainsley Britain

My move to Nashville in 2011 was spontaneous and quick, deciding on a Friday and arriving two days later on a Monday. I had visited once, MAYBE twice, but I felt the call to move, so move I did. It was the place I learned the most about myself, my passions and my faith. I was 19 when I made the move so I was looking for a college to finish my degree in. I literally just applied to the first one that popped up on Google, which happened to be Belmont University. I graduated there and embarked on my career of writing shortly after! “Hearts and Rockets” was my first self-published book and I’m now working on a book with David C. Cook called, “Don’t Date a Boo Boo Dude.” Read more>>

Derrick Matthews

I grew up in Antioch, a suburb of Nashville, Tn. I attended Middle Tennessee State University and graduated with a Bachelor in Business Administration while majoring in Computer Information Systems. Some of my fondest memories as a child were summer and holiday road trips with the family. Whether it was the beaches of Florida or the deserts out west, we all looked forward to being out of school and work. I definitely wanted to continue this into my adulthood. So, after graduating MTSU, my two favorite hobbies started to develop. Travel and food. As a matter of fact, I believe my love for food blossomed from my travels. Read more>>

Pat Long

Connor Stith and I met and formed a blues rock band called Mo Pie back in high school. We played in that band for 5 years, but eventually craved something different. Once that band dissolved in 2017, we formed The Low Blow with hopes of chasing a more neo-soul sound. As we began to play more shows in Nashville and met members of the DIY/alternative rock community, we began to incorporate aspects of that into our sound. We settled on our current line-up of members at the end of 2020 and set our sights on releasing our second EP “Hurting, Healing.” This EP is the closest the sound we have been chasing since the band’s inception and features our best performing song to date “Sooner”. Read more>>

Nikki Burdine

I attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and majored in journalism. I knew I wanted to be in TV news – but I didn’t know exactly in what capacity. I am also pretty stubborn and was initially unwilling to move to a small town for my first tv job, something that’s usually standard (or at least back then!) in the news business. I moved to Washington, D.C. and worked for the then-Redskins football team’s radio station, ESPN Radio. I have always loved DC and wanted to live in a big city in my early 20’s. I did random production work, sales work, operated the board overnight and even worked as a receptionist. Needless to say, it wasn’t what I wanted to do. Read more>>

Doug Leonard

I grew up in Santa Cruz, California. I started playing guitar at 7. Junior year of highschool, after getting in a bit of trouble, I wrote and recorded my first songs. They were raps. I burned CDs and passed them out at school out of my backpack. Music was always me, but I’d spent most of highschool as an athlete. After graduation I went to school up in northern California at Chico State as a Kinesiology major. I wanted to train athletes and own a gym. I spent the year outside of the gym, writing songs and teaching myself to sing. I knew it was time to change direction. Read more>>

Trevor Finlay

I’m originally from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and I was one of the ones that knew what I wanted to do from the first time I picked up a guitar when I was 9yrs old. I played my first professional gig when I was 15, I released a few albums and toured all over, but I got restless. I ended up coming to Nashville for the first time kind of spontaneously and it totally surprised me. I was meeting musicians and songwriters everywhere I went and I felt like I was at home. I had a meeting with a publisher who insisted I come back sooner than later, which I did and it was on that trip that I decided to move. My third visit was to find a place to live and my fourth was with a u-haul. Read more>>

Olive Jolley

I started really taking photography seriously in about mid-December last year, but I’ve always loved it. I picked up my mom’s old cameras from when she was a photographer previously and just started going to shows in Nashville and Atlanta on the weekends, taking pictures whenever I could. I knew virtually nothing about the art at the time. I sat down and watched hours of videos and took notes on lighting, composition, camera settings, and anything that would help me be more comfortable with the art. Every single second of my free time was used for editing and taking photos. Read more>>

Jarriel McGhee

Well initially I began writing in middle school. It started off with spoken word pieces and eventually grew into verses. I was apart of my middle school marching and concert bands so I’ve really always been accustomed to sounds and cadences. The experience helped me experiment with different styles and flows over the years. Shortly after, I met my producer, Enrique1x, and other members of my camp when I started high school. We the mixcraft recording program and a microphone and had to figure everything out ourselves. Read more>>

