Music In the Barn: Meet Artist Lisa Stewart Seals

Lisa Stewart Seals moved to Nashville from Louisville, MS as the recipient Belmont University's Roy Acuff Scholarship Award. She entered the national scene during her senior year while studying music at Belmont when she signed with BNA/RCA Records. After the completion of her first album, an extensive promotional tour took place. During a TV appearance, executive producer Jim Owens saw what he was looking for as the co-host of his nationally syndicated Entertainment News Show, #1 Country. Since then, Lisa has hosted multiple national TV shows and served as a red carpet correspondent for E! Television Network. She juggled her career as a touring musician, TV host, print model and actor for 7 years, living in both Nashville and Malibu, CA. 

In 2003, Lisa married Brady Seals. As a songwriter, Lisa was honored to have penned the 2006 Gospel Song of The Year "Sky Full of Angels", recorded by both TaRanda Greene and Reba McEntire. She made the decision to come off of the road as a touring musician to spend more time with her family. Today she maintains a ProTools voice over studio with a list of clients including Target, Banana Republic, Macy's, Allstate and more. Lisa is also still in front of the camera and appears in multiple TV commercials and films including "Country Strong" starring Gwynneth Paltrow, and most recently, the short film "How I Got Made". She can also be seen next month on The CW Network's hit show "The Vampire Diaries".

Music In the Barn: Meet Artist Regie Hamm

A hit songwriter, artist and producer, Regie Hamm has penned over 20 #1 hits,many of them in Christian music. He hit the Billboard Top 20 as an artist in 2003,and later went on to see his solo-written song "Time Of My Life" (sung by 2008 American Idol winner David Cook) stay at #1 for 4 months on the pop charts, making it the longest running number one pop song by a Nashville based songwriter in history - beating out Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" by one week. Oprah called it the "official theme song of the 2008 Summer Olympics," and David Cook announced that with the song, Regie had hit a chord with people.

But the real story of Regie's personal journey has had all the twists, turns, and drama of a Hollywood movie. He was raised in Pentecostal churches, tent revivals, and all night singings. But rose from those humble beginnings to experience unprecedented success in the music industry, writing 16 number one hits from 1994 to 2000. With Grammy and Dove nominations, and winning SESAC's Songwriter of the Year award four times, Regie was about to launch into that same stratosphere as a pop artist signed to Universal Records.

Nothing would prepare him, however, for the drama he would face in adopting a little girl from China in 2003, embarking on a 5 year oddessy to discover her severe genetic disorder, watching his life and a career spin out of control and finally landing on the other side in the rarest of places. Regie and his family have experienced the highest of highs ...and the lowest of lows, and have overcome enormous obstacles on a journey that would test not only their physical resources and their faith, but their very sanity. Regie Hamm's amazing story is chronicled in his book, Angels & Idols, and has recently been optioned for a Hollywood film.

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Music In the Barn: Meet Artist Gordon Kennedy

Gordon Kennedy Bio

By: Brittany Joy Cooper


Gordon Kennedy is a multi Grammy Award-winning songwriter and producer, world-class guitarist and visionary at the forefront of Nashville’s music community.

Kennedy’s name became nationally recognized when he won Song of the Year at the 1997 Grammys for Eric Clapton’s No. 1 hit, “Change the World,” which he co-wrote with Wayne Kirkpatrick and Tommy Sims.

In addition to his work with Clapton, Kennedy has had his songs cut by musical greats, including Don Henley, Bonnie Raitt, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Bruce Hornsby, Carrie Underwood, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Alison Krauss, Nickel Creek, Peter Frampton, George Strait, Martina McBride, Joan Osborne, Wynonna, Jerry Reed and, most recently, bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs.

Some of his most notable cuts include his Bonnie Raitt singles, “I Can’t Help You Now” and “I Will Not Be Broken,” his Garth Brooks single, “You Move Me,” which reached No. 2 on the country charts, and his Alison Krauss cut, “Maybe.”

