Kristen Brassel
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Kristen Brassel

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014

Nashville, Tennessee, United States
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Country Americana


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Kristen Brassel @ Café Fontanella

Whites Creek, Tennessee, United States

Whites Creek, Tennessee, United States

Kristen Brassel @ Café Fontanella

Whites Creek, Tennessee, United States

Whites Creek, Tennessee, United States

Kristen Brassel @ Café Fontanella

Whites Creek, Tennessee, United States

Whites Creek, Tennessee, United States



"MTSU Scholars Day Showcases"

April 5, 2013 By MTSU News and Media Relations

While MTSU recording industry major Kristen Brassel was belting out bluesy and folksy ballads Friday afternoon in a tent inside Murphy Center, more than 300 of her undergraduate and graduate student peers were showcasing their research.
Cody Hazelwood, right, explains his Scholars Week display, a low-cost, autonomous search-and-rescue robot, to Dr. Mike Allen, left, vice provost for research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies, and Todd Gary, a consultant and grant writer in the MTSU Office of Research. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)

Cody Hazelwood, right, explains his Scholars Day display, a low-cost, autonomous search-and-rescue robot, to Dr. Mike Allen, left, vice provost for research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies, and Todd Gary, a consultant and grant writer in the MTSU Office of Research. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)

It was all a part of the universitywide Scholars Day, which concluded the five-day MTSU Scholars Week 2013.

Across the way on the Murphy Center track, Cody Hazelwood had the assistance of a robot to explain his research: “Designing, Building and Testing a Low-Cost Autonomous Search and Rescue Robot Featuring Smartphone Surveillance and Control.”

Closer to the performance tent, Michael Floyd, a second-year master’s degree candidate in biology who plans to graduate in May, provided one of the most unique research projects.

Floyd is in an early Phase 1 exploration of Chinese herbal extracts that inhibit the growth of trapyson, which causes African sleeping sickness.

He said an estimated 30,000 to 500,000 people die annually from the disease, which is transmitted by the tsetse fly. Eight to 10 people die after they receive the arsenic-based treatment currently used to battle the ailment.

“It’s a great project,” Floyd said. “The results have turned out fantastic so far.”

Brassel, a commercial songwriter and senior from Grenada, Miss., sang and played four songs on her acoustic Martin guitar to a small but appreciative audience. She said she is used to playing to small crowds.
Senior recording industry major Kristen Brassel performs one of her four songs during MTSU's Scholars Day April 5 in Murphy Center.

Senior recording industry major Kristen Brassel performs one of her four songs during MTSU’s Scholars Day April 5 in Murphy Center.

“I love a small audience. I play for waiters and people packing up every night,” Brassel, a senior from Grenada, Miss., said, adding that she has performed at Nashville’s Bluebird Café and Murfreesboro’s 3 Brothers.

“Being in recording industry, I forget what’s on campus. I haven’t gotten to see everything (at Scholars Day), but this is amazing to see.”

Todd Gary, recently hired as a part-time consultant and grant writer for the MTSU Office of Research, summed up the day perfectly.

“This is a fantastic time for students to share and showcase all of the work that they have put into it, all of the genius and scholarship,” he said. “This is the equivalent of a concert to a musician or a book signing to an author. This the culmination of all of their hard work and a very significant day.”

In addition to the musical and poetic performers, undergraduate and graduate students presented multimedia projects, faculty showcased their research posters and information booths for centers, institutes and programs on campus were available.

— Randy Weiler ( - MTSU News and Media Relations

"Review: Kristen Brassel, “Love and Lightning”"

“Love and Lightning is a breath of fresh air. This EP from Kristen Brassel captures the fascinating duality of youthful exuberance steeped with classic country. The songs are heartfelt, melodic and full of passion.”

Artist: Kristen Brassel

EP: Love and Lightning

Genre: Country / Pop

RIYL: Martina McBride, LeAnn Rimes, Michelle Branch, Kelly Clarkson

Kristen Brassel Love and Lightning

Budding singer-songwriter Kristen Brassel is an affable, intriguing young talent. The Northern Mississippi native has a beautifully clear vocal tone reminiscent of Martina McBride, Lee Ann Womack or Dolly Parton; the ease with which she navigates a melody and interprets lyrics certainly belies her age. But what’s most impressive about her new EP, Love and Lightning, is the polished and well-rounded songwriting that forms the base for her lilting voice to adorn.

Modern country often blurs the line with pop music, and this is no exception. However, it’s not a stretch to hear classic singer-songwriters like Parton or Loretta Lynn as inspiration to the type of songs that Brassel writes. They still maintain a nod to lyricism and melody that feels more timeless than trendy, and that’s a fine line for a young writer and performer to walk. Brassel does this with a deft edge by wrapping up her clever lyrics with rhythmic instrumentation and again, a staggeringly good vocal range. She makes it sound very easy, but in fact her voice is a rarity.

