WMYC – Teagan Stewart

#whatmadeyoucountry - Teagan Stewart

We caught up with New Mexico-native Teagan Stewart to talk about her upcoming EP – and of course, we had to ask about #whatmadeyoucountry!

 

When I was 11 or 12, I wrote a journal entry in a notebook at school why country music is the best genre and my favorite. That notebook is still in a drawer at my parent’s house and I remember how funny I found it 12 years later – way too self-assured, but passionate and still true to how I feel about country music today. Country music is storytelling, above all else. It is wordy and detailed and complicated. It’s not distilled in a pure, simplistic form, like pop. Country is full of character in the way the instruments are played and the way it’s sung. It’s sometimes full of satire, self-deprecation, and larger-than-life characters. Other times, it’s a confession, loneliness, and one acoustic guitar. I love that country music has such a broad range of topics (being a child of divorce, to meeting a homeless man who was a war veteran, to relishing the view of your front porch looking in) and that alone makes me feel like I will never get tired of listening to or exploring country music.

 

I definitely can’t remember the first country song I ever heard, since my parents had it on the radio since I was little! I do remember I got a CD/radio player in my room when I was about 11 and that jumpstarted my voracious clip of consuming country. I don’t remember (the first gig) with accuracy. Every summer starting in elementary/middle school, my parents would buy the “Megaticket” to the amphitheater where all the country acts rolled through. I saw everyone, from Brooks & Dunn to Tim McGraw to Miranda Lambert. There was a time, probably in 2009, where I had seen, either as an opener or headliner, nearly every single country artist who was on the radio, big or small. Those concerts solidified my passion for country music, for sure. The feeling of standing on the grass, singing out loud, the drums pumping through the ground and the guitars wailing… There was nothing else like it.

 

The one artist that inspired me most is Carrie Underwood. There was no one else I listened to most as a kid. Her voice, her storytelling, and her ability to navigate the music industry after her win was so inspirational to me and I was hooked. I even remember her playing her first tour after Idol at the New Mexico State Fair and prefacing “Before He Cheats” with “I’m not actually that kind of person!” I feel like I grew with her and there’s truly no other artist like her.

 

If I could only listen to one country album for the next decade, it would be Own the Night, Lady Antebellum (the real Lady A is blues artist Anita White). Already one decade down!

 

I would sing The Night Before (Life Goes On) as a challenge to my middle school self to see if I could hold those high notes (I couldn’t) and push the limits of my range. I also sang it back when I was a kid who had only dreamed of what love might feel like, all the way through my first boyfriend and first kiss, until the subject matter of the song finally caught up to my life and I broke up with a boyfriend the summer before I left for college.

Good Directions is one of my favorite songs. I love the simple story of it and how the chorus moves the story along. I love the instrumentation and the hillbilly-vibe. Will always be one of my favorite songs.

Making Memories of Us is perhaps my favorite love song of all time and often moves me to tears. It is the pinnacle of what true love means to me and few songs have ever made me feel like this one does.

Gunpowder & Lead is super memorable in pop culture, but for me, it represented a grit and fierceness I didn’t find when I listened to anything else. While owning and brandishing a gun to kill an abusive boyfriend doesn’t relate to me in any real way (especially not as a child), the brazenness and “give no f***s” attitude was something I immediately respected and felt was true to the kinds of songs I wanted to sing.

I love Gary LeVox’s voice and it was a game changer in country music, I think. To have those kinds of pop runs, high range, and expressionistic voice dominating the song and still be country. I love the lyrics and the imagery of Fast Cars and Freedom. I’ve never once heard it and not immediately been transported to a road trip with crisp, morning air.

 

TASTE OF MY HEARTBREAK is available to stream now, ahead of the full EP release in October. Follow Teagan on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram, or visit her website.

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INTRODUCING: Laura Beckwith

introducing Laura Beckwith

 

Up-and-coming country/pop artist Laura Beckwith has always been drawn to music. Beckwith learned piano after enrolling in theatre school and has been writing and performing all over the south of the UK ever since. We caught up with her in the run-up to her next single release to talk about her career and #whatmadeyoucountry.