Kennedy is one of those rare talents for whom raw skill and opportunity flawlessly aligned. The son of music industry A-Team heavy hitter Jerry Kennedy and singer Linda Brannon, he grew up steeped in the sounds of Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Tammy Wynette, Jerry Lee Lewis and the Statler Brothers, not only because his parents were spinning their records but because his dad was either producing them or playing guitar on their albums.

A native of Shreveport, Louisiana, Kennedy moved to Nashville in 1961, when he was still a baby and his hopeful parents were trying their hands in the industry, spurned on by Mercury exec and family friend Shelby Singleton. The young family stayed in Nashville and became a pillar in the development of the industry over the next few decades. As Kennedy was growing up, his father spent 16 years running Smash Records, the country subsidiary of Mercury Records. He played on albums for the likes of Bob Dylan and Ringo Starr, produced 13-time Grammy Award-winner Roger Miller and won four Grammys himself.

An alumnus of Brentwood Academy and Belmont University, Kennedy was an all-around athlete in high school, selected the most athletic student his senior year. He spent his high school years running track, playing basketball, winning the regional high jump championship with a jump of 6’6” and starring on BA’s first state championship football team.

A dedicated musician even then, he completed his first master recording session after his junior year of high school, lending a solo to Johnny Rodriguez’ song “Run Like A Thief” and performing a twin guitar part with his father on “Remember Me.”

While still attending Belmont, he landed a gig playing guitar on several of Reba McEntire’s projects, including her first top 5 single, “Today All Over Again” and her first No.1, “Can’t Even Get the Blues.” Catapulted into the realm of top professionals when he was still a student, Kennedy has never slowed in his ability to create and collaborate on innovative, new music.

In 1984, just a couple years out of college, Kennedy joined the contemporary Christian group WhiteHeart when his high school friend, now renowned producer Dann Huff, left the group and recommended him to fill the spot. Kennedy toured for six years with WhiteHeart, during which time the band released one of his favorite collaborations to date, the 1989 album Freedom. He left WhiteHeart in 1990 to get off the road and pursue session work.

The years that immediately followed were integral in shaping Kennedy’s life and career. He spent a few years scraping by and establishing himself as a session guitarist, primarily for contemporary Christian artists like Amy Grant, Twila Paris, Susan Ashton, PFR and Steven Curtis Chapman. At the same time, home life drastically changed for him and his wife with the purchase of their first home and the birth of their two children.

Kennedy began working with renowned songwriters/producers Brown Bannister and Wayne Kirkpatrick. He and Kirkpatrick started writing in pursuit of an artist deal together, and though the deal never materialized, the two wrote three cuts for country megastar Garth Brooks’ alter-ego album, The Life of Chris Gaines. Kennedy wrote 10 songs on that album, which reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart.

It was also during this time that “Change the World” was born, though it sat on a shelf from 1992 until 1995 when it was picked up by Wynonna and then made an international hit by Clapton through the release of the film Phenomenon in the summer of 1996.

In 1994, Kennedy’s song “That Kind of Love,” picked up by the Christian group PFR, was awarded CHR Song of the Year. In 1995, before “Change the World” shot out of obscurity, Kennedy teamed up with songwriter/producer Jimmie Lee Sloas to release a project under the name Dogs of Peace. The album, Speak, was extremely well received in the industry and became another of Kennedy’s most favored collaborations.

After the 1996 burst of “Change the World,” the 81 straight weeks it spent in the top 20 on Billboard’s AC chart, the 13 weeks it spent at No.1, the Grammy nominations, the 1997 Grammy Award and the subsequent affirmation of his songwriting dexterity, Kennedy turned his focus from session playing to writing full time. In 1997, he was inducted into Louisiana’s Southern Songwriters Guild Hall of Fame.

Since then, his every career move has been made through the paradigm of songwriting, though he has still done session work for artists like Faith Hill, SHeDAISY, Billy Ray Cyrus, Wynonna, Peter Frampton, Michael McDonald, Jewel, Kenny Loggins and Little Big Town, primarily through his connections to Huff and Kirkpatrick, both longtime friends and now celebrated producers.

