Country Next: Alexis Wilkins

We take pride in introducing fans to country music’s brightest new stars through our Country Next series. Here, we chat with Alexis Wilkins.

By

Melinda Lorge

| Posted on

August 4, 2023

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Photo Courtesy Alexis Wilkins

Alexis Wilkins has always had a passion for singing and songwriting but it wasn’t until she realized she could pair that with helping those who mean the most to her that she decided to make a career out of music. 

Growing up in Arkansas, Wilkins has long been an advocate for veterans, bringing that love to the forefront with her song “Stand,” which she released in 2022 on Veterans Day. She has also worked with organizations such as Warrior Rounds, Operation Stand Down, and Soldier’s Child and performs in veterans’ hospitals through the Musicians on Call program. 

Wilkins made the move to Nashville after high school and attended Belmont University. Along with that, she hit the ground running, immersing herself in Nashville’s writing scene, penning songs that find her keeping the legacy of classic country alive.

Her debut EP, Grit, released in the spring of 2023 via Saddle Up Records, exemplifies that. The six-track project showcases Wilkins’s traditional country sound with a modern twist, her impeccable storytelling, and vocals that are primed for country radio. 

Wilkins, who has previously opened for Lee Greenwood, Chris Young, Sara Evans, Parmalee, and more, caught up with Country Now to talk about her background, working with veterans, the songs on her latest EP, and more. 

Read on to find out more about Alexis Wilkins in this exclusive Q&A below.

How did you begin a career in country music? 

I’ve been writing music my whole life. I originally started songwriting to raise money for an organization I believed in when I was seven. That led me to continue writing for myself and other artists. When I realized I could do what I loved while raising awareness for something I believed in, I was sold!

At what point did you begin songwriting? 

It’s funny because it was so long ago. So I don’t remember exactly when I started. It’s just one of those things. But I have always been writing, and I knew what I liked in a song and kept doing it. 

What artists have shaped you throughout your journey? 

I’ve always loved country music and traditional country music. There are so many influences, from songwriting to artistry to live shows. I’ve always loved Garth Brooks’ live shows. He’s incredible and influenced how I want to make people feel at my shows. But just a lot of the classic stuff. I grew up with my mom listening to country music. So everything she was listening to, I was listening to. 

When did you begin navigating your artistry in Nashville? 

I moved to Nashville about ten years ago. So I was working for a while writing for other people. I wanted to know my voice as a songwriter and artist before starting on my project. So I spent time doing that. I also went to college in Nashville, and the time has flown by.

Alexis Wilkins - Grit
Alexis Wilkins – Grit

Tell me about your EP Grit, which dropped earlier this year. 

Grit, to me, was a title that I had always wanted to find a way to write. It just embodies a lot of the country values and the cowboy spirit. So writing that into the title and having it become the title track of the EP just felt right. I wanted all the songs on it to line up with that feeling. Even the sadder songs have nods to, you know, ‘John Deere Green.’ So I wanted everything to reflect that and harken to that past country spirit. 

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You collaborated with the Stetson brand for ‘Heaven In A Stetson.’ Can you tell me about that partnership?

I’ve always worn Stetsons. I don’t think I’ve posted a hat that’s not Stetson on my feed. So we went back and forth for a while that way. But we also worked together on a winter campaign that they had done. They used one of the photos I had taken for my project, and that started the conversation of ‘Hey. I’m coming out with this EP, and I have a song called ‘Heaven In A Stetson.’ They liked the song and wanted to support it, and I am super excited to have worked with them. 

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Your song “Stand” showcases your support for veterans. What does it mean for you to advocate for veterans?

