Madeline Edwards Reflects On A Year Of Milestone Moments On The Heels Of Her Debut Album, ‘Crashlanded’
“This year has just been filled with things that I never in my lifetime thought I would ever experience…”
Madeline Edwards; Photo by Thomas Crabtree
Madeline Edwards caught the attention of fans across the country when she performed the song “Love My Hair” at the 2021 CMA Awards with Mickey Guyton and Brittney Spencer, a historic moment of empowerment for women. Since that breakout performance, Edwards has gone on to tour with Chris Stapleton, sign a record deal with Warner Music Nashville, and release her debut album Crashlanded.
She recently chatted with Country Now about her incredible year of milestone moments, her unapologetic new single “Mama, Dolly, Jesus,” and more.
Edwards says that while she was living in Texas before moving to Nashville, she prepared for what was to come by doing “all the things you’re supposed to do,” she laughs. From singing at the NBA playoffs with the Houston Rockets to an NPR Tiny Desk performance, all those moments led up to what happened this year.
“It’s funny looking back on them now, because this year has been so awesome that it’s almost made me have to take a look back at the things that built up to this year and made me prepared and ready for what this year had in store,” she says.
One of the highlights from the past 12 months was her first stadium show, with Chris Stapleton, Willie Nelson, and Sheryl Crow. “This year has just been filled with things that I never in my lifetime thought I would ever experience and definitely did not think I would experience them all in the span of one year.”
On her debut album Crashlanded, Edwards, co-wrote all 12 songs, bringing her experiences to the stories while still leaving room for the listener to insert themselves in the narrative. “I think I learned how to really communicate how I wanna tell my story while still being really, really thoughtful of the listener and the audience and not making the songs or the album too specific to my story that not anyone could just clip their selves or their situations and insert it into the song,” says Edwards. “I tried to do that as specifically as I could. Obviously, everyone has their own journey, everyone has their own story and I really wanted this album to tell mine, but also still really be empathetic to the listener and if they’re going through any type of struggle in their own life, whether it be like divorce or a hard death in a family or whatever it looks like, I wanted them to be able to listen to this and feel really heard. I didn’t want this to be a self-indulgent album.”
Edwards was also intentional about the order of the track listing, bringing in trusted advisors to help finalize the sequence. “I was really open to collaboration in terms of sending this out to a very small, trusted group of people that I really respect their artistic opinions,” she says. She sent her ideas to her brother, a Texas-based artist, and some of the creatives at her record label and said, “These are the songs that I want to make the record and this is the order that I want it to be in. But I would love some advice, I would love some collaboration on what y’all think.”
The final product wasn’t too far off from Edwards’ original vision, but she was thankful for the input. “The record’s cool, ‘cause it builds you up really high at the beginning and you have these songs like ‘Crash Landed’ and ‘Spurs’ and ‘Mama Dolly Jesus’ and ‘Forehead Kisses’ and then the song slowly takes you out, and with ‘Why I’m Calling’ and ‘Too Much of a Good Thing’ and ‘Heavy.’ And I think it’s a really cool progression of just even how life is and how dynamic life is. And I really wanted the record to be representative of that.”
Crashlanded Track Listing
1. “Crashlanded” – Madeline Edwards, Seth Mosely, Emily Weisband
2. “Spurs” – Madeline Edwards, Oscar Charles, Jessie Jo Dillon, Ryan Tyndell, Laura Veltz
3. “Mama, Dolly, Jesus” – Madeline Edwards, Jessie Jo Dillon, Jimmy Robbins, Laura Veltz
4. “The Biggest Wheel” – Madeline Edwards, Morgan Nagler, Rob Persaud
5. “Forehead Kisses” – Madeline Edwards, Emily Landis, and Jamie Moore
6. “The Wolves” – Madeline Edwards, Emma Lee, Gavin Slate
7. “How Strong I Am” – Madeline Edwards, Ross Copperman, Kate York
8. “Hold My Horses” – Madeline Edwards, Klare Essad, Joy Hanna
9. “Playground” – Madeline Edwards, Luke Dick, Laura Veltz
10. “Heavy” – Madeline Edwards, Luke Dick, Jessie Jo Dillon, Laura Veltz
11. “Why I’m Calling” – Madeline Edwards, Trannie Anderson, Seth Mosley
12. “Too Much Of A Good Thing” – Madeline Edwards, Trannie Anderson, Ian Christian
Edwards says that when fans listen to the album, she hopes that they feel loved, yet challenged. “I try to always communicate a lot of love and respect in my songwriting. I try to be as inclusive with my music as I can and I want people to feel challenged but also wrapped in a big hug when they listen cause I am challenging the listeners to do the hard thing.”
