Country Next: Amanda Kate
We take pride in introducing fans to country music’s brightest new stars through our Country Next series. Here, we chat with Amanda Kate.
Amanda Kate; Photo by Ford Fairchild
Amanda Kate’s hands are full as a mother, a wife, and the lead singer of two bands.
A Midlothian, TX native, Kate grew up watching her mom, Kathy Wright, perform on stage as an original member of the Dean Martin Golddiggers. Kate shared the same passions as her mother, who sadly passed away from cancer, and later released a critically-acclaimed debut album entitled Time in her honor.
“I wanted a body of work that was ours. So, that’s what that was. I didn’t have any expectations of people liking it because it was really for me,” Kate told Country Now of the project.
Now, Kate is introducing herself to the fans with the release of her self-titled EP, Amanda Kate. The five-track project, which debuted on Dec. 3, is a welcome throwback to ‘90s country and features previously released lead track, “Walk” and “Little I Got,” as well as new tunes, “Baby It’s You,” “Deconstruction of a Heartache,” and “Little Girl.”
“I’m a traditional country artist,” Kate said in a recent press release. “Nineties country was what I grew up listening to, and I think there’s room for that more traditional sound in today’s music. I’m hoping to bring something different, a little bit of a throwback, to what country was and what I remember growing up listening to with a new, modern flair.”
Along with new music, Kate also fronts a Carrie Underwood tribute band called Blown Away. With the band, she recently appeared on a new episode of the E! Jimmy Fallon-produced series, Clash of the Cover Bands, which airs Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. CT.
Kate recently caught up with Country Now to chat more about her brand new EP, Blown Away cover band, and upcoming plans.
Read on to find out more about Amanda Kate in this exclusive Q&A below.
How did you begin a career in country music?
My mom was a singer/songwriter my whole life. She wrote Country music and Christian music. So, I was very inspired by her at a very young age. She started writing music for me professionally, I would say, when I was around 14. I think the first song I ever sang was during Girls Night Out at this well-known bar in Southern California. So, I feel like country music is all I’ve ever known.
You also front a Carrie Underwood cover band. How did you get into doing that?
Yeah! It’s crazy! I think with any artist, when you’re paying your dues, you have to play cover songs. And a lot of requests always came through for Carrie Underwood. We’d be playing, and they would ask for her all the time. Before I knew it, we’d be playing over an hour of Carrie Underwood music. So, then the band was like, ‘Why don’t we put a tribute together?’ So, we did, honestly, with no expectations. We just did it for fun, and before we knew it, we took off, and people were requesting the show, and we got to travel all over and do all kinds of things with the tribute. So, it’s been a fun experience!
Has your Blown Away cover band led you to go on tours with other artists?
Yes! We ended up opening for Clint Black with the Carrie show, which was a cool experience! It was a private event that happened somewhere in Oregon. It’s also been a great way to showcase my original music because, within the tribute show, I’ll put in some of my original music as well. But Carrie has inspired me in so many ways because she’s both a mom and a Christian. So a lot of what she pulls from that inspires her music inspires me too. So, it’s been a cool thing to sprinkle in my original music while still paying tribute to Carrie.
Have you met Carrie Underwood yet?
No, I’ve never met her, but I would love to. It’s funny because people ask me that all the time. Honestly, If I did meet her, I would ask for advice, or I would say, ‘If you could do anything differently, what would it be?’ With any major artist like that, it would be really valuable advice.
Update: Amanda Kate met Carrie Underwood in Vegas after the interview.
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Blown Away was featured on E! as part of a new show called Clash of the Cover Bands. Can you tell us about that?
Yeah! I never thought in a million years that the tribute would be what got me on TV! In my mind, I always pictured it would be The Voice, or American Idol, or something like that. But, because it was Carrie, I feel like it was a huge honor. I feel blessed that they asked me to do it and let me get up there and represent somebody I’m such a fan of, so it was an awesome experience! TV can go different ways because some people have great experiences and some don’t. But, they were very gracious and wanted to make sure that we were doing right by the artist. For me as an aspiring artist too. They knew that I was using the show to promote my career because the tribute band is not my career. It’s something I do for fun.
