HunterGirl Shares A New Perspective On Love In ‘Lonely Outta You,’ & Reflects On Living Out Her Dream
“I’m just living the dream right now, for sure.”
HunterGirl; Photo by David McClister
Rising Nashville artist, HunterGirl, is embracing her emotional side in her new love song, “Lonely Outta You.”
The tender melody and delicate guitar strums highlight HunterGirl’s distinctive vocals as she bears a hopefulness to mend a love interest’s broken heart and begin their own happy journey together. The singer/songwriter penned this endearing track with Sarah Buxton and Jimmy Robbins during her time on American Idol, before taking home second place at the end of Season 20.
During a conversation with her fellow contestants about the difficulty behind sharing deep emotions and being vulnerable on the stage or with a partner, a lightbulb struck HunterGirl, leading her to write “Lonely Outta You.”
This song follows a string of emotional releases including her No. 1 iTunes All Genre and Country chart-topping “Red Bird,” and the love letter to her hometown of Winchester, Tennessee, “Hometown Out Of Me.”
HunterGirl wrapped up 2022 playing her music on a co-headlining tour with 2022 American Idol winner Noah Thompson. This year, she is hitting the road on select dates with Luke Bryan, Parmalee, Josh Turner and Luke Combs for his pre-show tailgate stage.
Sitting down with Country Now, HunterGirl shared insight into the kind of artist she’s striving to be and all the big plans she has in store for 2023, starting with her latest release, “Lonely Outta You.”
You wrote “Lonely Outta You” during your time on American Idol. What was it that sparked the idea for this story?
I don’t have very many love songs; I think I’m kind of hateful. So this is like my second love song that I’ve written, but, you know, I’ve heard so many songs where guys are saying to another girl, like, “hey, lonely girl,” or any of these things. And I’m like, I don’t know if there’s any songs like that for guys. While I was on the show, some of the guys would ask me, “how are you so emotional on the show and showing people that?” You know, I was talking to them and it’s just kind of being okay with your emotions and putting yourself out there, which I think can be harder for guys sometimes. So I really wanted to write a song where anybody could be free to say that they care about somebody and loving the lonely outta somebody cause we all get lonely sometimes.
Have you had the chance to share this song with your fellow Idol contestants who inspired it in a way?
Lord, I’ve played it for everybody. I played it for my family, I played it for whenever I started just like writing it out there, I was showing it to all my friends and I was like, “what do you guys think?” So yeah, I was showing it to everybody back there and then coming home and showing it to them too.
Have you played “Lonely Outta You” live yet?
It’s so funny cause I just got back from a show last night, I got to play in Shelbyville, Tennessee and I ended up playing that song. It’s just so much fun and getting the crowd involved, there’s some bouncy parts during the bridge and everybody’s waving their hands. A lot of the love songs I write are definitely inspired by my grandparents too. They’ve been married over 60 years and they’re just best friends. My nana got married at 14 and I can’t get a text back at 24…times have changed. But yeah, they’re just the people I looked up to growing up and definitely, this song is for them.
You’ve released a few singles since Idol, so are there any plans to release a full project or an EP?
Yeah, definitely. I’ve been wanting to put some new music out in the world. I’ve been writing so many songs since I got off the show and just kinda been working on what I wanna say as an artist and who I wanna be. So definitely been in the studio a lot. Really excited to put out some new music even after “Lonely Outta You,” and just get to really show people who I am as an artist and what I wanna say going forward.
In the current season of American Idol, one of your Nashville shows with Noah Thompson was featured in an episode that featured a new contestant named Mariah Faith who was surprised with the news that she would be opening for that concert. What was that experience like?
It was just such a full-circle moment, you know? Like, it’s so wild watching it cause I got nervous even watching it on TV, I’m like, “I was there and I’m scared.” I think it’s just such a cool thing. I remember my first episode on the show, the Nashville auditions, and I was about to have a heart attack. You know, I was down at Luke’s bar and the judges showed up, and so I definitely could feel what Mariah was feeling a little bit. It was just so cool kind of getting to pass the torch on to the new season of American Idol contestants. And Mariah was so awesome, and her mama was so sweet, and with my career, I definitely just wanna keep passing it on. This season is just so incredible and I’m just glad I got to meet Mariah and she killed it.
What goes through your mind when you think about how far you’ve come since your time on the show ended?
It feels like the years flown by, honestly. You know, American Idol was a year of my life. I guess I auditioned probably in November of last year, and then just looking at it now, it’s just like my life completely 360’d. It’s just been so incredible and just getting to meet all the people that I was singing on the show for, you know, playing a lot of shows here recently and just that outpouring of love has just been so awesome. I’ve wanted to do this my whole life since I was three, and singing to my mom like, “I wanna be a country star.” And so just watching how everything’s progressed and all the work that I put in at a young age, like, you know, I’m just living the dream right now, for sure.
If there was someone who didn’t get to know you through Idol, what would you tell them to explain who you are as an artist and the kind of music that you’re striving to make?
I definitely wanna put out music that’s authentically me. Like whenever somebody hears one of my songs, I wanna feel like they opened up my journal and read every word. I think that being the most honest version of yourself can help somebody through a really tough time. Like during “Red Bird,” just sharing a moment from my life that I didn’t know if anybody would understand, and I just didn’t know how many people had said that too. Then, you know, “Hometown Out Of Me,” just talking about my hometown and how much they supported me on the show. I definitely want my music to uplift people and also make ’em have a good time too.
You talk a lot about feeling the support from the community in your hometown and your parents. What has it been like to have them along for this journey?
It’s been incredible just because like, they started taking me around anywhere I asked whenever I was 14. I was like, “please take me.” Just wanting to get out there and I definitely feel like it’s their journey too. You know, they’ve just been on this ride with me, and I’m so excited about everything, but I can’t even imagine because I feel like they’re just even more excited. Every show that I have, they’re just like screaming and having a good time. And them getting to see me open for Laney Wilson, that was just incredible. They’re just like, “oh my gosh, are we allowed to be here?” You know, and they’re standing in the VIP section. And just how much life has changed, I always wanna bring my family to everything that they get to go to. I’m just always glad to have mom and daddy around because they were there when there was nobody in the audience and I was writing songs at like 13 and I’m sure that my songs at 13 were probably terrible but it’s just good to see the growth. I’m just glad they get to come along with me for it.
This summer you will be opening for a few dates of Luke Bryan’s Country On Tour. What does it mean to you to get to be on the road with him?
It’s so incredible. Like, he is so nice, even whenever I was on the show. Him believing in me from the get-go, you know, that meant a lot to me. I remember having his CD in my car in high school and then getting to see him in person, I’m like, “oh my God.” I was trying to pinch myself. I actually was out in Vegas for shows and everything and whenever I was there, he invited me out to Resorts World and I got to go talk to him for a little bit and got to see his show. He is just such a superstar and such a great human, and like, I got to meet so many people on his team and they’re just like, “he is the nicest guy ever,” and just how he treats people. I definitely wanna be that artist someday and just great onstage and offstage and that’s definitely who he is.
What goals have you set that you’re hoping to acheive this year?
I wanna play as many shows as possible this year, definitely wanna put out more music that I’m really, really proud of. I got a lot of stuff in the works, but I would love to open up for more people and play more shows and yeah, any opportunity that comes my way. I think just the goal this year is to hit the ground running, work really, really hard and get my foot in the door anywhere I can. It’s already been such a great year already and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year holds, for sure.
Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.