Featured Stories

Never give up on your dreams

Banks singer goes to Nashville and returns with a radio-quality single - not to mention the promise of a CD in the not-too-distant future

It all started back in September, when I was feeling that I needed to give it one more shot with the music industry. So I went online and typed in 'advancement in music career.'

I looked through my searches and found Affinity Music. I clicked on the site and found Don Reed, the CEO.

I went ahead and wrote up a short note about wanting to know more about the music business and just what it takes to break into the major record labels. After I sent it off into cyberspace, I went back to my normal routine.

I did gigs on the weekends and sang in care homes during the afternoons. Then, surprisingly enough, I got a call from Don Reed himself. He asked me a few questions and wanted me to send him a photo, bio and CD. I sent it out that day.

After he received my 'Splendor in the Past, Vol. 2' CD, he called back and asked if I could come down later that month to participate in a seminar and then audition for him and an RCA producer.

I couldn't make it in September due to prior commitments, so he suggested February.

On Feb. 20, I walked through the doors of the Holiday Inn conference room in Nashville, my briefcase in hand and my red NASCAR jacket on. Don told me and 15 others all about what is realistic, how to avoid scams in the business and other things to expect. Don has been in the business for 50 years, and his company is second to none.

After the seminar, I auditioned in front of Eric Strata, a producer, and Don. It was in a closed room, and they were not there to judge you like Randy, Paula and Simon. They were there to hear if your dreams are realistic or not.

I sang, a capella, 'There You Are' by Martina McBride.

If you know me, you know that I can be very strong when needed and very soft when needed. I started the verse, and I knew I had their attention right off the bat. When I got to the chorus, I let them have it, and Eric's response was to sit back in his chair and grab the arms of it as if he had just been blown out of his chair.

He had a really big smile on his face. He asked me why I haven't come down here earlier.

I told him that I come from a small town in Oregon and that I really wanted to be well-seasoned in the business and make sure that I was prepared for this.

He looked at Don, who was grinning from ear to ear and said, 'With the right song, I cannot see why she couldn't sell over a million records in less than a year's time.'

I still haven't touched the ground after that comment. But, I do have to say that I am not some turnip that fell off the truck yesterday.

I went on my way, and Don called me the next morning to see if I could come by the studio later that week.

He said, 'Only a few truly have that something that makes them shine above the rest, and you have that something.' He did not want me to leave until I had at least one song recorded.

I looked over the financial affairs and was able to swing a deal with him.

On Friday, Feb. 23, I met all the top musicians in the studio, ones that back artists such as Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood and Reba McIntire.

Producer Mark Mosely was very adamant that he produce my song. Another big WOW! These are people who I have looked up to all my life, and I was standing in the same room as them.

We recorded 'Love's Last Stand,' and before I knew it, it was in my hands as a radio quality single.

So now I am a solicited artist going by the name 'Alena.' The same day, Don signed me to his company. He is my artist representative. I also acquired a manager on the trip.

I learned that most major record companies will not sign a complete stranger. You have to prove to them that you are very serious about music. Now the hard work is about to start. I have to complete a full CD and do some traveling and interviews while my single is played over radio stations and becomes a digital download and ringtone.

In a nutshell, my trip to Nashville was very successful. All I can say is, 'Never give up on your dreams.'

Alena's home and in concert on May 20

Alena Ferguson, now a solicited artist signed with Artistree Records of Nashville, Tenn., will be in concert in Banks on Sunday, May 20.

The concert, a fund-raiser designed to help cover travel expenses and studio time connected to Ferguson's upcoming album, will be in the Banks High School gym at 3 p.m.

The address is 450 S. Main St. Tickets to the concert, available at the door, will be $5. Ferguson will sign pictures for fans after the event.

For more information about the concert or Alena's career, visit www.alenacountry.com.