Each track is solid and radio-ready; there is no such thing as a misstep in any direction. And while the production is definitely noteworthy, the content of the songwriting is what makes them so compelling. These songs just work, either stripped-down or enhanced with a fantastic backing band as they are on this record. The title track is catchy, possibly only eclipsed by “Turn It Up,” an energetic sing-along that will have you pressing repeat. The mood switches with “Softly With Sin,” showing off a more climactic arrangement and a vulnerable quality that places the focus squarely on Brassel’s dynamic vocals. Another highlight is the sparser “How I’ll Remember You,” featuring a delicate vocal and simple guitar that does the song all kinds of justice.

Love and Lightning is a breath of fresh air. This EP from Kristen Brassel captures the fascinating duality of youthful exuberance steeped with classic country. The songs are heartfelt, melodic and full of passion. That’s not surprising given her youthful energy and Southern charm; but what is surprising is her seasoned vocal interpretation and performance. Love and Lightning is ready for a much larger audience; it’s pure, playful and full of personality. Keep your eye (and ears) open for Kristen Brassel.
 - Heidi Drockelman

"Kristen Brassel On ‘Love & Lightning,’ Her Grandfather, Romance & Pivotal Moments"

They say lightning never strikes the same spot twice. The same could be said about that life-affirming and life-altering experience known as true love. Nashville’s alluring captivator of vivid imagery and powerful vocal Kristen Brassel not only plucks that bone-shattering electricity once but five times on her forthcoming new project, Love & Lightning. Boasting five compelling tracks, the EP laces together varied aspects of what love means, peppered with plenty of romance and heartfelt tales of loss and redemption. “I always said true love is a flash in an instant, and it’s the moment you know. Lightning, too, is such an electrifying and bright and suspenseful moment. It happens in a second. That’s what true love is and that’s once-in-a-lifetime,” she shares with Popdust in an exclusive interview, of the importance of the title track.

Love at first sight is something she knows all too well, of course. “I am recently engaged, and this song is about my fiance. It’s about me realizing the first time that I really knew I loved him,” she says. In fact, her fiance is her lead guitarist and certainly understands what it means to be a working musician. “He’s always rockin’ ‘n ‘rollin’ with me. We are gone so much on the road, or maybe I’m writing and he’s recording. I don’t think any other person would understand what it takes to achieve dreams. I’m happy I have someone right beside me doing the same thing.”

Throughout her EP (expected to drop August 16, via Bluewater Music), Brassel threads together love in five very specific ways. She explains why: “It was the first time I had written a concept project, rather than writing a bunch of songs and throwing them together. I decided to do that as a challenge to myself, and I wanted to explore the different avenues of love. Each song has a specific moment or person in my life that have to do with love or relationships.”

Here, she details the inspiration behind the remaining four songs:

Turn It Up: “[This one] is my memory song. It’s about my high school love. It’s the first moment I got a taste of what it’s like to be charmed by someone and start dating. It’s that youthful and ecstatic feeling.”

Softly with Sin: “One of my best friends was going through that situation where she was committed to someone but was being pursued by someone else. She was debating whether to cross that line or not. When I was writing the EP and going through songs, I wanted to make sure there was at least one song in there that talked about the struggle of love, too. I think ‘Softly with Sin’ nails it on the head. You know, love can be tempted sometimes. The optimistic person that I am, the character doesn’t cheat but she stays true with her significant other. I like that better than her disregarding those feelings.”

Rest of Our Life: “I love this song. I know I should love my title track, but ‘Rest of Our Life’ is my favorite. It’s about my mom and dad. It was during a time when I was exploring the idea of marriage and what it meant to me. I was looking at my mom and dad’s marriage and came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to grow old with someone. I wanted to stay young with them forever and keep that young and in-love kind of feeling. My dad has a picture of my mom when she was 17. He keeps it in his wallet. The first line of the song is from that. That symbolized this time capsule he has.”

How I’ll Remember You: “This is the most personal song I’ve ever released. This is another type of love. It’s about my grandfather and I. He passed away in January. I started writing a song about him years ago and never finished it. He was the first person to teach me how to play guitar and how to write songs. He introduced me to music, in general. It was very important to me to introduce that love didn’t have to be with you and another partner. It could be you and your family, too. When he passed away, it was extremely important to remember him the way he was. So, I did my best to time capsule him in a song and carry that love around.”

Having been a long-time songwriter, Brassel admits it’s fairly easy for her to open up so emotionally and honestly. “It’s easier for me to open up emotionally if I’m by myself and pouring it all out. Over the years, as a writer, you learn to tap into that,” she says. She then adds that she’s never had to completely stop a song because it was too emotional to finish. “I’ve never said ‘I can’t finish a song.’ Finishing songs is never really the issue. It might be that if I write something really off the wall or it’s so personal that no one could possibly relate to it, I might be like ‘uh, this is a little too weird.’ That’s happened before.”

