Madeline Edwards may be newer on the country scene, but she certainly isn’t new to country music. The rising California-born and Texas-raised singer/songwriter grew up well-versed in many genres and has always looked up to artists like Keith Urban and Shania Twain. Although it was Ella Fitzgerald who caught her ears first, Edwards says she always knew country would inevitably become part of her “permanent sound.”
Edwards made her way to Nashville in early 2021 and began networking with some of the brightest musicians and songwriters. Her talent and persistence landed her many opportunities, including a guest spot on Lady Gaga’s Born This Way tribute record with The Highwomen. In 2021, Edwards made her national television debut at the CMA Awards, performing “Love My Hair” alongside Mickey Guyton and Brittney Spencer.
Aside from playing a role in some once-in-a-lifetime collaborations, Edwards, who confidently blends elements of jazz, soul, gospel, and country, has released a solo track called “Best Revenge.” The tune, which is all about moving on, was inspired by a situation she got into with an ex-landlord. Edwards’ previous single, “The Road,” also garnered over 1 million streams and counting. Now signed to Wasserman Music and named a 2022 CMT Next Women of Country, Edwards shows no signs of slowing down.
Edwards, who is currently working on her debut album, caught up with Country Now to talk about her musical background and influences, her plans for 2022, and more.
Read on to learn more about Madeline Edwards in this exclusive Q&A below.
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How did you begin your career in music?
I started playing music when I was about four years old. My mom immediately put my siblings and me into piano when we were around five years old. We also did children’s choir and sang Christmas carols around California before moving to Texas. I moved to Texas right before high school. So, much of my sound is influenced very heavily by West Coast jazz and then country and Southern soul music from the Texas side of things.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
I always tell people that I remember listening to Ella Fitzgerald when I was little, and I knew that music was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was not sure how that would turn out or if I would be a good singer. But, I was moved enough by her voice that I knew I always wanted to play music. So, she is just one influence. I grew up singing and playing jazz, but I have a deep appreciation for multiple genres. My parents would play The Carpenters in our house, and they would also play Shania Twain. We would always have such rich music in our house all of the time. I loved it. I loved deep diving into what genres meant, not just what they sounded like, but what they meant during the periods they were in and who they were affecting.
I’ve loved country music since I was a little girl. I remember, my mom was always obsessed with Keith Urban. She still is! I listened to him when I was 12 and he was so artistic. Everything he was doing was so out of the box and different from a lot of the country on the radio. Don’t get me wrong, though. I love artists like Brad Paisley and Tim McGraw. But, Keith was implementing piano into country songs, and I appreciated that because I play the piano. That’s what I’ve been playing for over 20 years. He was able to implement piano into music and his artisticness into his music videos like ‘Tonight I Wanna Cry,’ where he’s taking this ballad and making it completely country.
You describe your music as a blend of ‘West coast jazz and Southern soul.’ How did the country genre make its way into your sound?
I love country music! I’ve always wanted to make it a part of my sound. So, this trajectory I’ve been on, I always knew, down the line, I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but country was going to become a permanent part of my sound. So over the past couple of years, I’ve been doing a deep dive into country music from 1800’s bluegrass to folk music and jazz. I’ve been diving into how that was then implemented into Western music with Ray Price and how it ended up coming into the modern country today with Randy Travis, Tim McGraw, and George Strait. So, I love it. It’s the last true form of storytelling, and I’ve always considered myself to be a storyteller, first and foremost. And, I love that country music has stayed true to form in terms of still telling stories to this day. It’s always attracted me to the genre. So, I’m super excited to make it a part of my permanent sound. I think it’s become a natural transition.
Now that you have made a transition into the country genre. Have you made your way to Nashville?
I actually moved to Nashville from Texas in February of 2021. So, next month, I will have been here for a year, which is awesome! I love Nashville! The songwriters here are just next-level. They are bred for this. It’s amazing working with these songwriters. I had never really worked with songwriters before I started writing country music. I’ve always written with my siblings and with my brother. My brother is another artist out. He’s incredible. He’s more in the vein of Leon Bridges and Charley Crockett. But he was the only other person that I wrote songs with. Then, when I started doing my Gospel record and country music, I started writing with other songwriters. I’ve written with incredible writers here, and I’ve continued to write with songwriters in Texas as well, which is amazing because I love the idea of keeping my Texas roots. I claim Houston as my hometown. So, I love to work with people over Zoom or back home whenever I go back to Texas.
Where do you draw inspiration from when it comes to songwriting?
