Olivia Jo signs with ATS Records

Olivia Jo with Milton Harkey, Lora Molen, and Lewell Molen with ATS Records

Fast-rising young Virginia bluegrass vocalist, Olivia Jo, has signed with ATS Records, a brand new label based in Knoxville, TN.

ATS was launched by Lewell and Lora Molen, who have operated Mojo Recording Studio in Louisville, TN this past 20 years, along with their son. Both are long time grassers, coming from bluegrass families. Lewell grew up playing bluegrass, working with The Hutchens, and with his brother-in-law in Kentucky Grass. Lora’s dad had worked with Red Allen back in the day, so both of them know and love the music with a passion.

Lewell and Lora also host the Cumberland Sunday Morning show on WDVX, so their voices will be familiar to regular listeners who enjoy their bluegrass gospel program each week.

The Molens had talked for some time about starting a label that was dedicated to artists and artist service, and in initial discussions with Olivia Jo about being their first signee, her parents, Vicky and Bill Hutchens, liked what they heard so well they became partners with the Molens in the label, bringing along noted bluegrass promoter Milton Harkey, with whom Vicky has worked for years.

Speaking with Lewell this afternoon, his excitement about the label, and about Olivia Jo, was quickly obvious.

“My wife and I decided that we wanted to start a label to support bluegrass artists, one that works for the artists. We want to give the artists real service – go with them to the festivals, work their table, and be there for them. We plan to be very selective, no more than maybe half a dozen artists, and we want them to work hard, as hard as we do.

We love this music, and we love our first artist, Olivia Jo. We’ve known her for maybe a decade or more.

She is a very talented artist. A great singer, and a hard worker, with a great work ethic. She wants it right. And so do we.”

ATS was chosen for the label name to represent All Things Strings. Lewell said that their plan is to focus on bluegrass, but that this name would allow them to reach into Americana as well if the right artist came along.

Olivia Jo tells us that it’s a perfect fit, working with people she knows and trusts

“I’m anticipating great things as this new chapter of my career begins, and I’m so grateful for this new opportunity. ATS is a record label that truly values the artist and strives to help them succeed by working closely with them to provide the support they need.

I owe a special thank you to my family, friends, and the wonderful community of people that has supported me through the years, and still continues to. But most importantly, I give my thanks to God, the One who has blessed me with all things good in my life, and graciously given me the ability to share the gift of music with my voice. I owe Him everything.”

The ATS Records team shakes out as follows:

  • Lewell Molen: President, Producer
  • Lora Molen: Director of Marketing
  • Milton Harkey: Artist Management and Promotions
  • Vicky Hutchens: Director of Business Operations
  • Bill Hutchens: Director of Artist Relations

A new single for Olivia Jo is expected just after the new year, a Harley Allen song, with Rhonda Vincent singing harmony.

When I mentioned to Lewell that their plans sounded a lot like what Stephen and Jana Mougin have done with Dark Shadow Recording, he perked right up.

“Yes indeed! We have watched what they have done and have a great deal of respect for Dark Shadow, and how they run that label. We know the Mougins a little through Becky Buller, who is a good friend of Lora’s. Stephen is one of hardest working people out there on the road, and Jana keeps everything going back home.”

We finished our discussion with him describing their business ethic and plan with the motto they use to describe ATS Records.

“Passion + perseverance = success. My wife came up with that, our slogan.”

Best of luck to ATS Records, and to Olivia Jo. We’ll be eager to hear what they come up with together.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.