Celeste Kellogg

I grew up in a small town in Southeastern Virginia. I started singing in Church Choir when I was 6. When I was 12, I auditioned for a Radio Disney group and was fortunate enough to perform with them for a year. We opened for the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, the Cheetah Girls, Raven and performed at a Kelly Clarkson Concert. At the age of 14 I attended a Camp in California called “School of Pop” and met music producer Andrew Lane. He realized how serious I was about country music and said “We need to take this to Nashville.” Read more>>

Britney Jones

I have been doing hair since I was about 8 years old. I started with dolls, then started doing my own hair, then friends & family. After high school I went to Tennessee State University where I graduated in 2011 with a degree in Business Administration with a minor in Entrepreneurship. Shortly after, I enrolled in cosmetology school. After graduating cosmetology school, I know I did not want to immediately open a salon because I had no clue how to! Read more>>

 James Hudson

When I was honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corps I went to work for my father-in-law who owned a small cabinet shop. When he decided to retire I decided to take the knowledge of woodworking that I had learned and take a leap out on my own and create my own wood working business. I came up with the idea for the company by asking myself, what would I want to buy? I decided that what better way to earn a living than by creating and selling the symbol that means the most to me. From there Hudson Flags & More was born. Read more>>

Niya Toms

While working full time in Healthcare IT company, I became inspired by my then boyfriend Abraham Toms who worked for himself. I became inspired and motivated to identify a need within our community and start a business. Fast forward to 2016, we were engaged & it all stared with a singe dress: my own. I wanted to find a more modern silhouette for my wedding day. The options I found the were limited to either traditional or boho dresses. Read more>>

Neisha Simpson

I am a native from St. Louis, Missouri, and holds Bachelor’s in Psychology and an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Fisk University. I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology at Tennessee State University. As a young girl, I witnessed domestic violence and unfortunately experienced sexual assault later in her college years. This tragic experience empowered me to give victims a voice, a choice, and a chance to reclaim their power and control. Read more>>

Daniella Stowe

I started with the idea of just making extra income. I had personally been praying for something more for my life and as time went by after starting my business I realized that there’s so much more to starting a business than making extra money. The community we built, the example I’m setting for my family, and the people who dreams are tied to my dreams. Read more>>

Herman Blacksmith

I’ve always had to make sacrifices my whole life. I grew up in a rough area of East Nashville, Tennessee. My mother was a single mother, working two jobs, with five children. We lived in a three-bedroom home and often wondered if ends would be met. Life felt very hard for us. At thirteen years old I had the opportunity to move in with my best friend, who I now consider my brother, Eli. Living with his family provided me with different opportunities, which led to me furthering my education at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Read more>>

Olivia Estelle

I am an intuitive astrologer and a past-life regression therapist here in Nashville, TN. I started out here as a student at Belmont, majoring in musical theatre. I loved the freedom that the arts gave me, it fed my creative soul. But I was not a “performer,” per se. I always wanted to be, but it wasn’t a perfect fit, and my confidence levels struggled. I craved authenticity and I wanted to heal people, I just had no idea how, as being onstage didn’t seem to be my personal medicine. Finding what my purpose was – my personal brand of “medicine” for the world – became my focus. Read more>>

Imani Blackburn

I started baking for my family back in 2010 for the holidays. I started off with learning how to do basic pies such as pecan, chess, and sweet potato. Then I started making a Heath bar cake which became a fan favorite and everyone wanted one. It wasn’t until I went on a girls trip to Miami in 2018 when of the girls started asking me questions about baking and asked me if I had business cards because she wanted to pass them out. I told her I didn’t have any but I will get them to to her once we get back from the trip. Once returning home I came up with my business name Sweet Ashe’s. Ashe’ is my middle name. I found someone to do my logo and I got my first set of business cards printed off. This was the start of Sweet Ashe’s. Read more>>

Janet Cox

Janet & Charles are an Americana (heavily infused with comedy) duo who’ve been plying their trade since the late 80s. They have fronted or opened for acts such as The Flying Burrito Brothers, John Anderson, Ricky Scaggs, Gary Morris, Lee Greenwood and others too numerous to go into here. It’s been a long career. They also took 3 decades off to actually get paid to work for a living. Janet ran a chain of dance studios and Charles had a career selling television advertising for various NBC, CBS, ABC and cable concerns. In the meantime they made time to play in various bands on weekends, built their own studio (Red Barn Recording) and produced an album which they released independently called “Ten Penny Opera”. Read more>>

