The female in question is the band’s frontperson, Heather Russell, but she is quick to share the credit with her bandmates, including her husband, Kane Russell.
“I couldn’t really be Paris Luna in this way without all the guys,” Russell said. “And so, it was definitely all of our parts that made the win, for sure.”
The inaugural GMA ceremony was held June 16 at the Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta. There were 16 categories in all genres, and Paris Luna was among the six nominees in the Rock Female category. The awards show was organized to recognize emerging artists across the states, who were nominated for the prize by their fan base. The winners were chosen by an industry panel who judged the artists on such criteria as image, brand and quality of music.
The program was co-hosted by Carrollton native Sari Rose, who hosts a daily show on WKHX (Kicks 101.5 FM).
Russell said it was an electric moment when her category was announced.
“All of a sudden my name started appearing on the screen, and then they announced my name, and everybody screamed and that was awesome,” she said. “We went up there and I had to say a little acceptance speech. It was a beautiful award, very nice award, it was an awesome, awesome night.”
The after-party was held at the Gold Room nightclub, where a reception was held for all the winners, the hosts, and special guests, like legendary producer Alan Walden, co-founder of Capricorn Records in Macon. She had a long conversation with Walden, during which “he told me all the inside stories about Lynyrd Skynyrd” (whom he managed in the early 1970s), as well as providing her with some career advice.
“The main focus of what he was saying was about hard work and your ambition and things of that nature, and he was complimenting me on mine,” Russell said. “He just had some nice things (to say) about me, so I listened to everything he had to say because that’s where it’s at. Those people know how it’s done.”
She said she has learned that making such contacts is vital in the music profession.
“The hardest part of it all is … networking and who you know. It kind of sometimes helps when people start getting to know you as a good player, or a good writer because then you start surrounding yourself with other good players — and then you start to put on good shows, and people come out, and it starts the magic happening.”
Networking has paid off for the band this year, as the group has worked on a follow-up to its “City Lights” album four years ago. That debut was rewarded with a very prestigious contract with the Discovery Network, which used the group’s music on dozens of programs across 187 countries.
Over the past year, Russell and her bandmates have formed alliances with many movers and shakers in the rock industry, including west Georgia native Barry Waldrep, whose name alone has opened many new doors. In fact, Waldrep has inducted the group into his “Band of Brothers & Sisters,” a group of artists from all genres and which include members of such groups as Flatt Lonesome, Sol Junky and rising star Kurt Thomas.
The band performed Saturday with Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ and other groups for the second annual “Rock and Ride” benefit concert in Atlanta.
But most of Russell’s time will be spent on working at the renowned Blackbird Studio in Nashville, home of an equally well-known Neve 8078 mixing console. Along with her husband and bandmates, she will be joined in the work by other musical and production talents, among whom will be guitarist and songwriter Peter Stroud, who has worked with Sheryl Crow, Don Henley, Sarah McLachlan and others.
“That had been one of my huge stress points for my self. I have all my tunes; I’m ready to go,” she said.
However, this collection of sounds may not be released as a regular CD, reflecting a large change in the music industry with the rise of the download culture.
“In the way the markets changed in music, because of downloads, you don’t exactly have to put out a six-song CD anymore, or an album, you can just release a song — and release another one if you want to. I’m looking forward to it. I think it will be a neat thing.
“If things go right,” she added, “I can have it out possibly by the fall. It’s a pretty quick process, doing it in Nashville. I definitely would like a song released, at least ‘Southern Girl,’ because that seems to be the one that, when we play out, people really wrap themselves around, so I can’t wait to get that one out.”