Kennedy has continued to get cuts with artists within and beyond Nashville. Most recently, he teamed up with bluegrass luminary Ricky Skaggs for Skaggs’ critically acclaimed 2010 album Mosaic. Producing the album in tandem with Skaggs and writing or co-writing every song, in addition to singing harmonies and playing guitar, Kennedy brought his Beatles-influenced rock sound to this record that is such a marked deviation from Skaggs’ traditional, mandolin-driven, Kentucky Thunder style.

The album includes guest appearances by a cast of varied talents, including Skaggs’ daughter Molly, George Beverly Shea singing his Billy Graham Crusade spiritual “I’d Rather Have Jesus” and English multi-instrumentalist Peter Frampton shredding on a guitar solo in “My Cup Runneth Over” (Kennedy won a 2007 Grammy for producing Frampton’s Fingerprints album).

Described on NPR as a collection of songs that “frequently capture the artistic paradox of good gospel music: expressing humble piety through bold, passionate performances,” the multi Grammy-nominated album, Mosaic, marked a camaraderie between Skaggs and Kennedy that has yet to see an end.

Talking about Kennedy’s deep involvement with the record, Skaggs said, “I fell in love with his songwriting. I fell in love with the demos that he had done. He has so many people that respect him for his music ... He’s a wonderful Christian who lives it in his heart, and he’s brought such a great thing to this project.”

Kennedy has seen his music placed in the films Phenomenon (1996), Tin Cup (1996), For the Love of the Game (1999), Almost Famous (2000), Where the Heart Is (2000), The Banger Sisters (2002) and The Fox and the Hound 2 (2006). He is an acclaimed songwriter with his distinct fingerprint evident on multiple genres of music, from rock ‘n’ roll to pop, gospel, country and others.

Kennedy has served on the Board of Governors for the Nashville Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) for 10 years and currently serves on the Belmont University Advisory Board. He also gave his time on the Brentwood Academy Board of Trustees from 2006 until 2010.

While his list of accolades runs longer than a Louisiana summer, Kennedy always points to his family when asked how and why he got into music when he did. The oldest of the three Kennedy boys, he’s not the only one who followed in his parents’ footsteps. Both his brothers, Shelby and Bryan, have written No. 1 hits as well, for Reba McEntire and Garth Brooks respectively, each establishing himself in the industry through his own talents and pursuits.

In a letter to his three boys dated March 1, 2011, Gordon’s father, Jerry Kennedy, wrote: “Our family has kind of an anniversary today. Fifty years ago this morning, your mom, Gordon and I left Shreveport to move here to Nashville. What little furniture we owned left the day before ... Our thinking was that we would come up, spend a few weeks, or at the most, a couple of months, and then move back home to Shreveport ... Well, as you all know, the move became permanent at some point, and here it is fifty years later.”

As Gordon Kennedy looks back on this letter, he can be thankful his young parents pinched pennies to get by, taking a risk on a new and unfamiliar city. And at the same time, the rest of us can pinch ourselves to awaken to the reality that the music industry would have been entirely different if they hadn’t.

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Music In the Barn: Meet Artist Brady Seals

Singer/songwriter/artist Brady Seals has a pedigree for success.  You could say that music is “in his blood,” as he is related to numerous industry heavyweights including Jimmy Seals (Seals & Crofts), Dan Seals (England Dan & John Ford Coley) and country songwriters Troy Seals (Songwriting Hall of Fame Member) and Chuck Seals.  Over the course of his career, Brady Seals has sold over 11 million albums, topped three genres simultaneously, and his songs continue to captivate and be licensed for TV, radio and film.

