Keith Thomas

Keith’s Blog

Insights and strategies for developing, nurturing and sustaining artists' musical careers

Chasing Nashville Episode 3

Share this: Facebook |

chasing-nashville-650-430

“She’s taking her dream to The Promised Land” is the last line from the theme song for the new Lifetime series, Chasing Nashville, written by the lovely and talented Deanna Walker and yours truly. This 27 second ditty has a special significance to me. In many ways, it’s emblematic of my own odyssey that began some 34 years ago.

It was February of 1979, at the tender age of 2—okay, maybe it was 22—that my dad and I threw everything I owned into the back of a small U-haul truck and drove from Conyers, Georgia, to the aforementioned promised land. This was not a spur of the moment decision, but rather one that had been instilled in me at a very early age.

My father, who posthumously would be inducted into the Georgia Country Music Hall Of Fame, had a dream that one of his kids would move to Nashville, AKA the “promised land” and make it in the music industry. I was his last chance at fulfilling a prophecy—or relieving his guilt for blowing hard-earned money on a fortune teller.

As far back as I can remember my dad would tell the story of the time he and my mother, two young newlyweds, visited a Psychic. By his account, the palmist said to him, “Someday the world will know your name.” Fast forward to 2007, some 25-years after my father’s passing. I had formed a new production company called Levosia Entertainment, named for my father Andrew Levosia Thomas. My first signing was Jordan Pruitt to Disney’s Hollywood Records.

One evening we were gathered around the kitchen table studying a map on my laptop with tiny dots representing the cities and countries from all over the world where Jordan’s music was either being played or purchased. A chill came over me as I realized the Levosia Entertainment logo was placed adjacent to the Disney logo. It was true—the world really did know my father’s name!

Last week on Chasing Nashville, the girls started making their way to the Music City where, for some, dreams really do come true. No question, Nashville is the fertile soil in which dreams are planted and take root. It’s the land of hope and possibility, where hard work and perseverance can beat the odds and where luck is an integral commodity.

Nashville is known as the songwriting Capital of the world and the convergence of musicians, songwriters and artists from all walks of life is the biggest contributor to why Nashville was recently characterized as the new “It City” in the January 8, 2013 article by The New York Times.

While many have left this great city feeling unappreciated, misunderstood and defeated, everyone is welcome to come play and test their skills—and that includes you. With any luck at all, you might just make it in The Promised Land!

Be sure to watch the next episode of Chasing Nashville on Tuesday, November 12th at 11pm EST/10pm CST.

Posted Nov 11, 2013

Leave a comment

Chasing Nashville Episode 2

Share this: Facebook |

chasing-nashville-650-430I was saddened this week by an article I read about a new youtube trend involving young girls who post videos of themselves asking viewers, mostly boys, to tell them if they look pretty. [Pretty Or Ugly?] This speaks volumes about our culture. It also reveals how blurred the lines of reality have become, especially in the world of entertainment. If I reconstruct your features in Photoshop and remove those love handles, is that really you? [Photoshop Makeover]. If I tune your vocal so hard that it starts to sound good and you leave the studio thinking it’s how you really sound… does this become your reality?

On Chasing Nashville this week, Helena began exploring a new look that might better define who she is as an artist. This is where I’d like to draw the distinction between three things: entertainment, personal responsibility and the look.

On the surface, Helena is perfect just the way she is but understands that if she’s going to entertain, she needs to work on her stage presence. Why? Because entertainment is just that… entertainment and it comes with certain expectations.

Being entertained allows us to escape to a new reality and the “reality” of show business is a completely different operating system. Ever wonder why some entertainers are weird and insecure? Well it’s always been clear to me. Opinions are formed everyday about musicians, actors and entertainers in general, that can either catapult us into stardom or send us to the back of the line and often our physical appearance is the deciding factor.

A few years ago, a producer said to me, as he evaluated my 14 year old artist who wore braces, It will be interesting to see if she shows too much gum after her braces are removed. Forget about the fact that her voice was undeniable. Fortunately, her gum-to- teeth ratio did not keep her from becoming successful as she sang on a regular basis in large venues filled with thousands of screaming kids.

We connect with artists for different reasons aside from the music. To ignore the physical component would be disingenuous. If Justin Bieber had my hairline, I doubt he would be the heartthrob he is. Stars, whether we like to admit it, represent something bigger than ourselves. Their ability to motivate and influence us can be profound… for better or worse.

I’ve yet to meet one person in the entertainment industry who wasn’t insecure to some degree, despite their level of success. In fact, more success often amplifies our insecurities and weirdities, which is why I work hard to help young emerging artists to keep a good perspective. Understanding this can mean the freedom to move forward and through whatever is before us. How we present ourselves says a lot about our music and who we are as individuals but when that becomes the basis of our self-worth, it can have a devastating effect on our lives as we grow older and success begins to wane… and it will.

As you continue to “find your look”, try to see yourself from a birds-eye view to obtain a better perspective and remember, the real beauty lies within!

 

Be sure to check out next week’s episode of Chasing Nashville, Tuesday, November 5th at 9pm CST on The Lifetime Network.

Posted Nov 2, 2013

Leave a comment

Chasing Nashville Episode 1

Share this: Facebook |

chasing-nashville-650-430With the first episode of Chasing Nashville behind me, I’m breathing a little easier.  I’m not used to leaving the details up to someone else, so not being involved in the editing process was a bit scary.  At least they didn’t show me picking my nose or saying something so stupid that my family disowned me. I particularly liked the shot of me looking like Snoopy from Charlie Brown with my nose in the air and what was up with that silly grin on my face?  The producers must have loved this shot because they kept going back to it so much that it became comic relief with friends and family watching.  Ok… enough about me.

More about me… I’m sure there are those who wonder why I decided to take on a show of this nature. First and foremost, I have a passion for discovering talent. There is nothing more rewarding than to find that nugget of an artist and watching it grow into something special and that is what this show is all about… replete with drama.

How can anyone expect to have a “reality” show about seven teenage girls and their parents and not have drama?  The reality is; these are girls who have real hopes and dreams.  Some of them will look back on this moment as a fun adventure while there are a couple that, I predict, will find success in the music industry. The key is keeping their heads on straight and monitoring their expectations. Everyone wants it NOW, but greatness takes time. One of my favorite books is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  In short, he theorizes that to become an expert in any field, you have to apply yourself for at least 10 thousand hours. This certainly applies to developing artists.

So I encourage all aspiring artists, especially the girls on the show, to take it slow and enjoy the ride.  Put in the necessary hours it takes to become great. The old adage, “practice makes perfect” makes perfect sense.  If you’re shooting for anything short of being the best, it’s time to re-evaluate.

Be sure to check out next week’s episode of Chasing Nashville next Tuesday October, 30th at 9pm CST on The Lifetime Network.

Posted Oct 24, 2013

Leave a comment

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: