Singer/songwriter Laci Kaye Booth may be recognizable to fans of American Idol, but the rising country artist has been putting her music in front of audiences long before she got her start on the popular singing competition show. Despite her parents separating when she was three years old, Booth came from a musical family and began her career very young, often covering songs from her biggest musical influences on her grandmother’s porch.
After placing in the Top 5 on Season 17 of Idol, the Texas native relocated to Nashville, where she fully immersed herself in Music City’s treasured songwriting circles. In the fall of 2020, she signed on with Big Machine Label Group and 19 Recordings. And, on August 6, she released her major label debut self-titled EP.
Some of the offerings on the eight-track collection include the honest and vulnerable, “If He Would’ve Stayed,” the sassy “Treasure,” and a tear-soaked collaboration featuring Lady A’s Charles Kelley called “Broken Heart Still Beats.” Booth’s most current single, “Shuffle,” is set to impact country radio on September 13. The tune, co-penned with Sam Ellis, and Derrick Southerland, pays homage to females everywhere and namechecks some of the biggest hit songs in country music like Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine,” Patsy Cline’s “Fall To Pieces,” The Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl” and more.
“I was on my way to the write, and my grandma kept popping into my head,” Booth told Country Now of the inspiration behind “Shuffle.” “When we were little, she would sing karaoke, and her song for my grandpa was always “Stand By Your Man.” And let me tell you, he was a wild one back in the day, so she really stood by him!”
“I was trying to think about that in the context of my own relationship, and when I got to the writing, I said, “I’m somewhere between “Stand By Your Man” and “Goodbye Earl.” We all got a good laugh out of that and knew we had to write this song. I also wanted it to pay homage to so many great female artists that came before me, and I love how it turned out,” she added.
Booth recently caught up with Country Now to share more about her new EP, her country music background, and what’s to come.
Read more about Laci Kaye Booth in this exclusive Q&A below!
How did you begin your career in country music?
Honestly, I don’t remember a time when music wasn’t all around me, and I wasn’t obsessed with it. So, I think it was second nature, to be honest. My dad was a Texas country music artist – and he still is. And, my mom grew up singing in church with her sister, so we always had karaoke contests out on the back porch. So, it was all around me from a very young age. I think my very first onstage performance was when I was eight years old. My dad’s side of the family is all musicians from way back. They had a Texas swing band called the County Ramblers. So, they put on this Jubilee every year in Huntsville, Texas, and I have performed every year at it since I was eight years old. I think that’s when I got my first standing ovation. That was what lit a fire in my soul. So, that’s how it all started.
After competing on American Idol, you moved to Nashville. How did you begin navigating your career in Music City, and did anything surprise you?
There were a lot of surprises because I had gotten used to doing everything by myself. I would go and play and sing with my dad a little bit, but nothing more than that. I was used to going to restaurants or bars, sitting there with my guitar, and performing. I always wrote by myself and never really wrote with anybody. So, when I went to Nashville, it was a game-changer. I got to have my very first co-write, and I made all these connections with people. It was an eye-opening experience for me.
Last year, you signed with Big Machine Label Group. Can you tell me about that process?
Oh my gosh! That was such a crazy process! When I first moved here, I could only dream of being signed by a label. Once Dann Huff got involved, he’s my producer, and Autumn House connected us. I had a meeting over at his house, and that went well. Once that happened, people started talking, and I started getting into meetings with these different labels. I was very excited, but once I met with Big Machine, it just felt like home. I went over to Jimmy Harnen’s house. He is the President of my label, and he had the whole team there to meet me. Everybody was so welcoming, and I feel lucky to say that they were the right match.
Congratulations on releasing your new EP! How does it feel to have new music out?
I’m excited. When I was about 17, I played gigs everywhere to save up money so that I could go into a studio to record. I had no idea what I was doing. So, I went to record a few songs at this place called Rosewood Studios, which is amazing! But, ever since then, I haven’t put new music out. And, so this is my first release since then, and my first new release since American Idol. It’s a big deal for me because It’s something that I’ve always dreamt of doing.
How would you describe this project?
People always have asked me, like, what am I going to expect from these songs, and when I first moved to Nashville, I tried to come up with something that would describe me, and I came up with the term, “Dreamy Country.” I had never heard it before, but I felt like it fit because I was always inspired by Stevie Nicks and Nora Jones from a very young age, plus all old-school country music like Shania Twain and The Chicks. So, I have a bunch of inspirations, but I think Stevie and Nora influenced me the most. So I say “Dreamy Country” because I think that’s what you hear in some of the songs. And, I feel like this is a well-rounded collection that has a little bit of something for everybody.
Did you find it difficult to whittle down the songs to eight for this project?