Allyson Lang- Taylor

I started finding a passion for braiding hair around the age of 10. First it was watching youtube videos in my room and practicing on myself for the new styles that I wanted, over time as people around me saw my work progress I began doing my family’s hair and then friends. By the time I reached high school I knew that Cosmetology was something I wanted to take seriously so I decided to apply for cosmetology school to do half of my school days at Webster Groves High School and the remaining half day at Cosmetology school learning and preparing to get my license. Read more>>

Joseph P. Day

Joseph is a dedicated public servant and has a wide range of experience from working in various roles for the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office. Joseph is currently the Chief Deputy of Public Relations and Employee Development for the Circuit Court Clerk of Davidson County. Starting as a summer intern in 1997, Joseph developed a passion for working in the public sector. He transitioned in the organization from deputy clerk to training coordinator and helped establish procedures for each department. Read more>>

Tania Smith

I’m a professional musician, energy healer & jewelry designer dedicated to helping people find lasting happiness and well being while pursuing their dreams, which is why I founded Rainbow Lovina Healing Arts. I was born in Tasmania, which is a heart shaped island state at the bottom of Australia, and grew up pursuing MY dream of music as a profession that led me to work with some of Australia’s biggest artists as a session and touring keyboard player and singer. Read more>>

Sergio Michel

My story starts when I was a four year old boy in New Jersey. I had seen Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth on MTV and decided that going to Hollywood; and being a great guitarist and front man was what I wanted to be. I also had a great interest in acting, writing, history, martial arts and production. I studied movies and media very closely my entire childhood and gathered a lot of knowledge on the ins and outs of the music business. Read more>>

Karen Shayne Lorna Dancey

The UNTOLD team of Karen Shayne and Lorna Dancey began in 2019 through the introduction of a mutual friend who witnessed two powerful visionaries from different countries sharing the same passion for storytelling. Karen Shayne of Nashville, Tennessee, is in media publishing and production. A cancer survivor, Karen had primarily worked with cancer survivorship and finding the amazing and courageous stories of survivors. With countless awards and featured in numerous magazines, Karen’s passion for finding human-interest stories has now led her around the world to find and share stories that inspire and motivate. Read more>>

Darius Bagwell

My name is Darius Bagwell from Clarksville, TN. I grew up in a single parent household with my two younger brothers where our mother put us in basketball, loved playing video games, and hanging out with friends. After high school, I went to college where I graduated with my bachelor’s in marketing from Austin Peay State University. I’m married to my beautiful wife DeAsia and we have a beautiful daughter Kenzie. Read more>>

Anna Baaro

I’ve been around music my whole life, my parents constantly played different music and my dad has been in bands since his college years, so I was raised to love music. I wrote my first song when I was 8 about my dog with a tiny acoustic guitar, I remember I called my Grandma to show her and for a while that was the only song I wrote. When I was 10, I started getting serious about writing songs and became obsessed. I wrote about boys, friends, school, the general life of a 10 year old girl. Read more>>

Oliver Isenberg

I have always been a huge fan of music. I grew up in choir and performing around texas in show groups or on my own wherever I could. That being said, I never took it very seriously. I would show up for rehearsal but never practice on my own time. I was also heavily involved in sports and thought that was the route my life was going to take. Around 8th or 9th grade, my buddy Evan Barnes introduced me to Logic Pro X and I began to fall in love with producing music. The community feels underground, but its people are all extremely friendly. The quest for a perfect sound is an everyday adventure my buddies and I get to experience daily. Read more>>

Mandy Moon

I’m a transplant like many Nashville musicians. My artist name/project is called Mandy Moon. I write soul music with my style crossing over and blending with many genres (R&B, jazz, funk, rock). Im also a classically trained vocalist. The beginning of my origin story starts in Bangkok, Thailand. My mom being Thai and my dad being an American working overseas. I moved to the United States when I was just 6 years old. I discovered music at a really young age. I’d say almost as young as 3-4 years old from my dad’s records being played around the house; or tapes when they did exist. Singing to me came natural and I picked it up as part of my way of expressing myself. I lived in New Orleans for 6 years up until I was about 15. Read more>> 

