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Oh Hale Yeah!
February 13, 2013 - Jim Price
For those who have not yet heard the news, a band that used to frequent Altoona area stages is now officially a Grammy Award winner.
During the annual Grammy Awards ceremony Sunday in Los Angeles, Halestorm won the Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance for their song “Love Bites (So Do I),” from their latest studio album “The Strange Case Of…” In achieving that honor, Halestorm lead singer and guitarist Lzzy Hale becomes the first woman ever to achieve that particular Grammy.
Their Grammy is the latest milestone in the continuing rise of Halestorm, whose early career brought them to Altoona area stages frequently during the early 2000s. Halestorm played on stages at such now-defunct venues as Peter C’s and the GMan. They also performed at the Lakemont Park WingOff event, at Dennie Huber’s annual Crazy Fest Amateur Youth Talent Show (back when that event used to be staged at the A&J IAIA American Legion hall on 9th Avenue), inside the Station Mall, and both at the Cresson Sportsmen’s Club and PPG Pavilion in Tipton as part of Q94 Radio’s annual “Q-Fest” concert event.
The timing of Halestorm’s latest achievement is special for me, as I prepare to attend and cover the 17th annual Millennium Music Conference this weekend (Feb. 14-17) in Harrisburg. For it was at Millennium where I first met the Hale family and witnessed their first real introduction to the music industry.
It was during the 1999 Millennium Music Conference that Halestorm – then 15-year-old Elizabeth (pre-“Lzzy”) Hale on lead vocals and keyboard, 12-year-old Arejay Hale on drums, and their dad, Roger on bass (mother Beth was their manager) – arrived and showcased for the first time. At this point, Halestorm was very new to the music business; they had just issued their first CD, “Don’t Mess with the Time Man,” and their style of music was along the line of Christian-toned rock and pop. I remember meeting the Hale family at the conference trade show, and watching as they experienced with big-eyed wonder the hustle and bustle of an actual music conference. They got their first taste of networking, shaking hands and passing out CDs and business cards to various music industry representatives (including yours truly, who had just begun a local music radio show called “The Backyard Rocker” on Q94 the year before). The Hales attended numerous music industry panels and the keynote addresses at the conference, and learned many of the first lessons of their music industry journey.
Halestorm returned to the Millennium Music Conference in subsequent years, a little wiser and more savvy about the music industry with each visit. They continued to absorb information and insight about the industry, networked with more music industry folks, and began to develop the team and network that would help them eventually land their recording deal with Atlantic Records in 2006. They first met Philadelphia-based producer David Ivory at Millennium; he took Lzzy Hale under his wing to help hone her songwriting skills, and teach her the fine art of composing concise and efficient song hooks and melodies. Ivory would also introduce Halestorm to other parts of their business “team,” paving the way to their eventual recording deal.
If ever there was a “textbook” method to achieving music industry stardom, Halestorm executed that method to near perfection. Halestorm learned the value of a good work ethic early in their career. They listened and learned about the music business. They shook hands and networked wide and far, building bridges wherever they could. They honed and improved their music and live show. They met and greeted fans, and worked tirelessly to expand their fan base. And with each passing milestone, Halestorm did not rest on their laurels; they continued to push forward, realizing that each new achievement in their music career journey meant new work to be done, and more nose-to-the-grindstone effort to get it done.
Halestorm’s Grammy award is the latest reward for that work and effort.
As I participate in this year’s Millennium Music Conference, I will see other young musicians arriving to experience their first taste of the music industry. Like Elizabeth and Arejay Hale in 1999, some of those musicians will arrive with their parents (the mothers, often the managers, are termed “momagers” in industry slang). I will watch the big-eyed wonder as these aspiring talents take in the spectacle of their first music industry event. And I will wonder if someday one or more of them – like Halestorm – will step upon a stage in Los Angeles to accept their first Grammy award.
Halestorm, celebrating their first Grammy award Sunday night in Los Angeles. (photo courtesy of www.grammy.com)