 

Since the age of three I attended theatre school and I’ve have grown up performing musical theatre songs. I feel that my love for country music stemmed from the want to tell stories much like musical theatre songs.  Maddie and Tae are a country duo who have worked incredibly hard and persisted through the rough times to get where they are. They truly inspire me to work hard, aim high and to go after what you want.

 

‘Halfway’ came after an extremely long and heated argument that seemed to never end. The single is about me trying to find a way to finish the argument without making it worse.  My previous single,  ‘Not In Love’ was played on BBC Essex and several other radio stations. Unfortunately ‘Not in love’ ended up being released during lockdown so I haven’t had the opportunity to perform the song live yet.

 

At the moment my aim is to meet as many artists as possible and write brilliant music! As well as hopefully getting back out and performing live.

 

Country music is raw and truthful. With my Dad being a drummer I have always appreciated the complexity of playing an instrument. I grew up watching ‘Hannah Montana’ and I was obsessed with the music. I can’t be 100% sure on the first country song I ever heard. However, the first country song that really hit me was ‘Bless the broken road’ by Rascal Flatts. The blend of their voices and meaning behind each lyric is absolutely incredible.

 

The first country gig I saw was actually only last year when visiting Nashville. I watched a performance at The Listening Room Cafe. I was in my element! The music and the atmosphere put together made that night the best!

 

An artist that inspires the most is ‘Kelsea Ballerini’. Her music is absolutely incredible and I love how much she connects with her audience when performing. Right now I’m listening to Ingrid Andress and her album ‘Lady Like’ – her music is incredible and timeless.

 

Every time I listen to ‘Bless the broken road’ it reminds me exactly why I love slow music. The song is a pure masterpiece, the lyrics, melody and harmonies fit so perfectly!

 

If you wanna bring up the mood in any situation play ‘Islands in the stream’. If I can make music that gets everyone singing and dancing like this song does – that would be the ultimate.

 

I was in two minds for a long time about whether I suited country music and if wanted to release that style of music. After hearing ‘My Church’ it was the final confirmation that I wanted to create brilliant music like this.

 

When I first heard ‘More Hearts Than Mine’ I was shocked at how much the lyric related to me and my family. The more you listen to country music you realise that every song has come from a true experience and I love that you can relate to others.

 

My last song although by far not the least is a pop song called ‘Turning Page’ by Sleeping at Last. This was one of the first songs I performed professionally. This particular song also made me realise just how much I love music. The first time I heard ‘Turning Page was in my most favourite movie ‘Twilight’ – I adore the vocals and lyrics – such a stunning song.

 

Laura’s next single HALFWAY is released on 25th September 2020. Pre-order via the iTunes Store & pre-save on Spotify here. You can follow Laura on FacebookTwitter & Instagram.

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WMYC: Abigail Neilson

Abigail Neilson #whatmadeyoucountry

Abigail Neilson is a country-pop artist from Seattle, Washington. We reviewed her upcoming single Left Unsaid last week, and now she joins us for a round of #whatmadeyoucountry.

 

 

Country music to me means stories. I think that the best storytelling is always done through country music. As an artist, I feel very passionate about songwriting and storytelling which is why I love country music so much and am a country/pop artist.

 

The first country song I ever heard was “Here for The Party” by Gretchen Wilson. When I was 3-4 years old, I’d put on all my mom’s jewellery, get a wooden spoon, and sing the song for my family and stuffed animals. It made me feel like a superstar singing it. I think the first country artist I saw live was probably Miranda Lambert. She’s incredible at everything she does, and I’ve always looked up to her. She puts on such an amazing show and writes such incredible songs too.

 

I think I really knew country music was it for me when I first heard Taylor Swift. I’ve always loved her storytelling and she was such an amazing role model growing up. Once she switched over to mainly making pop music, another artist I started to really be influenced by was Kacey Musgraves. Her lyrics are always written so beautifully, and her music overall is just purely incredible. If I could only listen to one country album for the next ten years, it would be Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves.

 

 

 

You can follow Abigail on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and subscribe to her YouTube channel.  You can also visit her website for more music. Her new single, Left Unsaid, will be released on 28th August.