Brady seals - Little texas

Brady seals - Little texas

A touring musician since the age of 16, Brady Seals is probably best known for his tenure in Little Texas and as front man for the dynamic country “super group” Hot Apple Pie.  During his six years as keyboardist and co-lead singer for the multi-platinum group Little Texas, they were voted the ACM’s "Vocal Group of the Year" and received two Grammy nominations.   Little Texas celebrated three consecutive number one hits with “What Might Have Been,” “God Blessed Texas” and “My Love,” all of which Seals co-wrote, granting him the ASCAP “Triple Play Award.”

In 1996 Seals went solo and collaborated with the legendary Rodney Crowell to co-produce his Warner Brothers album, The Truth.  It features a duet with Wynonna Judd, “Another You, Another Me” that sold over 100,000 singles.  A self-titled CD followed in 1998 with guest appearances by Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Timothy B. Schmidt (The Eagles), Bela Fleck and Max Carl (.38 Special).  Seals then explored the pop/rock genre from 1999-2001 by engineering, producing and writing the album Thompson Street, collaborating with pop innovator Andy Sturmer (Jellyfish). 

After garnering critical acclaim for his solo endeavors, in 2002 Seals formed what was touted as “Music City’s Super Group,” the band called Hot Apple Pie.  Hot Apple Pie’s self-titled debut was released in 2005 by Dreamworks.  The band quickly made history when they became the highest selling debut country group in the Neilson Soundscan era.  Their entry single “Hillbillies” went Top 20.  The video shot to #1 on VH-1 Country and was among CMT’s “Top 20 Sexiest Videos.”

Seals spent the next two years with Hot Apple Pie playing large venues in North America and Canada.  They played the Grand Ole Opry, major festivals such as Summerfest, and opened for country giants like Keith Urban and Tim McGraw.  Fans clamored for tickets to see and hear their live show as word spread about the amazing musicianship and Seals’ “Jagger-esque” stage appeal.  Hot Apple Pie gained the respect of music industry insiders and established acts due to their tight harmonies, agile playing skills and charismatic stage antics.


In 2008 Seals released an independent solo CD called “Playtime” and hit the road again to promote it. He spent two years performing in clubs, theatres and other venues across the country.

Brady & his wife Lisa

Brady & his wife Lisa



In 2011 Brady opened up a vintage guitar shop called Music City Pickers. His shop is now located in Franklin, TN just a few miles from his home. Seals currently spends the majority his time with his family. He is now concentrating on songwriting and producing up and coming artists. 




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Successful Holidays with Children

Dear Parents,

Holidays with children can be exciting, fulfilling, and heartwarming. However, if you're not careful, you and your child can end up feeling overwhelmed by all the routine changes. This article offers helpful tips on how to take the stress out of the holiday season. Enjoy! 
Patti Davis
Head of School 
Montessori School of Franklin

Proactive Planning: One Parent's Approach


The Neurology of Montessori

A wonderful article, worth the read recommended by Patti Davis, Head of School:

Because Montessori emphasizes hands-on learning, children are able to master information more quickly and easily than when conventional educational methods are used. The repetition of activities, multisensory materials, and self-guided learning common to the Montessori classroom create the perfect “recipe” for human brain development.

Why Is a Montessori Classroom Called a “Children’s House?”

Dr. Montessori’s focus on the “whole child” led her to develop a very different sort of school from the traditional teacher-centered classroom. To emphasize this difference, she named her first school the “Casa dei Bambini”or the “Children’s House.”

The Montessori classroom is not the domain of the adults in charge; it is, instead, a carefully prepared environment designed to facilitate the development of the children’s independence and sense of personal empowerment. This is a children’s community. They move freely within it, selecting work that captures their interest. In a very real sense, even very small children are responsible for the care of their own child-sized environment. When they are hungry, they prepare their own snacks and drinks. They go to the bathroom without assistance. When something spills, they help each other carefully clean up.

Four generations of parents have been amazed to see small children in Montessori classrooms cut raw fruits and vegetables, sweep and dust, carry pitchers of water, and pour liquids with barely a drop spilled. The children normally go about their work so calmly and purposely that it is clear to even the casual observer that they are the masters in this place: The “Children’s House.” 

