Was it a big surprise that some band out of Nashville won new artist at the American Music Awards? Isn’t this the Faustian year of Lady Gaga?
No, there was no backroom conspiracy. Lady Gaga is still a media darling. It’s just that when you open up voting to the public, some fans are more active than others.
“Our fans vote,” Cheyenne Kimball of Gloriana told Pollstar. “They are constantly looking us up on Twitter or Facebook, saying ‘I’m voting for you! I’m voting for you!’ They make YouTube videos. They do all that stuff. We were very hands-on with the fans and I think that makes a huge difference. They’re very loyal and it was because of them that we won that award.”
Bandmate Mike Gossin said the same thing. Although there has been an online debate about whether Lady Gaga should have won, most people have been very supportive of Gloriana.
Of course, let’s be real – the Gloriana / Gaga debate was not the biggest surprise of the evening. A Jennifer Lopez tumble and the Adam Lambert train wreck made sure of that. However, the win has changed the band members’ lives for the better.
“We definitely have seen some new articles come up [since the win],” Kimball said. And when she traded in her broken blow dryer, the man behind the counter had something to say when she told him about her job.
“You’re in Gloriana?” he said. “You’re the ones who beat out Lady Gaga!”
The band has spent two solid years building its brand. Kimball, Rachel Reinert and brothers Tom and Mike Gossin had their first break over Thanksgiving weekend before hitting the press again Dec. 2.
Kimball was actually a solo artist prior to joining the band. She debuted her album in 2006 and the accompanying reality series on MTV, “Cheyenne,” chronicled her introduction into the music business. But early last year she saw a band and wanted to join.
From that point forward, Kimball, who actually has her own manager in Doc McGhee, was absorbed into the band and became just one of four musicians.
Since then, Gloriana has found itself a compatible touring partner for traditionalists like Alan Jackson to new-country artists like Taylor Swift. In fact, Gloriana not only toured with Swift this year but is expected to join her again in 2010.
That brought up an interesting question. Swift has gained her following from marathon meet-and-greets, posting messages to her fans’ MySpace pages and knowing how to speak to radio executives and kids alike. Was Gloriana’s rabid fan base built with the same attention?
“We’ve learned so much from Taylor [and her crew],” Gossin said. “They’ve been nice enough to coach us in a way, give us good advice. I think we all agree it’s very important to stay in touch with the fans on a lot of the Internet outlets – Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, all of them – because it gives them a chance to stay connected with us on a more personal level.
“And Taylor Swift feels the same way,” he said. “That is part of the reason we’ve had the support of this fan-voted award that we won. We give as much as we can to our fans and they give as much as they can back to us.”
Tom Gossin, Rachel Reinert, Mike Gossin & Cheyenne Kimball
This interview was one of the very first for Gloriana after taking its break and it was set up in record time. Apparently Gloriana’s manager, Dean Serletic, doesn’t mess around. Kimball and Gossin praised Dean and his brother, Matt Serletic, who produced their album, and agent Brad Bissell as amazingly efficient.
“Oh yeah, they get back to you fast,” Kimball said. “They’re like, ‘Do you want to do this? Yes or no, yes or no, yes or no! We need to know now!’ That’s pretty much how they’ve always been.”
“I’ve never seen anyone in the business work as hard as those three guys,” Gossin said. “They just really do an amazing job. We owe a lot of the success we’ve had already to people like that. They really take the time and put in the dedication to their artist. And they believe in us. We wouldn’t have the success that we have if it wasn’t for them.”
In fact, the band was going to dinner with Bissell that evening, even though they were in Las Vegas at the time. Bissell flew out just to say hi and see how things were going.
“Brad’s a great guy,” Gossin said. “It’s almost like a family with him. He’ll say, ‘Call me any time,’ and he means it.”
“And he shows up in the most random places,” Kimball said. “I remember when we were in Chicago and he just walked into the dressing room. We were like, ‘What are you doing here?’ He said, ‘I just thought I’d come and see you guys play tonight.’ I just think that’s really cool; he’s always somewhere new.”
For all the praise heaped on Bissell, he personally kept a modest profile for this article, making sure Gloriana got the focus.
“To beat out the other nominees for the AMA breakthrough artist of the year was a complete surprise,” he said. “But it shows you can’t underestimate the strength of the country audience in their support of this talented and hardworking group.”
And hardworking is right: Between shows with Swift, fairs, festivals and casinos, Gloriana is booked through next September.