I love music, but having a reason to write and make music while being on this journey is bigger than me. I don’t know how else to say that. But veterans have always been important to me. I come from a line of veterans. I have always been a fan of history. I also feel like as I got more into the world of veterans and understanding the VA and understanding how everything works, even with the policy and how important all the funding is, you see the holes in what they have to deal with. I work with an organization called Warrior Rounds, and we write songs with veterans to help tell their stories. So you realize there are so many stories they have that go unsaid and unwritten. So being a part of helping get those stories out and even just helping get the message out of things they might need, we all heard the statistic 22 a day, but it’s so much more real life than that. So, for me, it couldn’t be more important. 

What kind of responses do you get from veterans when they hear your music is tied to their life story? 

It’s interesting because I do shows in the writer’s rounds geared toward veterans. Then I do headline shows where I’m opening for someone, but I sing a song steered in that direction or mention something about it. In both scenarios, you have these people sitting there listening to country music, and they respond with an understanding of how important it is, whether they have a veteran in their family or they are a veteran themselves. My favorite conversations after shows are when people come up to me and tell me they are first responder or have a dad or grandpa who was a veteran. You know, hearing this come up in shows and conversations, I think people find a lot of hope in the fact that it’s an active conversation, and that means the world to me. 

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Do you choose specific writers to help deliver the message you’re trying to get out in your songwriting? 

I love that question! I’ve worked with some artists that do Warrior Rounds, Operation Song, and some of those organizations, and it’s been fun to talk to them and swap stories. I think it would be fun if those of us that do veteran stuff got together and did a fundraiser or something for all the organizations we work with. That would be great. 

Tell me about some of the other songs on your EP. The pool of country music is so broad these days, and you lean so traditional and unapologetically share your love of that sound on “Country Back.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to hear more Steel and Fiddle on mainstream radio. I don’t mind what everyone else is doing. I think it’s awesome. But if I can bring a little bit of that back, I think it’s coming, anyway. But if I can help with it, I’m more than happy to do that. 

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How about your song, “Love Me.” Can you talk about that one? 

It’s so funny. That one we wrote at the end of January, and we were cutting, and we cut two more, we just kind of added a couple to the batch, and I was like, ‘Oh gosh. I want to throw this one on.’ So we cut it at the end of the day. I’m so happy that we put it on. It’s one of my favorites. I was super excited to have more of that, not a sad girl ballad, but kind of. We needed that on there, especially with the next collection I’m looking to put out in the next couple of months. So from the Billy Bob and Charlene reference to how it resolves. They crushed the Fiddle and Steel. 

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Is there anyone you wish you could collaborate with in country music? 

I love Cody Johnson. He’s been doing this for a long time, especially, you know, just the sound of his music. He does this great speech about veterans. He has everyone stand up at his concert. It’s in line with what I believe and how we should respect our first responders, doctors, and nurses. He calls out everyone in his speech, and it’s incredible. I would love to work with him. 

You will be releasing a single with the Swon Brothers. Can you talk about that? 

We’ve had that single in the works for a while. It’s done. But you know, you figure out schedules and decide when to put something out, and if you want to have a video with it you have to coordinate the schedule for that. But we’re going to come out with that and do a part two with this EP. So it’ll probably come out when that comes out. 

Speaking of part two, should fans expect a full album? 

I think so. It didn’t start that way, but you write for so long and have so much stuff. Then you’re like, ‘Alright. If people want a real picture of who I am, they gotta hear all of that.’ 

Fans can keep up with Alexis Wilkins on Instagram.

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Melinda Lorge

Written by

Melinda Lorge

Melinda Lorge is a Nashville-based freelance writer who specializes in covering country music. Along with Country Now, her work has appeared in publications, including Rare Country, Rolling Stone Country, Nashville Lifestyles Magazine, Wide Open Country and more. After joining Rare Country in early 2016, Lorge was presented with the opportunity to lead coverage on late-night television programs, including “The Voice” and “American Idol,” which helped her to sharpen her writing skills even more. Lorge earned her degree at Middle Tennessee State University, following the completion of five internships within the country music industry. She has an undeniable love for music and entertainment. When she isn’t living and breathing country music, she can be found enjoying time outdoors with family and friends.