Also on Love & Lightning, the singer explores a varied stylistic and rhythmic approach. “As I grow as an artist, I have developed these rhythmic elements. I don’t know where it comes from, maybe it’s the pop influence in me,” she says. “It’s part of me when I start writing. It’s almost like breathing or blinking. I always start with a groove, when it comes to a song. The way it feels or moves really inspires the lyrics. My favorite part about ‘Love & Lightning’ is it talks about it never striking twice but at the same time the rhythm does. I love throwing in fun things like that.” Throughout this record’s creation, she says she listened to quite a bit of music that then found its way into her own special blend. “I was binging on Zac Brown Band, like his beachier stuff, and that inspired ‘Love & Lightning.’ For ‘Softly with Sin,’ I was listening to Striking Matches a lot. I had listened to the first season of the ‘Nashville’ TV show. The slower songs were really good. That’s what I was channeling with that one. My grandfather’s song is written in a different time signature. It’s reflective of what he grew up listening to, which was Conway Twitty and all these other Grand Ole Opry artists. ‘Rest of Our Life’ was my Maddie & Tae-style song. ‘Turn It Up’ is just bra-country, you know. It’s just fun.”

Pondering her life, she recalls two specific moments that define her, musically. “I would say definitely the first concert I ever went to impacted me greatly, which was the Dixie Chicks. It was at the Pyramid in Memphis. We were at the very top in the nosebleeds. I remember looking down and hearing Natalie wail on ‘Cowboy Take Me Away.’ That was the moment when I was like ‘oh my gosh. I want to run on that stage right now and do that. I want to sing with her so bad!’”

She continues:

“I went to the Orpheum in Memphis once, too, and saw Nora Jones when I was young. She’s such a huge influence. I love how every album is a different genre. It’s beautiful. She was the only concert I ever cried at. I remember thinking ‘wow! She sounds better than her recordings.’ That was when I thought ‘I want someone to say that about me. I want to have such a solid work ethic and make that statement true for myself.’”

Being in Nashville, she says she does, in fact, listen (and rather enjoy) mainstream country radio. “I wouldn’t say [radio] influences me. As far as subject matter goes, if I wrote about something that I didn’t feel was important to me, the song would lack the heart. That’s the whole reason of writing and performing. Yes, I do listen to mainstream country, and yes, I do enjoy it. There are beautiful songs in mainstream, but I try not to let that direct my music. I stay true to myself.”

For the rest of 2015, Brassel hopes to perform a slew of shows in and around Music City. Details are still being ironed out, but she does offer up a little bit of what she will be doing this year. “I’m playing some shows around Nashville. I always try to stay here. Mostly, I just signed my first publishing deal with Bluewater Music. That was a pivotal moment for me. Right now, I’m doing a lot of co-writing. As far as looking three months down the road, I plan on even more co-writing sessions and gearing up for the rest of the album. There will definitely be a showcase this fall.”

Speaking of songwriting, she dreams big and reveals several artists she’d love to cut her material. “I’m such a huge Kelly Clarkson fan. If I could get a cut by her, that’d be amazing. I’m really into Kelsea Ballerini right now. She’s so delicious and fun. I love what she’s doing. I really love Brett Eldredge, too. He doesn’t need me at all,” she laughs. “He’s a great write by himself. If we’re playing dream world, I’d say him. Also, Charlie Worsham has got this Jackson Brown-ness about him. He’s so 1970s songwriter goodness, and I love it. I’d say the last one would be Cam. As far as females, she is a great singer and an interesting writer. I’m really excited for what she has in store.”

Brassel has her sights set on 2016 for the release of her next full-length studio effort. - Jason Scott


Still working on that hot first release.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Kristen Brassel is a charming, creative, intriguing, and heartfelt person which is exactly how her music can be described. Raised in Northern Mississippi Kristen draws from her Southern background to tell compelling stories and create a blend of country, roots, and pop sounds. Her voice has a clear, pure tone reminiscent of Dolly Parton that captures audiences and delivers a powerful message.

She was spoon-fed country classics like Emmylou Harris and Loretta Lynn and used this foundation of country music to develop her sound and grow as a singer-songwriter. As a child she looked forward to piano, guitar and voice lessons and at twelve years old began writing her first songs. Combining influences such as the Dixie Chicks, Michelle Branch, Joni Mitchell, and Shania Twain, Kristen has created a country pop sound that is framed with clever lyrics, memorable melodies and rhythmic instrumentation delivered with an honest, passionate performance.

After moving to Nashville Kristen has made significant strides by releasing her first EP titled "Do You Know Kristen Brassel?" and music video "Sway" which received over a 1,000 views within the first week. Her most recent project “Love and Lightning” was released August 26th, 2015. The EP contains 5 handpicked songs that highlight Kristen’s vocal interpretation, songwriting, and personality. The single, also titled “Love and Lightning,” debuted on NoiseTrade on June 16th, 2015.

In addition to becoming a well rounded vocalist and songwriter, she has signed a management and publishing agreement with Bluewater Music in Nashville, TN and continues to perform with a full band and bring her high energy and enthusiasm to the stage. She has played at notable Nashville venues such as The Bluebird Cafe, The Tin Roof, Silver Dollar Saloon and community and charity events.

"One of my favorite quotes is by Kris Kristofferson: "Tell the truth. Sing with passion. Work with laughter. Love with heart. 'Cause that's all that matters in the end', and I think this is the best summary of who I am and what my music is about: Truth, Passion, Love, Laughter, and Heart."

Band Members