Hailing from Marietta, GA, Janie Waddell was raised listening to musical story-tellers. Ranging from Hank Williams Jr., to Brandi Carlile, to Bryan Adams, she was introduced to the art of crafting stories through writing and lyrics at an early age.
Self-description — “She’s the girl next door, but with a little more grit.” A number of country artists (including Trisha Yearwood, Lauren Alaina, Jennifer Nettles, Kimberly Schlapman, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, and Kane Brown) are also native Georgians. Can you describe how your Southern upbringing has shaped the country music artist you are today?
Growing up in the South, I was immersed in music, especially country music, from a very young age. Knowing that so many incredible country artists came out of my home state made my dream of becoming a country artist seem that much more possible. It fueled my drive to keep working, writing, and honing my craft, because if they had done it, I knew it was not out of reach for me. I would also spend hours in my bedroom studying their stories and the paths they had taken in the music industry, which absolutely influenced a lot of the decisions and choices I’ve made on my path.
You’ve performed throughout Georgia. Which local venues, like the Dixie Tavern, are your favorites to play at and why?
I love this question! One of my favorites is The Foundry in Athens, GA. It has the coolest setup — there are tables that people can sit at and also standing room by the stage where people can get right up front to watch or dance (which I love seeing!) The staff there is so welcoming and truly makes you feel at home on their stage. I’ve also gotten the opportunity to play a song at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta, GA, as part of an amazing fundraiser called 500 Songs for Kids. Growing up just outside of Atlanta, I was always hearing about Smith’s, so it was a very full circle moment for me. The venue has so much character and has welcomed so many music legends, so I hope I’ll get to play a full show there sometime.
Just a few days into the year you asked fans how their resolutions were holding up. Fast forward to October, those resolutions are most likely long forgotten amidst the continuing pandemic. What unique challenges did the pandemic present for you as you prepared to release your debut single?
By far the biggest challenge for me was probably that I was not playing live shows. Live performances are such a huge part of promoting a single or album release, so I had to take into account that I was very much going to be doing a social-media based release campaign. Another big change is that I was actually supposed to record everything at the end of March! With how recently the world had turned upside down, I was so apprehensive about the risks of the virus that we ended up moving the recording day to July, which delayed my original release plan.
Your debut single, “Push a Button”, was co-written two years ago with Emily Kroll at your first joint write. How did you know you had ‘stumbled on something magical’ that very day?
The song spilled out in about an hour and a half, which is something that rarely happens in my writes. It was honestly one of those songs that wrote itself. After we finished it, we both kind of sat back for a moment and went, “whoa,” because we were so floored by it. I think we knew in that moment how relatable it was, both for us and for whoever was going to hear it. There wasn’t even that much editing — we made the worktape and it’s pretty much the exact same thing you hear now in the master.
What can fans expect on your debut project, scheduled for release next year?
There are going to be old fan favorites, but also some new ones they probably haven’t heard before. Some songs really have that edgy, alternative tone mixed with the modern country sound (think Caitlyn Smith vibes) and some are much more country-pop. As of right now it’s going to be 5 songs, but I’m absolutely loving what I’m writing currently, so there many be a few more added haha.
You criss-crossed 10 states in 10 days with three other girls to three National Parks (and one flat tire) this summer, and, I assume, developed a new appreciation of traveling while keeping socially distant. What was the highlight of the trip?
I absolutely developed a new appreciation of traveling! I think the highlight for me was seeing the Grand Tetons on our first day in Wyoming. All of us were floored and kept saying that it looked like it couldn’t be real. It really set the tone for the rest of the trip and opened my eyes to how incredible the landscape and terrain is out West. I’ve definitely caught the travel bug now, so don’t be surprised if you find me driving across the country again to see more National Parks!
You’ve celebrated a birthday, treated yourself to flowers on a Sunday, enjoyed ice cream sandwiches at The Baked Bear, and, overall, made sure to take time to take care of yourself during the quarantine. How has music also helped you through these uncertain times?
Music seems to be one of the few things that has stayed fairly constant in this pandemic. When all of the unknowns got to be too stressful, my favorite songs were there to bring my mood up and anchor me. I’d go on drives in March and April and just listen to my Spotify playlists, and for a minute, it almost felt like nothing had changed. In terms of making music, I am incredibly lucky that a lot of my cowrites were still able to take place, even though it was via Skype and not face to face. There was a lot on everybody’s mind and heart, so it was really special to be able to craft something beautiful out of that.