It was a devilishly hot June evening, and I was out on Beale Street with a couple of friends. We were walking into a local hotspot, Tin Roof, when I heard (what I thought was) Ariana Grande in the flesh, singing No Tears Left to Cry. But to my surprise, it was Annalise Mahanes with her band, Glow Co.
I was blown away!
I am 99.9% sure I am straight, but you know when you have those moments where you question it a little?! Last time that happened, it was Ariana performing at the latest VMAs. DAMN. That’s what happened that night with Annalise.
Annalise (pronounced like “Ana” from the movie Frozen) is the lead singer of the band Glow Co. The group is based in Nashville, Tennessee, but travels to different Tin Roofs in multiple cities/states. So, here in Memphis, we are lucky enough to witness this band’s pure talent quite a few times each year.
Not only is Annalise freakishly vocally talented, but her stage presence is everything. She knows how to work a crowd because she genuinely looks like she loves what she is doing. And doesn’t someone who looks happy just make you happy too?
After being a total fangirl at more shows than I’d like to admit, I asked Annalise if she would
- be my friend and
- be our first Women Wednesday superstar.
I am beyond excited to share her story with you and introduce her as our FIRST Women Wednesday. I hope I do it justice.
Annalise was born on February 15 in Ashland, Virginia (only 45 minutes away from where we all grew up!).
Annalise was and will always be the black sheep of her family. There are a few definitions I found for black sheep, most with a very negative connotation, but I like this one:
“the black sheep is simply the person who deviates from the family rules.”
Annalise’s family lived in the country. They grew up in the country. And they stayed in the country. But her dream was to move away and sing. Her dad was her rock and her cheerleader when it came to following her dream. He loved who she was, and, with his support, she was able to embrace her uniqueness and feel comfortable in the skin she was in.
When she turned 18 and graduated high school, she hit the road for Nashville.
About a year and a half ago, Annalise lost her father tragically and suddenly, at which point her perspective on life changed.
“Time is never promised. In life, you should really just do what you want to do, and be yourself, instead of wasting time trying to make everyone else comfortable around you. Go ahead and be unique and celebrate that.”
When the loss of her father hits her the hardest, she thinks back on the letter he wrote to his unborn children at just 21-years-old while stationed in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm. On two pages, front and back, he wrote all the life advice he could come up with. His one quote that gets her through the toughest times (and is now tattooed on her arm in his handwriting) is, “Be brave even when you may not feel brave.”
When Annalise moved to Nashville, her first year of college, someone she thought she trusted used her passion of music to take advantage of her. At a party at his apartment, with the music too loud, a guy she had co-written with before told her he had been working on a piece of music that she’d enjoy and asked her to come listen. She did so without question, only to turn around and realize he had trapped her in his bedroom to sexually assault her.
It took Annalise over a year to share her story with anyone. When she finally told her at the time long-term boyfriend, he was nothing but supportive and suggested she go to therapy.
Now, six years later, surrounded by people she trusts, she is more than ready to speak up and let others know they aren’t alone. I asked her what she would tell her 18-year-old self, or anyone, who is in that current situation. Her answer:
She said being able to share her story gave her so much power over what happened. She spent the first year embarrassed, thinking no one would believe her. But, she said that when she was finally able to realize that she was the victim in the situation, she almost wanted a sense of justice. Even if it was just being able to share and be surrounded by people who would listen and are there for her.
If you are going through something and feel you aren’t ready to share, consider finding a therapist. Annalise said that was one of the best moves she made for herself. You can also visit the metoo movement website if you need resources. Or if you want to share your story anonymously, you can do that here. If there is anything we can do to help you, please let us know!!
I was inspired by Annalise’s openness to sharing this with not only me, but whoever may read this post. I hope it encourages anyone else who has gone through what she went through to share their stories as well. If you want to share parts of your stories in the comments or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, we are here for anyone who wants to be heard.
Pursuing Her Dream
The environment Annalise was in at this point was toxic. She moved off campus, away from her attacker, so that she would feel safer. She felt disconnected and unfulfilled by college, and after two years, decided to quit and pursue her real dreams. She set out for Broadway, the street in Nashville ‘that never sleeps.’ Broadway is set up so that musicians, instrumentalists, singers, etc. get paired up with each other randomly. That is where she met Cal.
Cal was the first musician she was able to write with since the attack. She had been singing with his band for a bit, and they vibed. She knew the next step she needed to take to become a better artist was co-writing, but she was nervous and uncomfortable with the idea, for obvious reasons.
