Motto: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” — Howard Thurman
Ice Cream: Dulce de Leche
Having won prestigious literary competitions in both grade school and junior high, I attended college with a Scripps Howard Foundation scholarship, earned a BA in Journalism, and interned at Entertainment Tonight. After graduation, I worked as a personal assistant in Celebrityville to two Bangles, a Beastie Boy, a French actress, and several others. From there, my life-long passion for music turned into an incredibly varied career working in almost every area of the music industry over the course of 30 years (and counting).
In the very early ’90s, I co-repped a cool band and booked hipster musicians at hot Hollywood clubs, before switching gears, going vegan, and coordinating contracts at Virgin Records for a year. In 1994, desperately missing the trenches of live music, I started booking Genghis Cohen, a small acoustic venue where I supported the burgeoning careers of Vonda Shepard, Shawn Mullins, and other soon-to-be notables. Joni Mitchell even played once. That era of the club was immortalized in both Shawn’s hit “Lullaby” and Vonda’s “Maryland.” My time at Genghis led to a few years managing Vonda’s career, including making the record that landed her Ally McBeal. I also shopped a label deal for Shawn Mullins, booked and traveled with Melissa Ferrick for several national tours, and helped out for a spell at Engel Entertainment, supporting Danny Elfman and others.
Somewhere around the turn of the millennium, I spent a year processing copyrights and licenses at Warner/Chappell Music Publishing. On the side, I got back to my roots, combined my loves of music and writing, and became a freelance “expert” for AllMusic.com penning album reviews and artist bios for Sheryl Crow, Dixie Chicks, David Gray, and many more. Shortly after, I joined the Velvetpark magazine start-up and authored interviews with Joan Osborne, Patty Griffin, and others.
After several years of business development, I formally founded Circle Back Music in 2007 to keep my music ties knotted as a project manager for independent artists. For extra karma points, I served as a marketing consultant to several non-profits, producing benefit concerts and compilations for various orgs. In 2008, I wrote and edited for Showtime’s The L Word spin-off, OurChart.com, covering environmentalism, music, and politics. There, my Chatting It Up interviews included Amy Ray, Patty Larkin, Katie Herzig, and a slew of others, while my Kelly Picks a Fight series often found me tossing political hot potatoes.
Over the next few years, I bolstered my freelance portfolio with contributions to Shareable, Velvetpark, NoiseTrade, VC Reporter, and other sites, eventually carving out a niche in roots music for No Depression, PopMatters, Elmore, Curve, Cuepoint, Folk Alley, NPR Music, and the Bluegrass Situation, becoming editorial director of the BGS in 2016. That same year, I started a weekly Facebook Live show called Hangin’ & Sangin’ which quickly became a podcast, radio show, and live event series. On it, I interviewed some of the best artists making roots music today, legends and upstarts, alike, from Vince Gill and the Time Jumpers to Brandi Carlile, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Keb’ Mo’, Rhiannon Giddens, Yola, Larkin Poe, Fantastic Negrito, Indigo Girls, Robert Randolph, and many more. In 2020, I added “playwright” to my résumé through an artist residency at the cell theatre in New York City… which, sadly, got sidelined by COVID.
That same year, I also joined the ranks of hosts at the newly launched Apple Music Country streaming radio station, helming the Americana/roots-based Southern Craft Radio, where I interviewed Jason Isbell, Johnnyswim, Tanya Tucker, Bonny Light Horseman, and more. Kicking off 2021 with a twist, I switched Apple shows to Record Bin Radio in order to broaden the definition and representation of American roots music.
Because social and racial justice are deep passions of mine, both in and out of music, as an organizer and advocate, I partnered with HeadCount and produced a number of voter registration benefits in Nashville with Amanda Shires, Jason Isbell, Will Hoge, Indigo Girls, and more. Additionally, in 2018, I co-founded the Rainey Day Fund and have since expanded it exponentially. Not only did we join forces with Newport Festivals Foundation in 2021, but we also added two offshoot funds: the Color Me Country Artist Fund to support BIPOC in country music and the Rosetta Fund to assist marginalized journalists and creators working in the roots/country music space.
For press inquiries, please contact Liz Mayo.