From West Chester, Ohio. Friday night pizza from LaRosa’s. Piano lessons. Choosing to skip practicing, becoming adept at sight reading. Gospel, old hymns, and solos at church. Vocal and guitar lessons in high school, entering several classical competitions. “While everyone told me I had a good path in classical music and that was where they thought I needed to be, I ultimately knew that wasn’t me.” If you were to do a cover of a classical song, which one would you choose?
That’s a very hard question to answer!! I will say my voice doesn’t sing in that same way anymore because it’s been so long, but if I had to choose, I’d probably just say some sort of German ballad. I loved singing in German, and I love me a good ballad!
Listening to George Jones’ vinyl albums that had belonged to your grandfather. Vacations in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Reba and Alan Jackson, your queen and king of country. Loving country’s storytelling. Can you share a memory of a family tradition that involved music growing up?
Growing up my sister and I were always listening to country hymns in the car. I think that is my favorite memory. As a Baptist we loved our hymns, and nothing is more fun than those hymns sung by your favorite country artist as well as with banjos! I hope to record a country hymns album someday.
2014. Belmont University, Commercial Voice major. “My roommate moved out two weeks after she moved in, and from that moment on, I was kind of alone. And I think being by myself, that sense of freedom took advantage of me a little bit. I started skipping some classes and set out to find myself in a non-healthy way. It took me until sophomore year to really start to come around.” Crediting Sandra Dudley, your voice teacher, for helping you make it through. Best advice she gave you?
The best advice Ms. Dudley gave me was to always be myself and don’t back down from that. I’m proud of the human I’ve become, and I like to thank all of the people that have been in my life since moving to Nashville for that.
After graduating, you began playing more than 200 shows a year, from Tootsie’s to Ole Red, Redneck Riviera, and Johnny Cash’s Kitchen. “Nashville is a big city with a small-town feel. The longer you are here, the more you know people, and it becomes very small. But if you make one mistake, most of the town hears about it. And that can be scary.” How difficult was it to go from college to playing so many shows?
Challenging is an understatement. The biggest learning curve for me was finding my worth. There were a lot of people and bookers in Nashville and even some outside of town that would talk down to me as a woman or just feel like they were superior and finding my footing that I now have when dealing with people like that has been my favorite part of the journey.
Gibson. ‘Old Faithful.’ First ‘real’ gig was in 2018, opening for Easton Corbin (who listened from his bus and commented how much he enjoyed it) in Ohio. Guitarist Mitch Predella and drummer Zach Weisberg joined you on stage and continue to work with you. How did you first connect with Mitch and Zach?
College! We had many classes together over the years which formed into a friendship on the road after the degrees were earned!
Debut self-penned single, “Avaline,” is about your relationship with your mother. You found out after writing it that Avaline means ‘a wished for or wanted child.’ What was your mother’s reaction the first time she heard the song?
Well, she’s one of those people that it sometimes takes a moment to understand where songs are coming from but she has since jumped on the bandwagon!
“Take the Trash Out.” “It’s a song about taking the trash out of your life, no matter what that trash is. In my case, that trash was a man.” You commented that the song, co-written with Drake Austin, is ‘so me.’ If you were to pitch a co-write idea to Lainey Wilson, what topic would you like to write about?
First of all, I LOVE me some Lainey Wilson. I actually just wrote a song with my buddy Drake called “Hippie” about a girl with curves and we both said if I didn’t really want to record it for my brand it would definitely be a Lainey Wilson idea!
CMA Fest. From attending at age 12 to performing this year. “My parents always told me to stay humble and work hard. They also always instilled in me to never settle…for anything. There are times when I will think to myself, ‘I deserve this.’ But actually, that taught me that maybe, I deserve even better.” Looking to tour more — which venues are on your bucket list?
Well first of all I’d love to travel and play a show in every state at some point! I’m dying to visit Texas as well as Montana. My major bucket list places to perform is the Grand Ole Opry for sure. I’m waiting on my time!
Debut EP, They Say. How do these songs show the evolution of your music?
If I told you about the exact order in which I wrote the songs on the EP you’d understand the evolution of my music and how far I’ve come but to put it in a nutshell it started with “Avaline” and ended with “Take the Trash Out.” I definitely found myself along the way and the voice I was longing to share.
“Black Velvet” (cover of Alannah Myles 1989 hit) acoustic video with Stormlight Pictures and Nick Champeau. Why did you choose this song to cover?
First off, I love the story of this song and how it’s about Elvis, but I also just love the way the song sits in my voice and brings out my rasp and power. It was a no-brainer when I started choosing songs for the video projects.
What’s ahead in ’23?
Since the release of my first EP, I have been writing new material and it is some of my favorite that I have written. In 2023, I hope to be on the road more than ever before and releasing music that feels 100% me at this stage in life.