Sounds of the south

A Quinnipiac graduate student’s new podcast featuring country music stars takes off

Emily DiSalvo, Arts and Life Editor

Quinnipiac graduate student Samantha Sheehy has always loved listening to country music, but now her voice and the voice of the artists she admired are coming through the airwaves together.

“Southern Stars” podcast features up-and-coming country music singers and gives a glimpse into their songs and the stories behind the lyrics. Sheehy, a 3+1 communications student pursuing a master’s degree in interactive media and communications, started the podcast as part of her content creation class.

“Southern Stars” highlights up-and-coming country music artists. (From Southern Stars Instagram)

“I didn’t think this would turn into anything, but it is growing a lot faster than I thought, so I am just kind of going with it,” Sheehy said. “It is going well so far.”

In the two and a half weeks since she launched the podcast, she already has over 1,600 followers on Instagram and has released eight episodes. She also has 20 more interviews recorded in the wings.

Her content creation professor, Pattie Belle Hastings, was less surprised about her success.

“She has the drive, passion and determination to follow through,” Belle Hastings said. “I just try to create the space for the students to excel. Sometimes it works.”

It has been growing really fast, and it’s only been two weeks so if I can continue that kind of growth and maybe I could make some money off of it, that would be a dream come true.”

— Samantha Sheehy

Sheehy hopes to promote artists and events in the country music industry after graduation. She didn’t know it when she started, but now she realizes this could be something that could help drive her dream career.

“If it could turn into a career that would be great,” Sheehy said. “It has been growing really fast, and it’s only been two weeks so if I can continue that kind of growth and maybe I could make some money off of it, that would be a dream come true.”

For Sheehy, this whole experience has been somewhat of a dream. Initially, her plan in the class was to make a five-to-10-minute podcast featuring a song of the week. When she decided to interview artists, she didn’t have much hope that randomly messaging them on social media would be successful. Surprisingly, she has received many more yes’ than no’s.

“A lot of them were people that I followed on social media, looked up or listened to on the radio,” Sheehy said. “I would just message them on Instagram and really never thought they would respond.”

While some of the artists are just starting out, Sheehy has been moving up in the world when it comes to interviewing bigger and bigger names. She says her most well-known name to date is Rayne Johnson, who’s latest hit reached the top 40 of country airplay in March 2020.

Follow the podcast on Instagram @southernstarspodcast (From “Southern Stars” Instagram)


Belle Hastings, shared the email she sent Sheehy that “lit the fuse.”

“Stick to country!” Belle Hastings wrote. “You’re going to ask a lot of people you don’t know if you can interview them for your project. Some will say yes. Stretch out of your comfort zone.”

Out of her comfort zone indeed. Sheehy has never made a podcast before. Now, just two and a half weeks into her first one, she is streaming on Apple podcasts and Spotify and is looking for ways to continue to grow.

“I am trying to kind of figure out the whole world of ads and sponsors and selling ad spots on it,” Sheehy said.

The episodes of “Southern Stars” so far feature about 25 minutes of Sheehy’s interview with the country music singers, their stories and clips of their songs. Sheehy said the experience has helped her discover new music herself, while promoting artists who might not be able to create a large platform during the era of social distancing.

“I definitely want it to be something that is beneficial to the artist I am having on and gives them a place to promote their music,” Sheehy said.