Written by Tim Seldin and Paul Epstein

MSF Teachers Prepare for the New School Year

MSF teachers use inservice as a time to prepare the classroom environment for the children.  

Montessori’s idea of the prepared environment was that everything the child came in contact with would facilitate and maximize independent learning and exploration. This calm, well-ordered environment has a lot of movement and activity. Children are free to choose and work on activities at their own pace. Here, they experience a combination of freedom and self-discipline, as guided by the environment.

In Maria Montessori's own words: 
"The first aim of the prepared environment is, as far as it is possible, to render the growing child independent of the adult". Maria Montessori. The Secret of Childhood, 1966.

Practical Life- by: Patti Davis

Practical Life is the daily living area of a Montessori classroom that involves the physical care of the person and the environment. Practical Life includes all the simple, ordinary, everyday adult activities that man must perform in order to establish and maintain relationships in his family or society. The activities the child will encounter fulfill an inner need in development, as well as provide the first stage of his engagement in classroom activity. These exercises are appealing to the child because they are activities he has observed in his home since his birth. He is drawn to do them in the Montessori environment because he is told to do them from within. They are simple enough for him to do successfully, and they make sense to him so that he can participate easily.                      

When a child enters a Montessori program, the Practical Life area is usually introduced first. These are simple and precise exercises that children have already seen their family doing. This is the entry area for new students and an area of comfort, often renewing self-confidence in the older students. The materials are skill oriented and are arranged on the shelves in logical groupings. The skills learned here increase the length of the child's concentration and prepare him for more advanced areas of the Montessori classroom curriculum.

The main purpose of Practical Life is to help the child developmentally in his work of self-construction; the basic skills he will acquire are secondary. His work will require coordination and concentration, which will lead him to independence and self-confidence in his daily life. These exercises will also fulfill his need to become a part of his society. Practical Life provides meaningful work for the child and allows for repetition (which is soothing). It helps the child develop a sense of order and responsibility. Practical Life also prepares the child for the next category of Montessori materials called the Sensorial curriculum, or education and refinement of the senses.

The activities of Practical Life are sequenced. Each lesson is built from another to form a firm foundation of skill, and the children subconsciously take in that order. They can anticipate what to do next. This sequencing also fills a developmental need in the child for order. The first activities are simple, having one step. The child cannot go wrong. Everything needed to complete an activity is contained. The activities move toward the more difficult; those requiring many steps. The child can see if he is not ready for the more complicated tasks, and the teacher can show him how he can get from one activity to another through the ordered sequence in the classroom. This order is also present in the materials used in each exercise on the tray, and in the presentation given to the child.

The Practical Life area provides many benefits for child development, with the activities needed to establish a good solid foundation for his life. The child becomes responsible and attentive to his environment, graceful and in control of his movement, and caring and careful of other human beings. He learns that being a part of this world involves responsibility and thoughtfulness.

What I like most about the Montessori Method - by: Patti Davis

One of my favorite things about Montessori is the fact that it works for every child no matter who they are or where they come from.  All children want to learn, but the areas of interest and the rate of learning vary.  A Montessori education addresses this by tailoring an individual program to the strengths and challenges of each student.  One child may spend three days learning division while another may require three weeks or even several months on the same endeavor. Maria Montessori spent a lot of time observing how and why children learn.  She understood that all children need their own time for mastery.  One of the wonderful things about a Montessori education is that children do not have to be worried about being ahead or behind of anyone else.

Using Encouragement

Great blog post, and wonderful parenting advice. What Ms. Schmidt says is so true!

Using Encouragement

A discouraged child is an unhappy child who is prone to acts of undue attention in the form of tantrums, whining, and more; acts of rebellion; acts of revenge, and acts of giving up and assumed disability. Oh woe is me!

It’s easy to be around a child full of encouragement. He cooperates and contributes to the common good, knowing that he is valued. He is responsible, self-motivated and eager to learn new things. He interacts with others in a friendly positive manner, forgives quickly, and stands up for himself when necessary. When facing an obstacle, the encouraged child retreats for a while to regroup and then resumes contact when ready.

