July 15, 2011 at 9:36 am , by Ron Kelly
Who hasn’t dreamed of rolling the dice and taking a shot at becoming a music superstar? It’s a fantasy most of us have probably entertained at one time or another—even if (like me) you couldn’t carry a tune if somebody wrapped it up and put it in a shopping bag with reinforced handles. That’s why we’ve talked singer-songwriter Margaret Durante into being LHJ’s lady on the inside. Margaret is one of Nashville’s freshest new talents and she’s currently living the dream. She’s also getting a taste of the heady highs and lonely lows that come along with living far away from home while she tries to get a high-profile music career off the ground. In a series of guest blogs exclusively for our Ladies’ Lounge readers, Margaret will allow us all to live vicariously through her whirlwind experiences, both onstage and off. Get to know Margaret in her introduction, below, then welcome her to the LHJ family, post a show of support and be sure to check back for further installments of her wild ride.
Hey, readers! My name is Margaret Durante and I’m thrilled that Ladies’ Home Journal is giving me the opportunity to offer you all a behind-the-scenes peek into my adventures down in Nashville. I’m just your average 23-year-old daughter/sister/granddaughter/niece/best friend who also happens to be chasing down my dream of living in Music City and making a name for myself in the crazy music industry. I currently have a single on the radio called “Maybe Tonight” and I’m finishing my first album after living here for four years.
There are four women in my family of five, so an issue of LHJ was never hard to come by in my house as I was growing up. Having the chance now to take you all along on the ups and downs of my musical journey is surreal, and it all started when I teamed up with the folks at LHJ this past June. I joined them at an event they cohosted with CMT One Country on the eve of the 40th Annual CMA Festival, during which 10,000 country music fans descend upon Nashville to attend concerts, meet-and-greets, fan luncheons and a ton of other crazy events that celebrate everything country. That week was a huge deal to me as I’m still fairly new to the scene. It was so great to kick off the week working alongside other artists at this incredible LHJ/CMT event, preparing backpacks of food at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee for hungry children who might not have the means to eat over the weekend or summer vacation. It was a wonderful way for us artists to remind ourselves that we are part of a community that can use our collective voices to call attention to helpful programs like this. (Click here if you want to help!)
Continue reading Margaret’s first installment after the jump …
Categories: Do Good, Entertainment, Family, Fun, Ladies' Lounge, Relationships | Tags: CMT, country music, Feeding America, GAC, Margaret Durante, Maybe Tonight, Nashville, Second Harvest, Tennessee | 6 Comments
June 16, 2011 at 9:15 am , by Ron Kelly
For the second year in a row, Ladies’ Home Journal kicked off CMA Music Festival week by hosting a volunteer afternoon at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. This year, though, the afternoon also served as a kickoff for our brand spankin’ new partnership with CMT One Country. Click here to read about how our partnership’s Do Good Rewards program can lead to you winning a trip to the CMT Music Awards in Nashville next year!)
We had some amazing musical talent lending us their muscles and elbow grease for the afternoon, including Steel Magnolia, Jimmy Wayne, Crystal Bowersox, Carter’s Chord, Margaret Durante and Coldwater Jane. Along with reps from both LHJ and CMT, these artists donated some of the very little free time they had during their frenetic week to sweat alongside us prepping supplies for Feeding America‘s BackPack program, which was designed to meet the needs of hungry kids at times when other resources aren’t available (such as weekends and school vacations). By the afternoon’s end, our volunteers had prepped 2,107 bags of food for the program! At the CMT Awards the next night, other musical acts signed some symbolic bags to be auctioned off to raise more funds for the program, to which CMT makes a generous donation in lieu of those pricey artist gift bags other awards shows usually give out.
To keep the spirit of our volunteer afternoon alive, LHJ and CMT are now partnering up for a Do Good Summer Virtual Food Drive. If you’re able, we’d love it if you could contribute to it, which will then in turn provide much needed food to programs such as the BackPack effort. Any amount is greatly appreciated. Of course, if you’d like to volunteer at a Feeding America food bank, that’s another great way to do good and make a difference. As you can see from the slideshow below (with Carter’s Chord’s “Love a Little Bigger” as a musical background), our volunteer afternoon was a lot of hard work but also a lot of fun. Click here to find the nearest food bank in your area. Be sure to let us know how it goes!
For more pictures from our volunteer event, additional info on the BackPack program and stats from Second Harvest, read on after the jump.
