From Historic RCA Studios on Music Row, veteran writer/producer team, Eddie Gore and Justyna Kelley, have joined forces with legendary Stax guitarist and songwriter Steve Cropper to form new label and production company, Sneaky Animals Music.
The dynamic trio’s first signing is the talented and country-inspired artist from Humboldt, Tennessee, Emily McGill. She is the daughter of the late great Chuck McGill, a local hero in the West TN music scene, who in 2017 had part of Highway 186 named after him.
She grew up singing and playing in her family band with her mom Paula and sister Katie, and worked in her father’s music store, The Bandstand. McGill, who signed a publishing deal with Eddie and Justy Productions in 2020, has worked and written with noteworthy artists such as Bud Lee, Irene Kelley, Steve Mandile, Jonathan Singleton, and others.
“We just fell in love with her voice,” says Kelley who spoke glowingly about McGill. Kelley and Gore started producing some of her music and writing with her, and when presented to Cropper, it was a done deal. McGill was locked in.
Gore, a Nashville native, is one of the few producers in the record business possessing the trained ears of a player/arranger with the ability to expertly engineer just about any musical style.
When Cropper, (Booker T. and The M.G.’s, Otis Redding) decided to step away from the day-to-day bustle of Music Row, he entrusted Gore to design and construct a studio in a building Cropper owned on The Row adjacent from the ASCAP Building.
For the past twenty-five years, Gore has developed a keen ear for radio, and he knows when he hears a hit. His studio acts as a production house, where clients and artists can get their full-spectrum of musical needs met. He takes pride in his ability to arrange music around the artist’s strengths.
An experienced performer and true songwriter’s songwriter, Kelley was born and raised in Nashville, the daughter of notable Music City songwriter Irene Kelley.
She has been singing since she was a kid, and her formative years were spent on and off the road performing with her mother. A singer by birth and a performer by trade, Kelley studied Theater, English and French at the University of the South. During these years and between studies, she began splitting her time between Nashville, Los Angeles and, New York to carve out her own career as an actress and recording artist.
In 2013, after completing a full-length record in Los Angeles, she signed with 13 Bis Records (Warner France) and moved to Paris. For the next three years, she would tour across Europe, opening for artists such as David Hallyday, Jackson Browne and Emmylou Harris. She also began writing and composing on-command projects for Universal Production Publishing Music.
In 2016, Kelley returned home to Nashville to focus on her songwriting and artist career, and to collaborate with Gore. Together, they produce artists and create music for film, TV, and major label projects, as well as her own artist material at RCA Studios.
“We just had such a great rapport. We had a very similar vision, taste in music, and same values,” says Kelley about her connection with Gore.
The trio has been in RCA Studio C for nearly seven years, as they took the reigns in 2015. Gore and Cropper have been working together for about 30 years, and Gore has been the chief engineer for Cropper in that time. “Steve won’t record anything without Eddie,” Kelley told us. Cropper was just nominated at this year’s Grammy’s for Best Contemporary Blues Album.
The trio is also helping to produce Kelley’s mom’s next bluegrass album, and one of her new songs is the product of a three-way write between Cropper and the mother-daughter combo.
With Sneaky Animals Music just starting to get the wheels off the ground, the sky’s the limit for this new venture pioneered by the seasoned and talented trio of Cropper, Kelley, and Gore.
Cropper will be opening and performing with McGill at City Winery (The Lounge) on Tuesday April 26th.