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WMYC: Laura Evans

Laura Evans #whatmadeyoucountry

 

Welsh singer-songwriter Laura Evans joins us today for another round of #whatmadeyoucountry.  Born in Aberdare, South Wales, Laura is Nashville-loving, Welsh-rooted and soul-fuelled.  Her latest single, Take Me Back Home, is a Music City collaboration with writers Tim Lee Jones and Leroy Powell.  About the collaboration, Laura speaks of her excitement about working with Jones and Powell, and how the song came together in a matter of hours.

 

I love all genres of music but I guess my favourite thing about Country music is the ability to be able to tell a story. Country music has always struck me as honest and that’s my favourite type of songwriting.

 

The first country song I ever heard was Lying Eyes by The Eagles. This song just intrigued me – the melody, the lyrics… I just became obsessed with it and the story behind it.

 

I actually travelled to Nashville for the first time back in 2014 and I remember seeing Ashley McBryde at a writers round. I felt like I was in the presence of a country star that night just hearing her sing with an acoustic guitar.

 

The one artist that inspired me most is Lucie Silvas. I’ve been a long time fan of hers not only her as an artist but also as an amazing songwriter.

 

 

If I could only listen to one country album for the next decade, it would be HERO by Maren Morris.

Laura has performed at the C2C ‘Country 2 Country’ music festival at the O2 Arena in London, supported popular UK country act The Shires in concert, and on her last trip to Nashville, played at the famous ‘Bluebird Cafe’. Her EP Running Back To You will be released on 28th August.

You can follow Laura on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram, and find her music on Spotify.

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WMYC: Ashley Taylor

#WMYC: Ashley Taylor

Bakersfield, CA native Ashley Taylor joins us today for #whatmadeyoucountry.  Ashley released her debut EP Bakersfield in January 2019, to great success.  The EP charted at #60 on the iTunes Country album charts and was met with positive reviews by critics and fans alike.

 

 To me country music is honesty. It’s songs about real life sung by real people.

 

I remember it like it was yesterday. My grandmother was a huge Loretta Lynn fan and I remember she would play “Coal Miners Daughter” on repeat. It was the first country song I ever heard and one of my earliest memories.

 

My very first country music concert was to see Trisha Yearwood for my sweet 16. She blew me away with her voice and I honestly just really loved how she talked to the crowd and connected with people.

 

My greatest influence is hands-down Gretchen Wilson. I remember being a kid and seeing her video for “Redneck Woman” come on the TV. I was immediately hooked and knew that I was a country girl through and through.

 

If I could only listen to one country album for the next ten years, it would be Brandy Clark’s “Big Day In A Small Town”. That record changed my life!

 

You can hear more from Ashley on her website, or by following her on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter.

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WMYC: Joe Martin

Joe Martin #whatmadeyoucountry

Today’s #WMYC guest is Joe Martin.  Joe has recently released the gorgeous single Heartbreak Cult, and it’s clear from that song alone that he writes with empathy far beyond his years.  His storytelling style draws heavily from his many influences, and it’s that ability to turn influence into something unique that has seen him perform to acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic.  Today, though, Joe is telling us all about #whatmadeyoucountry.

 

 

I grew up listening to a lot of different genres and artists from 50’s swing like Sinatra, 60’s pop like The Beatles, Beach Boys and Elvis and 70’s country-folk like James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Crosby Stills and Nash and all those guys and when I started getting serious about songwriting I started leaning more towards the country stuff because of the amazing stories country songs portray. Take a song like ’She Thinks I Still Care’ by George Jones. There’s nothing clever or fancy about the lyric and that story has been told a thousand times before. But it’s almost like poetry written in conversational language. That’s what I love so much about the genre and what I strive for when writing a song.

 

The first country song I ever heard was probably by Johnny Cash or Dolly Parton. Classic! But the song that changed my life (and I know it can be a cliché to say that but it’s true!) is a song called ‘No One Will Ever Love You’. I first heard it on one of the early episodes of the show ‘Nashville’. What was so powerful about it was the chorus melody kept repeating over different chords and it sounded really haunting. The lyric has a really nice twist too. It had everything! The moment I heard that song I thought ’this is what I’ve been looking for. If this is what country music is, that’s what I want to do!’ I actually met the writer of the song, John Paul White, on an excursion to Muscle Shoals Alabama. But that’s a whole other story!