All photos by John Russell.
Categories: Do Good, Entertainment, Food, Fun, Ladies' Lounge | Tags: Carter's Chord, CMA, CMT, Coldwater Jane, country music, Crystal Bowersox, Do Good, Feeding America, Jimmy Wayne, Margaret Durante, Nashville, Second Harvest, Steel Magnolia | 5 Comments
June 23, 2010 at 10:46 am , by Ron Kelly
Earlier this month, I wrote about my pending trip to Nashville to soak up the CMA Fest and to volunteer with hot country duo Coldwater Jane at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. Despite the stifling temperatures outside, Coldwater’s Brandon Jane, Leah Crutchfield and I all had a blast sorting through and boxing up close to 12,000 pounds of food with the rest of our top-notch volunteer group. The three of us left incredibly inspired by the Second Harvest team and amazed at the never-ending great work they do. (Special shout-outs to our group leaders Ben and Toni!) Check out this video to get more details on what we humbly did that afternoon and how rewarding an experience it was. You also get to hear Coldwater Jane’s addictive track “Bring On the Love” and see ’em in action.
And just in case you haven’t donated yet to our online food drive for Second Harvest, please consider doing so. (It’s up and running through July 30.) Though the floods were in early May, the area will be in recovery mode for quite some time. Middle Tennessee’s Davidson county is battling $2 billion in damages alone. Across the state, more than 11,000 homes and business have suffered extensive damages and many families have been displaced.
Second Harvest itself was partially flooded and had no electricity for several days, which resulted in the loss of $200,000 worth of perishable food. Their Kids Café and BackPack Program, which provides low-income kids with nutritious meals and snacks, were both temporarily interrupted. According to Second Harvest, the number of people seeking emergency food has increased by 50 percent after the floods and those numbers sadly don’t seem to be waning.
Here’s the good news, though: Just $6.25 helps to serve 24 meals, so it’s easy to help make a big difference. Please do, if you can, by clicking here and donating.
My thanks to Coldwater Jane for their hard work (and laughs), and to everyone at Second Harvest for all of their help in setting up our volunteer session and food drive, especially Meghan, Heidi, Heather, Ben and Toni. Keep up the great work!
Categories: Do Good, Entertainment, Family, Food, Fun, Health, Ladies' Lounge | Tags: Coldwater Jane, country music, flooding, Middle Tennessee, Nashville, Nashville Rising, Second Harvest | 14 Comments
June 1, 2010 at 12:48 pm , by Ron Kelly
In Middle Tennessee, folks are still suffering through the aftereffects of widespread flooding that occurred after May’s record-breaking rainfall devastated the area. In addition to close to two dozen deaths, there’s been an estimated $1.5 billion in damages and the recovery process is going to be a long one—expected to be one of the costliest in U.S. history. Many people didn’t have flood insurance and have lost most of everything they had.
Through it all, the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee has shifted into high gear despite having its operations compromised for a few days itself. They’ve already distributed more than 500,000 pounds of food in the wake of the floods and, as they so eloquently put it, they “remain focused on doing what we do best: getting food, water and basic necessities to hungry people.” Of the 46 counties the Bank serves, 31 had been declared federal disaster areas so you can imagine their intensified need for food donations, monetary contributions and volunteers.
Well, they’ve got my support. I’m heading down to Nashville next week for the CMA Music Festival and I was happy to schedule some time to volunteer. I’ve even invited sisters Brandon Jane and Leah Crutchfield—country music’s Coldwater Jane (left)—to roll up their sleeves and join me for an afternoon in the Second Harvest warehouse. (Good news: They’re in!) What we need to do now, though, is make sure there’s an ample amount of food to sort through and box up. That’s where you come in.
No matter where you live, we’ve made it easy for you to help us help Second Harvest. All you have to do is click here to donate to Ladies’ Home Journal’s virtual Middle Tennessee Food Drive. Any amount you can spare to give will be greatly appreciated. Got $6.25? With that small amount, you can help serve 24 meals!
Thanks in advance for your generosity. And if you live in Nashville or happen to be visiting anytime soon, check out the amazing Hands On Nashville website, which makes it easy to find other worthwhile volunteer projects that are helping to rebuild the area.
Categories: Do Good, Entertainment, Family, Food, Fun, Health, Ladies' Lounge | Tags: CMA Music Festival, Coldwater Jane, country music, floods, Hands on Nashville, Middle Tennessee, Second Harvest | 13 Comments