Dechari Cole

Staring at my reflection in the bathroom mirror, I asked my newly married self, “How do I share my story?” That was the day my heart whispered, “You’re going to write a book.” For a split second I smiled at the dream, but in the next moment cringed in fear of the unknown. “I don’t know how to do that. I can’t do that,” I thought. The destination is what our heart envisions, but rarely can we fathom the brave steps it will take to reach that place. We find, though, the journey itself is really the sweet place where many baby steps of faith till the ground to overcome our doubt and fear. Planting seeds in faith and hope cause blossoms of inspiration to emerge and a deeper purpose to flourish. Read more>>

Ryan Mcintosh

I was born in Portland oregon November 27th 1982, along with two brothers 35 and 50 min apart. At 6 years old we had lost our older brother Robby to cancer. He does at age 21. My mother Mary Jo didn’t miss a beat, and enduring the loss of her first born son, she remained focused on us three 6 year old triplet boys making sure we had the attention and care we needed. She is and has been my biggest inspiration from a young age. She displayed true loyalty, commitment, follow through, determination, powerful love, and selflessness. No matter her pain, she didn’t allow it to become a reason to neglect the responsibilities she still had. This would play a huge role into my mentality and heart in life in later years. Read more>>

Alyssa Thompson

My journey started when I was a little girl to be honest. I have ALWAYS loved makeup and all things weddings. My love for those two things have stayed with me and have only grown to be my passion and what I love to do. I am such a girls girl and there is nothing I love more than making women look and feel like the most elevated version of themselves. The reactions when they look in the mirror after their session still makes me giddy. I love the priceless connections and relationships I’ve been fortunate enough to make through makeup and that is something that never gets old. Read more>>

Shepherds

Our story is one that no doubt has had some divine guidance. The original four founders of SOM have been close friends and former business partners for a number of years. A couple of years ago we had each gone our separate ways as far as business and careers were concerned, but we continued to stay as close as brothers in our personal lives. Through multiple conversations and individual internal promptings, it became very clear that there was a bigger mission that we were being called to.  Read more>>

Nathaniel Mather

I grew up in Los Angles and started playing drums at age seven. My dream was to become a professional musician. In High School, I started playing gigs and doing studio work and for the next ten years worked at my craft. During that time, I became involved with my local church and realized that my current lifestyle was unhealthy. At the age of twenty-six I put aside music and enrolled at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena CA, studying illustration and painting. I was honored to have my first one-person show a few years later and left school to paint fulltime. Read more>>

Timothy Edward Carpenter

I was born and raised in the Midwest into a religious household. This meant attending church services regularly, exposing me to live bands and music productions on a weekly basis. It wasn’t long before I was on my knees begging my parents for an acoustic guitar. They took the bait. I was thirteen years old when I was gifted my first acoustic guitar which I now believe was likely constructed entirely of plastic. Nevertheless, I spent countless hours laboring over handwritten chord diagrams in my room and strumming along to whatever song my iPod shuffle served up next. Read more>>

Emma Kleinberg

I grew up in a small town called Bel Air, Maryland. My family always spent a lot of time at the beach growing up and music was constantly playing. My Mom is a great piano player and singer and my Dad’s got a great voice and would play guitar to us all the time. My whole life I’ve known I want to be performing/writing/creating/singing. I started taking voice and piano lessons when I was six and did a lot of community theater. I kept up lessons and musical theater all throughout high school and decided that I wanted to go to college somewhere that offered commercial music as a major. Read more>>

Olivia Faye (Floyd)

I’m a Singer/Songwriter from Murray, Kentucky, a small town near the homestead my family has proudly farmed for over 100 years. My parents were amazingly creative and encouraged my siblings and me to use our talents to make the best of our time on this earth. We kids were involved in EVERYTHING, church, school, sports, hunting, boating, music and friends. You name it, we tried it! We were also expected to reach out, welcome, and include people of different cultures and every walk of life. Our home was chaotic but filled with laughter and love. Read more>>