That was the most painful thing I’ve ever been through, trying to choose which ones to put on there! I wrote over 400 songs this past year since I’ve been here, especially during Covid-19! So, that was very painful, but I believe these were the right eight to have on there.
You spent two years putting together this EP. With last year’s shutdown, how did you navigate that part of the process?
I was worried at first. I think we were set to roll out everything during that time, right when it hit because I had my first meeting with Big Machine in January. But then the world shut down in March. So, I was scared that I was going to lose everything that was right in front of me. So I was at a loss for a little bit. Then I put my head down and decided to write and better myself every single day. I’m sure a lot of other people did that too. But, I was like, ‘If my release is going to be postponed, because of this, I’m going to make it ten times better than what it is.’ So, I’m grateful even though that was such a hard time, and so many horrible things happened. I have to look at the brighter side of it. And, I got to better myself and work on my writing, and hopefully, it was all worth it.
One song on your EP is called “Visions.” What was the inspiration behind that song?
I wrote that one the first year when I moved to Nashville. I think everyone knows I’m a huge Stevie Nicks fan. Vision is a word that she uses in a lot of her songs. So, this song feels very dreamy and very Stevie. So, every writer in Nashville has this little notepad, and I wrote it down, and I was like, ‘I want to write a song called ‘Visions.’ So that was my inspiration, and we made it with inspiration from Fleetwood Mac. It’s about envisioning a future with somebody. Maybe you’ve been with a couple of people before, and you never really saw that future with that person. And, then once you’re with this one person, it’s like, ‘Bang! And, all of these visions come to you, and you can see them one day at the altar, and you can see them one day holding your kid. So it’s a sweet song about that.
Tell me about your collaboration with Lady A’s Charles Kelley.
I have always been a huge Lady A fan. I got to see them in 2013 at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. So, when the chance came for me to write with Charles, I was just shocked and so happy to do it. We got together at Paul DiGiovanni’s house. It was me, Adam Hambrick and Charles Kelley, and we wrote the song “Broken Heart Still Beats.” I was about to put my vocal on the demo, and I was like, ‘Charles, could you please harmonize here with me? I think that would sound amazing.’ He was 100% into it. So, he did it, and I mean, it just took the song to a whole new level! He is one of the most talented people in Nashville, so I asked him again to put his voice on the official recording, and he was more than happy to do it. I feel so lucky to have somebody of his caliber on this first release of mine.
Do you have a song on the EP that you consider to be your favorite?
My favorite would be “Used To You,” which is the very first track. I did that for a reason because it’s my favorite. And, it’s my favorite just because it was exactly what I was feeling on the day that I wrote it. It was magical, for me, because I sat there and sang it, recorded it, and I was like, ‘Did that even happen?’ It happened so fast! So, I was like, ‘Did I do that? It was crazy.’
Is there a song on your EP that you consider the most personal to you?
The most personal song, for me, is called “If He Would’ve Stayed.” It’s about my relationship with my dad. It was a difficult song for me to write, but I wrote it with Carlo Colasacco and James Slater. When we finished it, I sent it to my manager, and I was like, ‘Please don’t show this to anybody. It’s vulnerable, so I’d like to keep it in a vault.’ Then, it accidentally got slipped into a list of songs that went to the whole team. Jimmy, the president of my label, reached out to me and said, ‘Would you be comfortable recording this song?’ It was very therapeutic to write, and it took me some time, but finally, I said, ‘Yes, I would love to record it if it could be therapeutic for other people to listen to.’ So, I recorded it, and it was a blessing of a song because I could say everything that I needed to tell my dad. I sent it to him, and he said that it was everything he needed to hear in his entire life. So it helped our relationship, and I hope it helps other people’s relationships too.
Do you ever turn to your dad for advice when it comes to music?
Yes. And, it’s been that way for a while since I was 17 and playing shows. He helped me a lot in that way. Our relationship and music were very much the focus. And, I think, he knew just throwing me out there and letting me experience it on my own was the only way I was going to learn. And, he helped me a lot. He’s given me great advice, and honestly, he’s inspired me more than anything to chase this dream.
What do you want fans to take away from your music?
I love storytelling, and I hope people can relate to my music. I hope it gives them that feel-good kind of thing. My favorite thing about listening to music is getting into my car and having a feeling, whether it’s a sad song or a happy song, just being able to feel that emotion from a song. So I hope that is what people can take away with this. I also hope people find it authentic because that is the number one thing that I have always wanted to be different. So I hope people will hear that.
Are there any other projects that you’re working on that you can share with us?
Well, I’ll be performing at Stagecoach next year. I’m excited about that! I don’t have too many shows lined up right now, but I do have that one. It was supposed to happen in 2020, and it got canceled, which is understandable. I hope that I can do some more shows before this year is over. I also think people can look forward to that and also getting some music videos out there.
Fans can keep up with Laci Kaye Booth on Instagram.