Romanello Sharing Love of All Things Country Music at Nashville Museum -
Like many teenagers, Dana Romanello hesitated about going into the family business.
In Romanello’s case, the family business was bluegrass music, something she had been a part of since she was in diapers. But Romanello was a teenager trying to find her way so she considered other things. However, in college, things clicked and Romanello finally embraced her family heritage.
“I realized my life’s purpose, why God has me here, is to help preserve this music and touch people’s lives with it,” she said.
And after 10 years in Nashville, Tennessee, working with some of the biggest names in country music, Lucasville, Ohio, native Romanello now finds herself working at a place created specifically to preserve the legacy of all country music, as she herself continues to touch lives with her own new brand of bluegrass.
Romanello’s first taste of performing was when she was three years old, joining her family for a jam session at Shawnee Lodge in West Portsmouth. The song was the Bill Monroe classic “Blue Moon of Kentucky.” Her family had been playing it so much she knew the words and joined in for the sing-along.
“My grandfather made everyone stop to hear me sing,” Romanello said.
But, Romanello knew she wanted to go beyond
performing with her family in Scioto County and start a life and career in Nashville. While attending Marshall University, Romanello started working at country music radio station WTCR where she played syndicated music programs on the air. The late Dave Poole, who was known as Dave McLain on WTCR, knew Romanello was interested in an internship and helped her get one at MCA/Mercury Records working in promotions.
Romanello’s internship was during the summer of 2004 when MCA/Mercury acts Vince Gill and Reba were in their heyday. One of Romanello’s jobs during her internship was to mail tradio stations CDs featuring a brand new country act—Sugarland.
The internship was a great experience for Romanello and only whetted her appetite to move to Nashville permanently, which she did on January 3, 2005. With only $200 to her name, she slept on a friend’s couch and worked as a door girl at Guitar Center. In March 2005, Romanello got her first real break when she was hired by a marketing group to do affiliate relations, selling to radio stations the same syndicated shows she had been putting on the air at WTCR.
But Romanello soon moved on, finding herself working for one of her idols—Ricky Skaggs—at Skaggs Family Records. “Ricky Skaggs was the soundtrack to my childhood,” she said. “So that was very cool.” After a year at Skaggs’ label, Romanello moved on to work with another country legend, Kix Brooks of the country duo Brooks and Dunn. She was hired to work on “American Country Countdown (ACC) with Kix Brooks.”
During her seven years with ACC, Romanello had a number of wonderful opportunities, including serving as host of “ACC TV Around Town.” But, the constant change of ownership of the program and her added responsibilities started to take its toll. “For the last six months at ACC, I was writing the script for the show,” Romanello said. “It was like having a big paper due every week. It was a lot of stress.”
“It’s so cool to work for people you idolize, like Ricky and Kix, but it’s so much pressure,” Romanello said. “I just wanted to be a fan again.”
After ACC went through yet another ownership change, Romanello was laid off. She left her radio days behind and is now the sales manager at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
“The layoff was a blessing in disguise,” Romanello said. “Anyone in Nashville will tell you they want to wind up here at the museum. It’s about the music—both preservation and telling the story. It’s where I should have been all along.”
Romanello’s life has come full circle as she’s able to use her music education background with the student groups that visit the museum each day to perform on stage or record in the legendary RCA Studio B where Elvis Presley recorded more than 260 songs and Dolly Parton recorded the classic “Jolene.”
“It’s so nice to see that music education does still have some imprint on schools across the country,” Romanello said.
In addition to working with students and giving tours to private groups, Romanello travels to trade shows across the country to promote the museum. “I can’t believe I get paid to do that,” she said.
However, Romanello has never given up her first love, bluegrass music. She recently released (on digital outlets) “Cowgirl on a Carousel,” an EP featuring four songs she co-wrote. She calls the bluegrass and acoustic country music she performs “sappy grass,” which she describes as new grass for women. The EP’s title track refers to a woman getting caught up in the day-to-day while trying not to ignore the part of her that feels like a gypsy who loves to explore. The song offers some advice that Romanello clearly has followed her entire life. “The things that make you you – you can never stop doing them,” Romanello said emphatically.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be completely satisfied,” she added. “But I’m more content now than I have ever been. There’s a lot to be said for making your passion your career.”
Photos compliments Dana Romanello