Q+A with Kandi Lowe, DJ for KIX, on her new show preparing for the Palm Coast Songwriters Festival.
The world’s best songwriters are coming to Palm Coast for the annual Palm Coast Songwriters Festival, April 28 to May 1, at the Daytona State College amphitheater. These writers have collectively written hundreds of hit songs, many of which you’d recognize, even if you’re not a country music fan. Last week, I met up with Kandi Lowe, a KIX Country 98.7 DJ who has interviewed many of the songwriters for her own show that will be aired on KIX 6-7 p.m. Sundays through April 24, which is the Sunday before the festival. You can get tickets to the festival on www.palmcoastsongwritersfestival.com. What follows is an edited transcript of the video Q+A, which you can watch below.
What are some of your favorite moments from these interviews with the songwriters?
One of my first stories that I heard was from a man named Kent Blazy, who discovered Garth Brooks. Garth was selling boots and wanted to do demos in his studio. So they sat down and wrote together and shopped the songs around. Nobody wanted Garth; who wants to hear a guy named “Garth”? After shopping it around for a year, Garth Brooks played it one night at the Bluebird Cafe, and someone from Capitol Records was there. The rest, I guess they say, is history. So that became his first No. 1 song: “If Tomorrow Never Comes.”
And Kent Blazy is one of the people coming to the Songwriters Festival.
Yes, he's coming back. He's been here for a couple years. The first year we had a handful of songwriters, and it's just grown every year. A lot of them like to come back, and we’re adding new faces every year as well.
[RELATED: Check out this 2019 interview with a songwriter who is returning this year to the festival: James Slater.]
Who else have you interviewed for your show?
Brock Berryhill, Paul Overstreet. We have Jeffrey Steele coming back; he has an incredibly long list of hits that he's written. And I'm still actively talking to them for the shows, because our songwriters are still writing songs; their songs are still moving up the charts. It's not like one-and-done with them.
You almost feel like you are in a living room with the songwriters, and they're just telling you their stories so it's a different experience than when you hear it on the radio.
Another song you mentioned when you're prepping for this: “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” (made famous by Kenny Chesney).
Paul Overstreet was telling me that he was with his wife and they were in the feed store. And she was kind of a little bit all over him. And he's kind of like, “What is your deal? We're at the tractor store.” So gave him that little look, and as he walked out of there, he started singing, “She thinks my tractor’s sexy,” and he started singing it to her in the kitchen. He would sing it to his friends as a joke, and they all thought it was great. So it evolved from there into becoming a big song.
It seems like that's a common theme: Songs turn into songs by accident.
A lot of them will literally walk around with their phones or voice memos, and if something comes across their mind, they’ll mentioned that into their phone. And then later on when they're trying to come up with something to write when they're with some of these big stars, they'll pull out some of this material, and some of it clicks right away. Some of it will take years to click.
What’s it like to be a DJ? Do people ever recognize you in a grocery store from your voice?
It has happened in drive-thrus. They’re like, “That’s really you? Well, I've got something extra special for you.” So in that aspect, it's fun.
Do you like the music you play? Do you secretly wish you were playing rock or rap instead?
Pretty much everyone likes a whole range of music. Country is always going to be part of my heritage. I grew up in East Tennessee, and all the music that I heard with my cousins at Christmas was country. It’s ingrained in my DNA.
The pandemic sent you and lots of other people home to work. What’s that been like for you?
Sometimes I'll do the show in the KIX studio (in Bunnell). I live in St. Augustine, so during the pandemic, they helped me build a studio in my closet, just so that I wouldn't have to go out if it wasn't feasible. So yeah, you're sitting in your closet, and you got your clothes hanging here, and you're talking to everyone and no one all at the same time.
What gave you the idea to do your KIX show about the songwriters?
I do a lot of the production for the stations, and I was writing the promos for the songwriters show. And we were looking at the massive number of hits that they have, the top 25 the top 5s, and it was just overwhelming. There's no way we could get to all of them. But some of them are such good stories and such good songs that I decided well, let's expand on that. So everything you hear on the show during that hour is written by one of our songwriters for the most part. They're all at least a top 25 and above. But some of these people could have literally hundreds of hits.