A lot of my inspiration comes from anything. Sometimes, I’ll get a tune in my head in the shower or, well, this is funny. The other day, there was this beeping sound in my car. So, whenever the car doors would be open while it was on, it would be beeping. So, I was harmonizing on top of the beeping without knowing it. I caught myself and started tapping my leg in cadence with the beeping. So, then I randomly wrote a song out of it. So, I hear anything. I can hear leaves falling, the oven beeping, a car alarm going off, and for some reason, I randomly hear inspiration. I think it’s just in my blood a little bit.
You recently made your television debut on the CMA Awards stage. How did that collaboration come together with Mickey Guyton and Brittney Spencer?
Yes! I met Mickey and Brittney very soon after I moved to Nashville. I met them the month I lived here. I was at a dinner party and met both of them that way. Mickey and I hit it off immediately. She’s been a fan of my music ever since I met her. She face-timed Brittney and me a month before the CMA performance and asked us. She said, “I had just got done with a meeting with the producers of the CMA Awards, and they wanted to ask if I wanted to have any other artists debuting with me on ‘Love My Hair.’” So, she told them she wanted Brittney and me and then face-timed us to tell us the news. We were shell-shocked because I had never done anything on that level. I had done TV performances before, but nothing to that level. I have sung the national anthem for the NBA playoffs, and I was on the NPR Tiny Desk set, but I never did anything to that extent. I know Brittney has done some big things too. But, even she has never done anything to that level before. So, both of us were just really shocked that we were asked to not only be a part of such a big night in country music but also invited to be a pinnacle part of history. It was special for us and very emotional for sure.
How has that experience changed things in terms of your career?
Everything post-CMA Awards has been – I mean, my life has changed a lot since the CMA Awards. I’m not going to lie. My life has changed since I’ve moved to Nashville. I can meet many amazing people here and have meetings with labels. I have an incredible management team that I love. They’ve worked with Kane Brown and Kacey Musgraves. They are the cream of the crop for sure. But, I think about four months after moving here. I sang with Brittney Spencer and The Highwomen for Lady Gaga’s record. We did a version of ‘Highway Unicorn.’ So, my whole experience here in Nashville has been life-changing. But, everything since CMA’s has been insane. I can’t hint at too much yet, but I think this year is going to be a huge year for myself and my team. I’m blown away because it’s something that you work towards your whole life, and then the day that it finally comes, it just knocks you off your feet. I am very grateful.
You recently released your single “Best Revenge.” Can you tell me the inspiration behind that song?
Yes. It’s funny. It never gets less funny telling this story. I feel like I’ve shared this story many times. But, it’s still hilarious. So, I wrote this song about an ex-landlord of mine. She was horrible. I was getting married and moving out, and she made the process incredibly difficult. I was just really annoyed. I was on a plane on my honeymoon and just really upset about the whole situation. My husband was like, ‘You know what? The best revenge is moving on. I think you need to let it go.’ And, we both were like, ‘Oh my gosh! That’s a great title for a song.’ So, I took that and ran with it, and I ended up collaborating with two songwriters on it. And, we ended up writing over zoom and made it what it is today. I love this song. I think it’s universal. I don’t think when you listen to the song that you think it’s about a landlord. You might think that it’s about an ex-lover or a former best friend. I love it when people can take songs and apply them to any season or any situation in their life. So, that’s what I tried to do with this song.
What do you want fans to take away from your music?
In everything that I do, whether it be my music or me performing live or even just me as a person if they watch an interview that I do or read something about me online, I want people to know that I always try to lead with a lot of love and grace. I’ve been through enough hardship in my life to know that there’s a lot of people out there that are going through a lot of hard crap. I think there’s a lot of hope for people that they don’t necessarily know that they have. I want to extend that for people listening to my music or seeing me on TV, or whatever that looks like. I think people found a lot of hope from us singing ‘Love My Hair’ on that stage, and I think there’s a lot of hope when people listen to my music. I want to provide that for people because I’ve been to those places before. I’ve been in really dark spaces, and it gets tough and scary in those times. So I want to be a hand of hope for people going through that.
What is next for you?
Right now, I’m pinning down the final songs for a record. We’re going to be demoing them out very soon here, hopefully, in the next month or two. And fingers-crossed. I’m hoping that this time next year, we’ll have a full-length album to start promoting to release it or at least start releasing some singles from it or something. I’ll be playing several shows this year, possibly some international shows and shows within the US. So, I’m excited about that. And, we’ll be releasing a few singles throughout the year, whether they’ll be from the record or not. So, I’m excited for people to hear that. I think people are going to like the sound. They’re not going to know what to do with it, but I think they’re going to love it because jazz and country have always gone hand-in-hand, whether people have seen it or not, but jazz and country have always been intertwined with one another. So, I’m excited to be putting that in my music and in front of the world.
Fans can keep up with Madeline Edwards on Instagram HERE.