Rem Steele

My music career began in my hometown Mobile Al.I started my music journey as a baritone player in middle school.During those years artist such New Edition,LL coo J,Nas and plenty other east coast hiphop artist influence me to rap and sing.My mom had me playing the organ and drums in church as well…….Things didn’t really get serious until I got to high school(Vigor High school). Where I met a Choir and English teacher by the name of Don Gardner,He taught me how to sing properly and developed me as well as other very talented student in that area. Read more>>

Marcus Gurule

I learned how to sew when I was a kid. My mom used to make quilts and sell them. My dad used to run the local little league when I was a kid. He (dad), would often times have to fix and relace the league baseball equipment. It was always in shambles. Many years later as my military career started slowing down I began relacing my sons gloves, then his teammates and eventually my name got passed around. We’ve evolved over the years as one of the only shops in the US that fully restores, completely rebuilds, and essentially remakes an entire baseball glove. Read more>>

Suzie Graham

Growing up in Glasgow, Scotland, I had been singing in bands since I was a teenager and later worked as a cabaret singer. I had listened to Patsy’s music as a kid when my mother first introduced me to her around six years old. People had commented that when I sang Patsy Cline, they thought I sounded like her and it was suggested to me to be a tribute artist. I am the biggest Patsy Cline fan and this was so amazing to hear that I could sing her songs all night for a living to an appreciative audience who were also fans like me. In 2016, I was contacted by Joltin Jim McCoy who discovered Patsy at 14 years old when she came into his radio station in Winchester, Virginia asking if she could sing on his show. Read more>>

Brent Bythewood

In June of 2019 our daughter Emily Hope was born. A day doctors at a local hospital told us would never happen. Early in the pregnancy fluids were found in her little body, called Hydrops. The doctors told us there was zero percent chance that she would ever take a breath outside the womb. At our anatomy ultrasound at 19 weeks her story changed. The doctor came in and notified us that against all odds(and the grace of God) the fluids had disappeared. At that point he did notify us he was going to transfer our care to Vanderbilt due to complex heart issues that would need correction immediately upon birth. Read more>>

Danielle DeGroot

I became a dietitian because of my own health journey which started in high school and college. I found myself in a very restrictive place and finally decided it was a better idea to study nutrition than reading all the latest fads. So I changed my major from broadcast journalism and decided to get my Bachelor’s in Nutrition and Dietetics and Masters in Nutrition and Wellness following. Despite the education, I still felt like there was more to learn and found myself very drawn to holistic and alternative therapies. Read more>>

Kevin Mahoney

I’ve been in a National magazine sampler (Relix) and listed on their Artists on the Rise, TV spots, FM Radio, guitar pick endorsements, Guitar Strap endorsements, Pedal endorsements, National Company selected a song for their hold music, Nashville, Tri-cities, NY venues, theaters, listening rooms, CD’s and just recently was a finalist in the World Songwriting Awards! Kevin Mahoney is a powerful singer and songwriter gifted with the rare ability to speak to the soul with his expressive and poignant lyrics. Read more>>

T’naria Rhodes

Hello First off, I want to say thank you for giving me an opportunity to share my work with you all. I’m new to Nashville Tn and actually moved her for a better school system for my son Landon that is on the autism spectrum. Moving here has been a very great experience for my son and myself! I currently left my corporate position as a Computer Engineer in 2021 to become a Entrepreneur full time. I created Modish Photography,LLC from my original women boutique business which was Modish Couture,LLC. I sold Accesseriories and clothing for women. Read more>>

Jess White

I started photography on a whim with buying a camera from a friend just for fun. Soon after making that small but significant investment in 2015 I moved to Northern California. Marriage to my son’s father took me out West as a military spouse. Military life was lonely. Being 36 hours away from my family and my friends really took a toll on my mental health. Very early on during my marriage and this stage in my life I knew that this lifestyle and relationship didn’t fit me well so I really gave my all to photography. I spent the next three years taking classes, studying, practicing nonstop, and eventually building a really amazing clientele. Read more>>

Lana Jainarain

I moved to Nashville in 2013 to study Journalism at a local university. During undergrad and after, I began traveling and experiencing new cultures and places. I did a year long communications internship in India and discovered that I loved listening to other people’s stories. As a journalist working in communications, my job was to tell other people’s stories in an appealing way. Read more>>

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