How do you juggle being in a tribute band, being Amanda Kate, and life at home?
It’s not easy! Before being a mom, I could live my life pretty selfishly. You know, you can get ready on your own time, make your schedule. So, it’s taken a lot more juggling. But, I think it’s also grounded me in such a way of really knowing what’s important. I used to stress out so much about things that do not matter at the end of the day. What’s important is my little girl and making sure she’s happy and taken care of and having fun. So, it’s grounded me for sure!
You also have a song called “Little Girl” featured on your EP. Can you share the inspiration behind that song?
‘Little Girl’ is a song I wrote about my little girl. I got to co-write it with some of my dear friends. Eli Rhodes is an artist and writer that I’ve worked with for a long time. He helped me write that one with his wife, Amy. But that song means a lot to me because I wrote it right after she was born. Then we finished writing it when she was around two years old. So, it was a work-in-progress song, but I’m proud of it. It means the most to me out of all the songs on the EP.
Tell me more about your self-titled EP.
The EP came together because the last album I did was very personal. It was, for me, a tribute to my mother. She passed away from cancer, and I wanted a body of work that was ours. So, that’s what that was. I didn’t have any expectations of people liking it because it was really for me. Then with this EP, I wanted the music to be for the fans and music that other people could relate to. I wanted it to be more light-hearted, sassy, and fun – similar to the songs that I love singing on stage with all of these covers that we do. I was like, ‘You know, I want to do a ‘90s throwback EP and have that flair of the ‘90s country that I love with more of a spin-on today. So, Brett Tyler came on board as a producer, and he just knocked it out of the park, and I’m so excited for people to hear it!
Can you talk about some of the other songs on the EP, like “Walk” and “Deconstruction of a Heartache”?
So, ‘Walk’ came to me through Kimberly Kelly, Brett Tyler’s wife. And, she wrote that several years ago, and I think that originally she was planning on covering it, but never did. And, we were listening through hundreds of songs. That was one that she said, ‘Hey, I wrote this a long time ago, and I feel like you would kill it if it sits well with you.’ I heard it, and immediately, I was like, ‘This is my sassy girl anthem.’ So, I heard it, and I think for me too, I went through a divorce at a young age. So, I think, when you have relationships that don’t end well, and you have the strength to walk away and move on, there’s nothing better than that female empowerment song. That’s what ‘Walk’ was for me. So, I heard that one and wanted it to be on the EP.
Then, we had ‘Deconstruction of a Heartache,’ which was, I mean, the minute I heard it, it brought me back to Jo Dee Messina. It brought me back to that time in country music that I loved. So, based on the first guitar licks on the demo, I was like, ‘This is it. This is the song I am going to do.’
How about, ‘Little I Got?’ I read that Maren Morris co-wrote that one.
Yeah, she wrote that one with Brett Tyler. He was like, ‘Hey, I don’t know if you’ll like this one, but it fits where you’re at in your life. It’s all about cherishing the important things. It’s not about the cars, money or the house. It’s about the family and the little things. So, the minute I heard it, I was like, ‘This is one of the ones we’ve got to do!’
Have you played these songs out live?
We’ve done some acoustic stuff. We’re doing an EP release party in California. We’re flying out to go start and play with the band. But, yeah, that will be the first time we’re going to get to play these songs. We’re going to NFR (National Finals Rodeo) for the rodeo, so I’ve got some performances that we’re going to be doing there. I’ve sprinkled them in over the last year, here and there at some shows, but this will be the first full Amanda Kate release show.
What are you most looking forward to for the rest of 2020?
Of course, the holidays! I am so excited about Christmas! It’s probably my favorite time of year, going to NFR too. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the rodeo in Vegas. But, with all of the shopping and the lights, it is a magical time for all things western. So, we’re excited about that! Over these last two years, I’ve learned to be careful about your expectations, to enjoy every moment for what it is, and to live in the moment.
Fans can keep up with Amanda Kate on Instagram.
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.