It’s been another highly enjoyable year at Belles and Gals, our third year since launching in January 2016. We’ve been lucky enough to feature some of the best artists in the country music industry and we’re truly grateful to every artist who has appeared on the site, been interviewed, has given us exclusive content and shared our output on social media.
One of the best aspects of the site in 2018 has been the realisation that there is a fantastic market now in the UK for live music – and all female gigs at that! We’ve been lucky enough to put on some amazing shows this years and this has given us the confidence to increase this substantially in 2019! As well as a series of brilliant standalone gigs, we’ve also partnered with Black Barn Music in our new ‘Nashville Calling’ initiative, a monthly night (the last Tuesday of every month). In the early part of this year we’ve already lined up headline gigs featuring Olivia Lane, Liv Austen, Jade Helliwell and Remember Monday and look out for even more announcements very soon! Check out our upcoming live gigs here – http://bellesandgals.com/belles-and-gals-live-gigs/
This year also saw Belles and Gals move into management for the first time, when the fantastic (and lovely!) Hannah Paris signed a deal with us. It’s been a stellar year for Hannah, highlighted perhaps by an appearance at the iconic Isle of Wight Festival, as well as two BCMA award nominations. Hannah is all set to hit the ground running in 2019 too – so watch out!
Belles and Gals also sponsored three artists in 2018 – Becky Lawrence, Lucy Grubb and Emily Frith. This has been a fantastic initiative and all three artists have been a pleasure to work with. Such has been the partnership with these incredible artists that we’ve moved from ‘sponsoring’ to naming each a ‘Belles and Gals Ambassador’!
On the subject of the team, I’d like to give the members a shout out! Long standing team members Astrid Helene Mjoen and Lesley Hastings continue with their brilliant output – Astrid with her daily social media shouts and more, while Lesley continues to bring us some of the best in depth reviews/articles you’ll find in this industry. Liam Lewis has joined the technical side of the team as our web developer and SEO specialist, doing a fantastic job of both, while Katie Louise Ingram has now become involved in the live music side of the site, taking care of our gigs in the northern part of the country. Our sole US representative Mike Ross keeps us up to date with all things on the other side of the pond, while Laura Klonowski does a fine job of bringing us regular content from some of the best artists on the scene. A big shout to Shannon Hynes who does a fantastic job of juggling writing for B and G while hitting the top of the charts on a REGULAR basis as an artist (go Shannon!) and long standing team member Nathalie Larsen whose knowledge of the country scene is incredible.
We bought in three new team members this year too. Emily Weall, Megan Roberts and Craig Brooks have slotted into the team so well that it seems like they’ve been there from the start. Emily is a fine writer who joined after seeing the Belles and Gals team at the C2C festival – bringing a real sense of fun to the team. Megan is an aspiring journalist, and looking at her writing you can see why, bringing some great UK reviews and interviews to the site. Craig is our newest member, with a fantastic knowledge of the Nashville scene in particular – look out for exclusive Nashville content coming soon!
A huge thank you too to our three feature writers. Melanie Meriney’s ‘Notes from Nashville’ series has gives us a great insight into the life of an artist in music city. Sally Rea Morris brings you an insight into life as a UK country artist in her ‘Country Way of Life’ series, while Charlotte Elizabeth has given us an idea of life on the management side of things from a female perspective with her ‘Inside Country’ pieces.
2018 also saw the introduction of the Belles and Gals Amazon store, the first online shop dedicated solely to female country artists. In the shop you’ll find the best selections from all of our team members, as well as highlight releases from the year. Take a look by clicking here – https://www.amazon.co.uk/shop/bellesandgals
In 2019, Belles and Gals will continue to strive for equality in the country music industry, we’ll continue to bring you 100% original content (we’ve never simply ‘copied and pasted’ a press release, and we don’t intend to start anytime soon!), we’ll aim for the biggest and best interviews (in 2018 we chatted to Lindsay Ell, Ashley McBryde, Danielle Bradbery, Carly Pearce and more) and we’re looking to put on some of the best gigs in country music in the UK, with a stated aim of becoming one of the biggest promoters of country music in the UK in 2019!
I’d like to finish by thanking three groups of people. First, every single person who has interacted with us in any way in 2018. Whether you’ve visited the site, headed to one of our live gigs or liked/shared/commented on social media – thank you. If one single person has purchased a song/album, bought a concert ticket or has discovered a new favourite artist through Belles and Gals, then it makes what we are doing worthwhile.
Second, on a personal note, I’d like to thank my wife Katie and our two wonderful daughters, who have to put up with my incessant ramblings about ‘Belles and Gals’ and country music throughout the year. Thank you x
And thank you to the artists. Without you amazingly talented people filling our pages each day, we wouldn’t have a site. The dedication, the hard work and the incredible end products you guys put out is a joy to behold – you bring us excitement, exhilaration, tears, joy and wonder every day!
Roll on 2019 – and watch out for those incredibly talented female artists who grace the country music scene. This is the year things start to change!!
Nick Cantwell – founder of Belles and Gals