Sonia Leigh, Brooke Eden, Phil Barton, and Brett Young joined forces for a Nashville, Tennessee round last night at The Listening Room Cafe. Originally I attended the event to support a hometown friend with no intentions of reviewing the show. However, when you attend a show like the one I witnessed last night, you simply cannot bypass writing about the phenomenal talent that permeated the room, both on the stage and off.
Sharing the stage were singer-songwriters and friends, Brett, Phil, Brooke, and Sonia. Supporting each other every step of the way, the foursome spontaneously offered background vocals and minor instrumental supplementation as their colleagues showed off their talents. As the artists performed and cracked jokes, sometimes at one another’s expense, The Listening Room crowd absorbed every moment of the uniquely incredible night they had no idea they were going to experience.
Brett, a former baseball player and Tampa Rays prospect, has shared stages past with the likes of Colbie Caillat, Gavin DeGraw, and Katy Perry; and with good reason. Brett sat in the first seat on stage and entertained the crowd with his gorgeous vocals, flawless guitar playing, and a casual and comfortable demeanor, engaging the audience and holding everyone in the palm of his hands. Brett shared the backstories of his songs with the audience, enrapturing listeners in the meaning before delivering his music in an emotionally driven manner.
Sitting directly to Brett’s left was the hilarious and talented Phil Barton. It’s likely I can’t use some of the colorful adjectives I used to describe how hysterical Phil is in this review, but let’s put it this way — Phil owns a stage like no other and ensures that his presence is well-known and enjoyed by all. If you aren’t familiar with Phil, here are six words that will immediately open your eyes to his capabilities: Lee Brice’s “A Woman Like You.” I rest my case. Also in Phil’s catalog is Sara Evans’ next single (coming to radio next week) “Can’t Stop Loving You,” a duet with Isaac Slade of The Fray. Phil performed both of these songs in his own way, clearly showing that his talent doesn’t stop at songwriting. With his distinguished approach to his songs (adding in a few choice expletives for good measure and many yelps), Phil has a way of making an audience feel like it is sitting in his living room, rather than The Listening Room.
Following Phil was a tall order because of his boisterous presence, but if anyone could handle the job, it was Brooke Eden. Watching Brooke on the Nashville stage was an indescribable experience. I am used to seeing her in South Florida, performing a solo show to a group of longtime friends and family. Having the opportunity to see Brooke in Music City, amongst her peers in the music industry, was so special, as she is truly in her niche in the country music capital of the world. Of particular importance, Brooke was able to announce to a room full of her colleagues and friends that her first single “American Dreamin’,” which we recently reviewed, would be premiering on Sirius XM The Highway after the show. As her “American Dreamin'” co-writers (Sherrie Austin and Will Rambeaux) sat in the audience and watched, Brooke proved to the crowd why she would be the newest #HighwayFind in mere hours. Brooke also performed other originals “Hearts and Dollar Signs,” “Took Your Picture Down Today,” and “Daddy’s Money.”
Completing the four-person round was Number 1 songwriter, Sonia Leigh. We recently reviewed Sonia’s current single “Put It in Your Pocket” and featured her as a #CMchat One to Watch, as our team expects continuous success and greatness from this breakout artist. Observing Sonia live and evaluating the crowd’s response to her proves one thing — this singer-songwriter has a long, exciting road ahead. Delivering her songs with ease, Sonia has the knack for making her craft look effortless and transporting her entire audience into a place of silent wonderment. Highlights of Sonia’s set (if it is even possible to choose a discernible highlight) were “Fairytale Dream,” a song that can be found on Sonia’s EP Counting Skeletons, and the aforementioned “Put It in Your Pocket.” Significantly, during Sonia’s set, BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) surprised her with special awards for her two Number 1 hits, Zac Brown Band’s “Goodbye in Her Eyes” and “Sweet Annie.” A somewhat bashful, but extraordinarily appreciative, Sonia accepted her awards, sharing hugs with those on stage. You can’t write these moments, folks. The beauty of Nashville simply writes itself.
Other unexpected moments during the show included Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” co-writer, Jesse Rice, being invited on the stage by Phil Barton to sing his Number 1 hit song. Grabbing a guitar and putting a very special Nelly spin on the country chart topper, Jesse got the entire audience and stage singing along. Cleverly, Brooke joked “what’s this song? I’ve never heard this before!”
The next cameo was by Sherrie Austin and Will Rambeaux. Sherrie sang a light, fun song called “Whatever,” accompanied by Brooke on vocals and Will on guitar. Lastly, the foursome also asked their friend Michael Ray to join them on stage, which took Michael by slight surprise, but he was able to shake it off rather quickly and give a breathtaking performance to close the night.
As a whole, the show was described by Nashville locals as “the best Listening Room show I’ve ever seen.” Fans and friends entered the building expecting to see four singer-songwriters on the stage for a casual round and left having experienced far more than they anticipated. One thing is certain; a Tuesday night in Nashville is unlike a Tuesday night anywhere else. It was an honor and privilege to share the room with the talent that surrounded me for a couple of hours and made for a night I will not soon forget.
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