Women are rockin’ on the East Side
Our 2017 Music Issue has been a long and arduous undertaking. It’s definitely been “all hands on deck,” as the saying goes, but it’s also been uplifting. The idea of having an edition featuring women from cover to cover sprang from conversations I had months ago with publisher Lisa McCauley. Like millions of women both here and around the globe, Lisa’s appalled and offended by the current political climate, by how we seem to be moving backwards concerning treatment of women and minorities.
Our conversations have often revolved around the central theme of, “Now what?” Lisa and I are fortunate — and consider ourselves so — to have a magazine through which we can endeavor to create a sense of unity within our community. We all might have different opinions about what that community should look like, but the coolest thing about the East Side is the vast majority of its denizens realize we’re all in this together and behave with respect towards one another.
Maybe that’s why women have played such an integral part in the explosive growth of East Nashville’s music scene. Recognizing this is what led Lisa to suggest the idea of celebrating the women musicians and entrepreneurs that give our little corner of the world the sense of solidarity that seems to be missing from the national fabric at large.
Lisa should know, too. As a child, she was discovered by a producer singing at a local restaurant where patrons fed money into the jukebox to accompany her. She later made a record and received local attention through experiences such as performing on The Ralph Emery Show. The “Showcase” section of The Tennessean once featured her in its cover story. Not yet in her teens, she received national exposure via performances at high-profile hotels, including The Fontainebleau in Miami and The Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas. She was even scouted for the popular television series Hee Haw, and Porter Wagner gave her serious consideration as Dolly Parton’s replacement — that is until he found out she was only 12.
But by her early teens, Lisa had grown tired of the grueling schedule required to maintain her profile. She’d largely missed out on just being a kid and had realized she didn’t like being — nor did she want to be — a country singer. Nashville was a different world then, of course. For most kids, country just wasn’t cool. Still, the seeds of music were planted, and she hasn’t been far from it ever since.
This included her decision to attend Belmont College, where she studied music business. Lisa began to pursue jobs in the music industry while she was still a student. She worked for several music companies, including Oh Boy Records, and through those jobs, she got to know celebrated artists like John Prine, Rodney Crowell, and Tanya Tucker (to whom Lisa had often been compared during her singing career). While at Oh Boy, she made connections at Lightning 100 (WRLT). She accepted an offer to join the staff there and gained experience in media sales, which put her on the path that eventually led to the founding of The East Nashvillian.
Lisa, like many of the women featured herein, is a self-made woman. She’s had to overcome obstacles to gain acceptance and advancement in the business world simply because she’s a woman. In recognition of the achievements these women have made, she wished to tell their stories. I’m honored to have helped her do that.