 

The first country gig I saw was one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen. The Civil Wars, Manchester Apollo. (They’re not strictly Country, more on the Americana side of things). They were the best duo since Simon and Garfunkel in my opinion. Also, they were being supported by this new band at the time called ‘The Lumineers’. They were sat around in a pub after the gig had finished, and I wondered if should go and have a chat with them. But I decided to go and wait in line to meet the Civil Wars instead!

 

When it comes to major influences, John Paul White is a big one, because I used to be in a duo and all we’d play would be Civil Wars songs, and that was the time I started to write. My other heroes include Andrew Combs, Brent Cobb, Charlie Worsham, Jason Isbell and Margo Price.

 

Only one country album for the next ten years – that’s a tough one! I’d have to say ‘All These Dreams’ by Andrew Combs. The songs are perfect, the production is perfect, there’s not much I can fault with that album!

 

 

Joe’s new single, Heartbreak Cult, is available to stream and download everywhere now.  You can follow Joe on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, and visit his website to keep up to date with his latest music releases.

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Introducing: Kyle Elliott

Kyle Elliott - WMYC

Regular followers will know that Kyle Elliott needs no introduction. But if you’re new here, sit tight.  World, meet Kyle.

 

Kyle Elliott was born and raised in Music City, Tennessee.  He first picked up the guitar at the age of 13 and has been making music ever since. While attending college at Middle Tennessee State, Elliott began writing songs for an alternative band where he was the rhythm guitar player. In November 2016 Elliott decided to write and perform as a solo act.

 

The rest, as they say, is history.

 

Kyle released his first single “Anymore” in April 2017. Since then, he has released four other singles, including the duet “Never Break” with Stephanie Nash, which has accumulated over 150,000 streams and has been played on radio stations around the world. Since early 2019 Elliott has been working on a continuity project that already included the songs “Sunrise” & “Love Hangover“. The full project is set to be finished and released by early 2021.

 

Between taking part in our first Help From My Friends challenge and releasing his next single (which we’ll be reviewing soon!), Kyle joined us for a round of #whatmadeyoucountry.

 

 

Country music is more than just a genre. For me, it’s the foundation of emotion. Any type of day that I am having or any mood that I am in, country music can match it, or solve it. There is no doubt in my mind that I would be a completely different person without country music.

 

If I had to guess the first country song I ever heard, it’s probably Randy Travis with 3 wooden crosses. That song is so deep and shows the true potential of a country song. It’s got a solid storyline with a sad yet amazingly optimistic message. Sadly my first country concert wasn’t until 2015… I know, I live in Nashville and it took me 22 years to actually see a concert! However, it was a great show. Chris Young opened for Brad Paisley.

 

The song that influenced me most is Long Black Train by Josh Turner. Hands down this song showed me my musical ability that not many others have, which is to sing low notes on great country tunes.

 

If I had to choose one country album to listen to for the next ten years – such a hard question. but I think I’m gonna cheat and say the Best of Garth Brooks. He just has way too many hits to choose one album. Plus you never get tired of them.

 

 

Stay tuned for our review of Kyle’s gorgeous new single next week! You can follow Kyle on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

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WMYC: Biddy Ronelle

Biddy Ronelle - WMYC

Today’s #WMYC comes from Biddy Ronelle, who is gearing up to release her new single Thrill at the end of the month.

 

For me, country music is definitely always about storytelling first and foremost. Then I think there’s such an array of music especially now that comes under the country umbrella and we can argue all day about what actually makes it country but if someone believes it’s country then let them. The three songs I have/am releasing are wildly different musically from one to the next and my EP did blend genres quite intentionally to try and appeal to more listeners. I grew up listening to country and rock music and there are “country” bands that I love that blend these genres well such as Delta Rae and Zac Brown Band, so I do prefer the heavier stuff in general to listen and play. I think I like the way country music is moving forwards now that we are seeing blends of genres we never thought we’d be hearing such as R’n’B country and country rap. It’s no longer just about the four chords and the truth, but we need to remember what the whole genre was founded on.