Encouraging our children is a powerful parenting tool. The word “courage” comes from the Latin “cor” or heart. When we offer encouragement we offer our hearts, our courage, to our children, not praise or rewards. When we have to face something that frightens us, we want heart, not a cookie or some kind words.

What are the differences among encouragement, praise and rewards? 

With encouragement we offer the idea that mistakes are simply learning opportunities, and that to learn and grow, we all have to make mistakes. With encouragement we respect the child’s abilities, efforts and integrity to try to do the right thing. An encouraging phrase or two: I know you can figure this out. You’re good at solving problems; I’m sure you’ll figure it out. I love you no matter what.

Praise and rewards teach our children to depend on external input from others instead of learning to trust their own inner wisdom and standards. When we offer praise and rewards, we can catch ourselves because many times the first thing that comes out of our mouths is the word “I”: I’m so proud of you. I want to buy you this because you did that.

If we can swallow our “I’s” and look into our hearts to encourage, we should find a statement that begins with “you”: You must feel proud of the job you did. You really worked hard to do that. You deserve your success. You tried really hard. You’ll learn how to do that better. You are learning so much. You work like a trooper. You’re catching on. You’ve just about got it! You must have been practicing. You’re getting better at that everyday. 

Do you see the difference between praising and encouraging?

Praise and rewards get us believing that we are only okay if others tell us we are okay. Praise and rewards can keep us from trying something new for fear of making a mistake. With encouragement we learn from our mistakes and keep moving forward trying to do the right thing based on our internal compass. When we encourage we acknowledge how the other person must feel, and help them move forward in the direction of their choice, not our choice.

When you are feeling irritated, angry, hurt or helpless when dealing with your child, remember you are dealing with a discouraged child. Look into your heart and find some words of encouragement. You’ll be planting seeds for your child to feel a sense of belonging, independence, forgiveness, and self-assurance, all attributes of an encouraged child. 

Maren Schmidt


Posted By: Patti Burkhart Davis 

Better Than Ezra Benefit Concert

Benefit Concert for Franklin Montessori - March 14, 2013

Benefit Concert for Franklin Montessori - March 14, 2013


Ezralites ~

We have a special benefit concert to raise funds for the Montessori School of Franklin’s arts and music programs on Thursday, March 14, 2013 at The Cannery Ballroom in Nashville!

As music is part of our every day lives, we feel it is important to give kids a creative outlet to express themselves through arts and music. This benefit will help support and continue to grow those programs at the Montessori School of Franklin.

This intimate acoustic concert will feature your favorite BTE songs along with special guests. In true BTE fashion, you never know who might show up!

VIP tickets are available for purchase for $125 per ticket and include open bar, hors d’oeuvres and reserved area close to the stage. General Admission tickets for the concert are available in advance for $40 and $50 at the door. 

Proceeds from the event will go directly to the Montessori School of Franklin to enhance their arts and music programs as well as to buy musical equipment for the children.

See you in a couple weeks!

~ Kevin and Tom

Purchase Tickets......



MSF Teacher Named to Best of List


The Montessori School of Franklin is proud to announce the naming of our very own, Bunmi Anifowoshe as one of Middle Tennessee's Best Private School Teachers. This honor was given to Ms. Bunmi and only two others from the Nashville Scene's Kid's Readers Poll, Best of 2012.

Ms. Bunmi teaches the two and a half to five year olds at MSF, and has been with our school since 2008. She received her BSC in Microbiology from Obafemi Awolowo University, lle-lfe and International Diploma, Montessori Education from Heritage House Montessori Center (Affiliate of College of Modern Montessori, South Africa). 

"Ms. Bunmi models the philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori through her work as an educator and colleague, said Patti Davis, Montessori Education Director . She is dedicated to preparing a nurturing environment everyday that encourages each child to develop their full potential. Her passion for learning shines through the children."