Announcing the emerging artists selected for the ‘From Memphis to the Mersey’ songwriter exchange

July 19, 2017

(LIVERPOOL) – After a fantastic response from musicians in both Liverpool and Memphis, the organizers of From Memphis to the Mersey are excited to announce the four songwriters selected to participate in this immersive cultural and creative experience.

Christopher Kearney was the founder, guitarist and singer/songwriter in the band The Aeroplanes formed in 2004. In 2005, the band’s debut EP crashed into the top 5 of the indie charts and the band broke the iTunes record for an unsigned artist in weekly downloads. In addition to touring the UK, The Aeroplanes played gigs in Germany, Switzerland and the US where they were invited to perform at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. They recorded an album, Broken Hearts and Maladies, with Mike Crossey (Arctic Monkeys). In 2011, Kearney started a new project called Cold Shoulder, which releases two EPs and toured the UK in support of Liverpool band Cast. Kearney’s songs have been placed in EastEnders, Strictly Come Dancing, One Tree Hill, Cold Case, Veronica Mars and Necessary Roughness. Christopher is currently a resident songwriter at Bold Street Studios in Liverpool.

Reid Anderson was born into a family of musicians on both sides. His father a saxophonist in a soul group in the 1960s and his mother a trumpet / cornet player in various jazz / brass bands. Playing in brass bands with his siblings as a child gave him a solid grounding in music and an ear for harmony and musicality. As a teen, his older sister’s obsession with Elvis Presley leaked into his psyche and his love affair with music truly began. As much influenced by The Sherman Brothers and Rodgers and Hammerstein as The Velvet Underground, David Bowie or Ray Davies. As much taken by Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash as Hans Zimmer or The Grimethorpe Colliery Band. All these influences are very much woven into the fabric of his own music and story-telling. Reid has played and sung in many groups in Liverpool over the years including Stagger Lee, Revenge Tragedies and Theresa Stern and has begun exploring his solo work in recent years.

Lanita Smith grew up in Memphis singing in her family’s church. A songwriter, instrumentalist and singer, Smith was handpicked by Don Was as the winner of Guitar Center’s Singer-Songwriter 4. She has since worked with award-winning artists and producers like Colbie Caillat, Jessica Sanchez, German American Idol judge Mandy Capistro and Teddy Riley. Since the release of her Don Was-produced debut EP Listen to Your Heartbeat, Smith has also performed at Coachella, Jackson’s R&B Festival, The Troubadour, Hotel Cafe, NAMM and more. Smith’s latest single “Love Can Do” is a prelude to her upcoming album Remember Me, set to release late summer 2017. She supports young Memphis musicians through her Lanita Smith Music Foundation. 

Chris Milam grew up in Memphis and soaked up the musical heritage of his hometown. After stints in Nashville and New York City, in 2010 he returned to Memphis to reconnect with that musical inspiration and increase his touring. Since then he’s recorded projects Ardent Studios and Young Avenue Sound, and this spring released Kids These Days, an album he created at Memphis’ High/Low with producer Toby Vest. Milam’s gift for melody and lyricism on Kids These Days earns comparisons to Simon & Garfunkel and evokes richly-orchestrated works by R.E.M. and Chris Bell. Milam has performed on the acclaimed PBS series The Sun Sessions and shared stages with Cory Branan, Amanda Shires and more.

The four selected songwriters will spend three days working in Memphis (August 4-6) and Liverpool (August 26-28), with each city experience culminating in an event featuring performance of new songs and a curated conversation about the exchange itself and the connections between these two international music cities. They will be coached by and collaborate with mentors: GRAMMY-award winner and Stax legend William Bell, Memphis singer, songwriter and producer Susan Marshall, the face and the voice of UK and international chart topping Liverpool band The Christians Garry Christian and Christians band member, multi- instrumentalist, writer and producer Joey Ankrah.

Memphis to the Mersey is made possible by support from the Memphis Convention & Visitors’ Bureau and Arts Council England and produced in joint partnership by Monkey Mind Productions and Music Export Memphis.  


Monkey Mind Productions was founded by Artistic Director – Emma Foxall in February 2015.  The company launched with the highly successful Bluebird at the Bluecoat project, since then the company has produced educational exhibitions, large scale culture and arts events and talent development exchanges.  The company has the long term ambition of creating exciting and ambitious international arts and cultural projects in Liverpool and beyond. Learn more at 


Music Export Memphis is an export office for Memphis music focused on creating opportunities for Memphis musicians to make Memphis a desirable place to live and work, while driving outcomes in talent attraction, economic development and music tourism. MEM’s three flagship programs are Experiences, Ambassadors and the Export Bank. Learn more at