When Jennifer Nettles and several of her friends took the stage Sunday night (Nov. 3) at Marathon Music Works in Nashville for a preview of her debut solo album, two things came immediately to mind.
First of all, she looks incredible after having her baby. Secondly, I've recently missed hearing her voice.
Thankfully, she's back -- and has she got something to say. Just as she promised, this new album is full of diverse influences and inspiration. It's a little country, a little soul and 100 percent honest, much like Nettles herself. With songs ranging in topics from love and family to simple sheer gratitude, the singer is clearly writing what she knows.
And she's writing with a lot of famous names, too, many of whom showed up to perform with her at the event sponsored by Spotify, the music streaming service.
Richard Marx -- yep, that Richard Marx -- took the stage to play what Nettles calls their barnburner of a tune, "Know You Wanna Know." Will Hoge, another Nettles co-writer, dropped by to sing his new single "Strong," and he and Nettles also performed a Tom Petty/Stevie Nicks classic, "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around." Little Big Town's Phillip Sweet also performed with her, but the biggest duet of the night had to be Nettles' smokin' collaboration with Ronnie Milsap on his classic "Stranger in My House."
Perhaps the most incredible part of the evening was counting the number of stars simply in the audience to support their friend. Cassadee Pope, Dustin Lynch, Lauren Alaina , Maggie Rose, JT Hodges, Nashville star Chris Carmack, Pretty Little Liars star Lucy Hale and American Idol's Kree Harrison were all in the house enjoying the "biscuit bar" from the Southern restaurant and the great music from their pal. Everyone seemed content to sit back and stay out of the spotlight for the evening.
The beauty of the country music community is that the neighborly vibe is truly palpable. How appropriate was it that Nettles closed the evening with a rocking rendition of "With a Little Help From My Friends"?
"That Girl," Nettles' debut solo single, is available on iTunes. Look for her Rick Rubin-produced solo debut album to be released soon.