Her and Cal scheduled a co-write that she came so close to canceling. She said,
“I pushed myself to go and I am so glad I did because right after that first session, there was this wild chemistry. Songwriting was very easy with Cal. I felt able to be very open with him, and he was doing the same with me.”
The Band’s Beginnings
About six months into Annalise and Cal’s musical relationship, Cal convinced his friend, Mike, back home in Pittsburgh, to move to Nashville and play with them. And so GlowCo was formed!
Meet the Band
Glow Co.’s Journey with Tin Roof
They decided to leave the Nashville Broadway scene in search of a setting that more resembled their sound and stage presence. They were able to connect with Tin Roof and play cover gigs in not only Tennessee, but Kentucky, Ohio, the Carolinas, and more! They use their weekend cover gigs to practice, meet wonderful fans and get better at the art of performing. And on the weekdays, they spend their time writing originals.
They are planning their fourth trip to California next month where they will meet with producers, songwriters, etc. and continue work on their new music. LA is thriving with new, creative pop music and it’s definitely become one of the band’s happy places. It’s a hell of a drive, but they find ways to keep it interesting, whether it’s a game of trivia, keeping the routes scenic and different every time or with their latest addiction- Sims.
I wouldn’t choose to be in a car for more than a day of travel time, but if I had to, this doesn’t sound like the worst group of people to be with!
It’s certainly not easy trying to make it in the music industry. It is even harder to be taken seriously as a woman in such a male-dominated industry. From this New York Times article, Dr. Smith, an associate professor at the University of Sothern California and the founder of its Annenberg Inclusion Initiative said,
“When it comes to women’s ability to contribute and to lead, they’re being shut out of the process.”
The same article analyzed the top 600 songs from 2012 to 2017 and revealed that of the 1,239 performing artists, only 22.4% of them were women.
I asked Annalise about her experience so far, and she told me it was a challenge to be heard and seen as equals to Mike and Cal. Some people they have worked with barely even acknowledge her existence. On top of not being taken seriously, the suggestion of sexualizing Annalise to reach fame quickest is often the suggested strategy. Just be sexy for Instagram, and you’re in.
But when you’ve got talent like her and her partners do, it certainly doesn’t feel right to belittle it to try and play by society’s rules. She told me how lucky she is to have Mike and Cal at her side, because they acknowledge these struggles and play their part in ensuring she is heard and respected.
But also, being a woman is WONDERFUL. I asked Annalise what she liked most about being a woman in the industry. She talked about the already huge, and still growing, platforms that performers like Lady Gaga, Kesha, Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus, and other woman are creating to empower females and bring to light the issues that female artists, and women in general, face. She hopes to do that with her music and her voice, too.
“I am happy to be part of a generation that is opening up and starting to use their voice. It’s a really powerful thing.”
In a world where the number of followers you have seems to be more important than what your talent is (and the average time it takes a human to form a first impression is a mere two-seconds) how does one make it in such a saturated industry?
Annalise said the hardest thing for them as a band is focusing and perfecting the social media side of things.
“The three of us grew up in the 90s, so we were a part of the technology boom, but there are teenagers nowadays that have always had it in their life, and they don’t remember landlines or flip phones. Competition is fierce. There are people that are younger and more successful – with more followers and higher numbers, and we are still trying to figure it out. Social media demands perfection, and it’s hard to know what everyone is going to be interested in.”
It’s a weird new world out there, but Annalise loves how social media can make you feel so close to your fans. Fans can be states, countries, or worlds away and it’s still just as easy to connect. At this point in the digital age, you can either push against the trend or take advantage of the opportunity. Glow Co. is working it and keeps striving to reach the people who believe in them and want to be a part of their journey (like me!).
The band has been busy little beavers. Recording, traveling, producing, you name it. Fingers crossed; They may be blessing us with new music in 2019! Don’t worry, when I know, you’ll know! I AM SO EXCITED!!
- Annalise Mahanes is awesome.
- Mike and Cal are awesome.
- Glow Co. is awesome.
- ↓↓↓ And you should definitely follow them to keep up with their latest! ↓↓↓
Glow Co.’s New Website is UP! You can check out their show schedule so that you don’t miss them playing at a Tin Roof near you!
I asked Annalise about doing a second interview with her, Cal and Mike once their new music is released!! So, stick with us, and you’ll get all the good good. 😉