 

The first country song I ever heard was “He Stopped Loving Her Today” by George Jones and I was really young (about 6/7 years old) and listening to someone sing it on karaoke in Spain. I remember reading the lyrics on the screen and starting to cry. Mother says I was a sensitive child! It’s one of those songs that you need to really sit and listen to the lyrics and it becomes sadder as the song progresses to its resolution. I love the kind of songs that give you a good hard punch in the gut.

 

I was pretty late to the party in terms of recognising the existence of country in the UK so my first real country concert would have been Lady Antebellum in 2018 I think – they were supported by Brett Young and Kelsea Ballerini. I’d always been to rock concerts from a young age with my first being Alanis Morisette in 2004 when I was 14. To be fair to me though, I lived abroad mostly from 2008-16 and I assure you country music is not particularly huge in the likes of Egypt and Finland! I saw a lot of smaller gigs when I lived in Australia but again leaned towards rock and blues out there.

 

Brandi Carlile led the way for me when it came to songwriting – I am constantly in awe of the way she crafts lyrics and once again blends the genres of country, rock and folk together really really well. I do however have a rather eclectic taste in music so I could easily credit a whole load of female writers that would most definitely include Melissa Etheridge, Janis Joplin, Pat Benetar, Missy Higgins and many more.

 

If I could only listen to one country album for the next ten years, it would be The Story by Brandi Carlile, both the original and the covers that include Dolly Parton. It’s a masterclass in songwriting and vocal agility. She’s so quirky and talented, I adore her. Okay, it’s not necessarily completely in the country genre but her storytelling is second to none.

 

Here goes an absolutely eclectic mix off the top of my head that stand out to me, not necessarily reflected in my own songwriter but some of my absolute favourites.

 

 

Biddy Ronelle is a UK country-rock singer-songwriter whose debut EP was released in January to critical acclaim.  Her new single, Thrill, will be released at the end of July and is available to pre-order now.  Follow Biddy on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or visit her website.

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WMYC: Raihanna Estrada

raihanna estrada WMYC

 

Hot on the heels of the release of her new single, June, we asked Raihanna Estrada to talk about #whatmadeyoucountry.

 

Country music to me is storytelling about real life. Songs that people can relate to. There’s a song for the good times, a song for the hard times, and everything in between. The songwriting is some of the best which is what made me fall in love with it. Singing country music has always come naturally to me. 

 

I don’t remember the very first country song I heard but I do remember being so fascinated by Phil Vassar’s songwriting and Jo Dee Messina’s voice on country radio. The melodies, vocals, and instrumentation always made me happy. It felt like home

 

I’ve always listened to country and learned from 90’s country radio. But I listen to many genres of music because for me I’m in love with the songs, the way it makes me feel & the creativity of the artist. The first country bands I saw were local bands in the lodge at the Ranch that I grew up on. They’d come up and play cover songs on the weekends. I didn’t attend a lot of country gigs when I was younger. My first couple concerts I remember when I was young were Ricky Martin & The Spice Girls. I’ve seen Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean, Gillian Welch, Pistol Annies, Holly Williams, Brad Paisley, etc. Two of my favorite shows I’ve seen are Brandi Carlile and Tom Petty on his last tour. I love seeing live music, even more in the past decade from living in Los Angeles and now Nashville. There’s always a show good somewhere. 

 

I actually had quite a few artists who influenced me to make country music. I’d say vocally Jo Dee Messina was very influential. A lot of 90’s country artists like the Dixie Chicks, LeAnn Rimes, Travis Tritt, Joe Diffie, and later Jennifer Nettles and Miranda Lambert. I love the twang. As far as songs I really love “Live Like You Were Dying” & “Heads Carolina, Tails California”. I knew I wanted to write songs that could make you inspired and break your heart. I wanted to give the feeling that had been given to me. True connection through a song and words when you need it most. The ones you hear that you and everyone else feel like “they wrote that just for me”. 

