That something special has held Tom, Mike, and Rachel together through all manner of personal and professional struggles over the past several years: from relationship upheavals, to the departure of band-mate Cheyenne Kimball, to long stretches away from loved ones on the road, to wondering whether their music would ever catch fire. Fortunately it did when Gloriana’s 2009 self-titled debut album soared to No. 2 on the Billboard Country Albums chart propelled by the gold-certified single “Wild At Heart”. That same year, they spent two years on the road with Taylor Swift and won both an American Music Award for Breakthrough Artist and a coveted ACM Award for Top New Vocal Group in 2010.
It’s been a minute since that heady time, but the wait has been worth it. The band’s first single “(Kissed You) Good Night”, from A Thousand Miles Left Behind, achieved several career milestones for Gloriana. It was the fastest-rising single of their career, Certified GOLD by the R.I.A.A., and is the #5 most played song on Country Radio for 2012. There is no question that their new music marks the beginning of a new chapter in the group’s creative evolution - a willingness and confidence to write songs taken from personal experience and introspection.
Gloriana released their new single “Can’t Shake You” and it has quickly become a standout track from A Thousand Miles Left Behind with fans routinely commenting on how relatable the song is for the struggles to move on after a break up. “Can’t Shake You,” written by Tom Gossin, Stephanie Bentley, and James Slater, is currently climbing the charts, with the accompanying video in rotation at both CMT and GAC.
”A Thousand Miles Left Behind literally and figuratively describes our lives over the past three years,” Tom explains. “It's also a testament to how we're constantly learning and growing with every experience on the road, because this album is really about just that — growth.”
The album, their second produced by Grammy Award-winning songwriter and producer Matt Serletic, is Gloriana’s most personally revealing and emotionally resonant work to date, relaying their hopes, dreams, disappointments, and triumphs against a richly textured country backdrop. The band members co-wrote every song, often collaborating with Serletic (who has worked with Willie Nelson, The Band Perry, and Matchbox Twenty) as well as several of Nashville’s finest composers, including Josh Kear (Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum), Hillary Lindsey (Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride), Tommy Lee James (Tim McGraw, Trisha Yearwood), Stephanie Bentley (Faith Hill, Martina McBride), and Wendell Mobley (Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney).
The result is an engaging mix of up-tempo, good-time numbers (“Wanna Take You Home,” “Sunset Lovin’,” “Go On…Miss Me,” “Doin’ It Our Way”) and graceful, heartfelt songs (current Top 20 single “(Kissed You) Good Night,” “Can’t Shake You,” “Turn My World Around,” “Carolina Rose,” “Soldier Song”) that showcase Gloriana’s signature harmonies, as well as their ear for irresistible melodies and undeniable knack for story-telling. Tom’s songs tend to deal with the allure of fame (“Gold Rush”) and how his wandering lifestyle has impacted his relationship (“Carolina Rose” and “Can’t Shake You”). “A lot of the songs on the album are written from the point of view of the person I would like to be,” he says. “’Like on ‘(Kissed You) Good Night,’ my alter ego comes in and does what I’m afraid to do in real life. It’s ultimately a song about not ending up with regrets because the worst thing is to look back on something and think, ‘I wish I had done things differently.’”
Mike found himself digging deepest emotionally on “Turn My World Around,” where he sketches out one of the darkest times in his life. “Before Gloriana, I was living in North Carolina and I was broke,” he says. “I didn't have a car. I was sleeping on my brother’s couch. I was in a rut thinking, ‘Is anything ever going to happen?’ The song is about meeting somebody who pulled me out of that bad place and saved me.” Rachel’s most personal moment “Where My Heart Belongs”, closes out the album with her happy memories of growing up in Georgia. “I wanted to reflect on that carefree childhood vibe and how circumstances change as we grow older,” she says. “My parents have since split up and everyone has moved on with their lives. I wanted to express in a subtle way that even though things change, memories remain.”
The members of Gloriana come by their songwriting bonafides through a lifetime steeped in music. Born in the upstate New York town of Utica, Tom and Mike were raised by parents who “worshipped songwriters,” Tom says. “My dad was always saying, ‘Hold on, we’ve got to put the right song on for this’ before anything could happen.” The boys, who both took up piano at age four, had an old-school upbringing, complete with Sunday dinner at their grandmother’s house after church with their entire extended family clustered around a folding table. “My dad was a truck driver and my mom cut hair in our kitchen for extra cash,” Tom says. “Being from a poor family and living in the middle of nowhere — our lives were a country song. My parents were born and raised in Utica. People don’t leave the area. I was the rebel kid who was like, ‘I’m going to get the hell out of here, you just watch.’”
After graduating early from high school at age 16, Tom enrolled at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington then dropped out two years later to focus on music. By this time, Mike had followed him there and the brothers began playing gigs five nights a week, anywhere they could, to make money. “My mom was like, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to go to community college?’” Mike recalls, “and I said, ‘No, Mom, this is going to work, trust me.’” Before the brothers knew it, ten years had passed. “It breaks you down,” Mike says. “It makes you look at yourself and wonder, ‘Am I doing the right thing?’” The Gossins decided to move to Nashville, which is where they met Florida native Rachel Reinert who lived in Marietta, GA, and Santa Ana, CA, before signing a publishing deal at 16 and moving to Music City at 18 to launch a career as a singer-songwriter. Tom and Mike moved into her spare bedroom. “They slept in the same bed with a mound of pillows separating them,” Rachel says with a laugh. The group spent the next six months getting their sound together before sending a demo to Serletic’s Emblem Music Group, which signed the band and set their burgeoning career in motion.
Their final show before hitting the road for two years with Swift in 2009 was at the sports bar Wild Wing Café in Columbia, SC, where they were literally paid in chicken wings. Next thing they knew, Gloriana were performing for thousands of people at an arena in Evansville, Indiana. For the past three years, they have toured constantly, opening for such artists as Alan Jackson, Jason Aldean, Zac Brown Band, and Brooks & Dunn. In 2010, the band launched its first nationwide headlining trek, “The Long Hot Summer Tour.”
“The first night we opened for Alan Jackson, we asked him if he had any advice for a group starting out, and he said, ‘Man, it’s all about the music, make sure you stay true to the music,’” Mike says.
Gloriana released their critically acclaimed second studio album A Thousand Miles Left Behind at the end of July and it debuted at #2 on the Billboard Country Albums Chart and at #10 on Billboard’s Top 200. The rave reviews poured in, all impressed with the growth Gloriana displayed on the 11 tracks of the album. That growth did not go unnoticed by all with Gloriana getting nominated for three 2012 American Country Awards for Breakthrough Artist of the Year; Single of the Year: Breakthrough Artist “(Kissed You) Good Night;” and Music Video: Group or Collaboration “(Kissed You) Good Night.” The trio is currently out on the road performing headlining shows across the country.
“I think through the growth of this band, and all the ups and downs of this rollercoaster ride that we’ve been on, it feels like we’ve finally found our place. A Thousand Miles Left Behind is it; it just feels right,” Mike continues. “This is us, Gloriana, singing about where we are in our lives and the experiences we’ve had. That’s what country music is all about.”