Americana duo Steel Blossoms (Sara Zebley and Hayley Prosser) were playing the National Cornbread Festival in Tennessee when they sought respite from the heat within the air-conditioned theater. There they heard bluegrass legend Jerry Salley, who currently had a hit with red-hot country artist Chris Stapleton. Fiddler and guitarist Sarah Zebley stated that upon returning to Nashville she would message Salley via Facebook. “I was like, ‘Sarah, you’re crazy,’” recounts Prosser.
Surprisingly, Salley responded and suddenly became Steel Blossoms’ new writing partner. Next came Salley’s offer to produce. Since they’d just released their first full-length record, they placed the idea on hold.
Then Salley became Creative and A&R Director at Billy Jam Records, the newly founded, Americana-focused sister label to bluegrass-oriented Billy Blue Records. “We just said we’d love for you to pitch our new record and see what they think,” Prosser says. “We started talking with the label in July of ‘18 and they offered us the deal in November.” Hectic schedules, including Prosser planning her wedding, meant Steel Blossoms wouldn’t be signed until this year. When it finally happened, the occasion was marked with balloons, cupcakes and a night on the town–– they’d become Billy Jam’s debut artist. Having achieved a marked level of success on their own the artists questioned whether or not they even wanted a label, but upon learning the advantages Billy Jam could bring their perspective shifted.
One deciding factor was the label’s willingness to relinquish artistic power. “We’re control freaks,” Prosser candidly admits. The label’s honesty and cooperative nature made the deal nearly inevitable. For an example, Prosser mentions their lawyer, who negotiated hard to acquire the best deal possible even though she’d been referred by the label itself. “We’re very lucky,” she admits. “They’re the kind of people independent artists want to work with.”
A fresh Steel Blossoms album is available now.
Date Signed: Jan. 31, 2019
Label: Billy Jam Records
Band Members: Sara Zebley, fiddle, guitar, harmonies; Hayley Prosser, vocals, guitar
Type of Music: Americana
Booking: Janelle Smith, [email protected]
Publicity: Claire Ratliff, [email protected] ; Katie Keller, The Press House, [email protected]
A&R: Jerry Salley