 

If I could only listen to one country album for the next ten years – wow. That’s the hardest question ever! I don’t think I could listen to one album for ten whole years because I like to switch up music with my mood and life. I almost can’t answer! I’d probably say Jo Dee Messina’s Greatest hits album because it’ll always have that nostalgia feeling for me of driving up the windy roads to the Ranch and learning to sing those songs from the radio. 

 

There are so many songs that have touched my heart. I’m a sucker for nostalgia, which you’ll hear a lot of in my own songs like my new single “June”. Something about looking back as a songwriter. I love to explore that feeling. 

 

I love everything about (the Jo Dee Messina) songs – the writing, the vocals, and how inspired I felt as a young girl listening to them. It made me want to take off and drive across the country and follow my dreams, which I did many years later. 

The next song is in more recent years. I saw Lori McKenna play People Get Old at The Listening Room and The Ryman in Nashville and it hit my heart. I lost both of my parents when I was 19 years old and the way she paints the different stages of life and ageing is so beautiful. 

My Dad loved Remember When. I think it always reminded him of my Mom & him together for their lifetime. It’s so well written and makes me cry to this day when I hear it. 

Springsteen is a song makes me feel good when it comes on. It’s one of those that make me feel in another place and time. Musically I love it. 

 

You can visit Raihanna’s website, or follow her on Facebook at Raihanna Estrada Music, Instagram @raihannaestrada and Twitter @raihannaestrada.  You can also subscribe to her YouTube channel.

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WMYC: Northern Souvenirs

northern souvenirs WMYC

 

 

Today we’re chatting to Northern Souvenirs.  Alex and Lisa met in the North, live in the South, and have travelled and played everywhere in between. Their debut single My Page was released back in May, and they’re gearing up for their second single now – so amidst the madness of coordinating a release, we asked them to take a trip down memory lane and tell us all about #whatmadeyoucountry.

 

 

Alex tells us: I grew up with country music, especially the legendary Glen Campbell. My dad had his best-of albums in the car, and I remember countless journeys to the soundtrack of ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’, ‘Country Boy’ and ‘Galveston’. But my favourite song of Glen’s, and my favourite song of all-time, is ‘Wichita Lineman’. It’s incredibly beautiful and reminiscent; “And I need you more than want you, And I want you for all-time”. What a lyric from Jimmy Webb!

 

Lisa explains: In complete contrast, I grew up with a strange hybrid mixture of musical theatre and pop music. But I started listening to country music at University. The song that springs to mind as my first would be Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’. Our friends were in an all-female folk group called The Fables, and they covered it in three-part harmony during one of their gigs, it was gorgeous!

 

Our first country gig together was Darius Rucker at the O2 ABC in Glasgow, supported by Patrick Davis. Both were absolutely incredible. It was such an intimate gig, and you could feel the love for the music radiate from the stage. The energy was awesome! We also met both of them after the show and chatted all things country and music – it was very cool.

 

The first country song we heard together, and which inspired us to play and write country music together, was Darius Rucker’s cover of ‘Wagon Wheel’. It’s a real feel-good country song that really tells a story and makes you wanna pick up your guitar and travel and make music. Darius brings so much soul and truth to it. The whole ‘True Believers’ album really spoke to us as performers and songwriters. We discovered it at a time when we were living at opposite ends of the country, and it became the soundtrack to travelling up and down the country to be together. It’s probably the album that made us realise that country music was the genre that really resonated with us as artists – we wanted to tell stories through music.

 

‘True Believers’ was certainly the album that influenced and inspired us to play country music but, if we had to choose another to listen to for the next ten years, it would have to be Mo Pitney’s debut album ‘Behind This Guitar’. It’s a beautifully raw and truthful album, with such honest and relatable storytelling. It’s a real ‘back to your roots’ album, wherever they might be.

And if we got a wildcard, as there’s two of us, we’d have to throw in ‘Come On Over’. It’s a faultless album. Back-to-back iconic tracks. And, because, well… Shania! Am I right?!

 

You can follow Northern Souvenirs on FacebookTwitter and Instagram @nsouvenirsuk.

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