She went on to share her perspective about how it plays into the world around us. “I think there’s a lot of things in today’s society to keep us from making hard decisions and things that will make us better people in the end.” She recognizes that it can be hard to challenge people to do that, but that it’s done with love. “It’s kind of wrapping people in a big hug and telling them, ‘hey, I’ve done it too and it’s difficult and I fail in that every day, even to this day. And I empathize with what you’re going through and I just want you to know that I wouldn’t say this unless I had come out of it on the other side. And live to tell the tale that going through the hard thing is actually better for you, it’s gonna make you a stronger person.’ So I hope that the listener can hear that and know that it’s challenging while still comforting at the same time.”
Edwards’ current single “Mama, Dolly, Jesus” was born out of unexpected criticism from the Christian community. Written with Jessie Jo Dillon, Jimmy Robbins, and Laura Veltz, the group had a vision for a song that could possibly cross over to pop, perform well at radio, but still be consistent with Edwards’ story without sacrificing anything sonically.
Two years ago, Edwards released an EP called The Road, which told her story about walking away from her faith for a long time and ultimately coming back to it, becoming a Christian. In spite of the message, she received criticism from fellow Christians – not about the music, but about how she looked. “The cover of the record is me with an off-the-shoulder top and they found that to be pretty scandalous,” she laughed. “So I got a lot of really tough criticism from the Christian community for that and it made me kind of pissed off and it made me feel like I wasn’t valued as a Christian and my story of coming back to the Lord.” When she shared that story with her cowriters, they encouraged her to write a song about she doesn’t care about anyone else’s opinions except the people who really matter to her. “I told them the people I care about the most, their opinions of me, are my mom and Dolly Parton and Jesus.” Her co-writers were on board with the idea. “I think it’s really cool, cause it’s kind of tongue in cheek, challenging the critics from The Road record, but also kind of encouraging people that if you don’t love yourself, how do you expect to love other people?” She added that her husband help give her that perspective. He told her, “If they feel the need to go online and critique how you’re dressed, then it’s probably cause at the end of the day they don’t love themselves, so how do you expect to feel loved by them?” Edwards added that the song isn’t meant to put critics in their place, but to encourage them to be better at loving other people by learning how to love themselves.
The music video for “Mama, Dolly, Jesus” features Edwards’ friends from Nashville and Houston, which made the experience feel natural. “Having Vanity, who played drag Dolly, was amazing in the video. Everyone just seemed to have a really good time.” They didn’t finish filming until nearly 3 a.m., but they encouraged each other during the late night shoot. “Every single time someone would start to get tired or aggravated or whatever, all of us would start doing a little chant and cheering each other on and would just immediately put back the energy in the room. So it was really just one of the most positive experiences I’ve ever had in terms of directing and producing and putting together a music video.”
Earlier this year, Edwards got a serendipitous call during the middle of a writing session that would become a milestone moment. Recalling the moment in an Instagram post, she said:
“The day I got to tell my mom that I’m opening up for @chrisstapleton…I was in the middle of a write when I got the call from my manager @samiamentertainment and touring agent @lenorekinder. “You should probably step out of the room for this and don’t hold any sharp objects,” they told me on the phone. That’s when I got the news… “You got offered to open for Chris Stapleton.” My eyes immediately filled with tears, the kind that swell into a welt in the back of your throat and send shock waves through your face. I was even wearing my Chris Stapleton hat all day because of a bad hair day and had no idea. I immediately remembered the same tears I cried on the drive moving to Nashville (this time last year); fearing the unknown, grieving the home I was leaving in Houston, and yet so incredibly hopeful that God was leading me into this new chapter. Chris and Morgane Stapleton are my biggest influences not only because of their artistry but also because of their hearts and generosity towards others, always displaying kindness, always extending grace. That is the kind of artist I want to be. So, when I got the call that I get the honor of being on the road with them this summer, it just about rocked my world. This moment calling my mom to tell her the news is a proud moment for me. She was strong and endured so much for us, so that we could have opportunities to succeed in life like this. Every time I get to call her with news like this, it humbles me to tears. What an insane life this is. The grief and trauma we went through makes moments like this that much sweeter. I’m so insanely grateful. Grateful, grateful, grateful. Lord, you are better than I deserve. #allamericanroadshow”
While on tour with Stapleton, she observed how they balance their personal and professional lives. “I’m a huge admirer of him and his wife Morgane,” says Edwards. “It was really cool for me to see how they do music well while also prioritizing family.”
She also struck up a friendship with fellow opener and kindred spirit Elle King. “She’s probably one of my favorite people in this industry. She’s so unbelievably genuine and crazy,” Edwards laughs. “It’s kind of cool having her as a friend in this industry cause she’s someone that will just tell it like it is. And I think a lot of times in this industry with a lot of people that are just trying to kiss people’s asses or just say things that will probably advance their careers. It’s really cool having someone like her as a friend and someone like her in your corner. She’s never saying something to impress people. She will always just tell you the truth and she’ll always just tell it like it is.”
On August 13, Edwards made her Grand Ole Opry debut with her family by her side. “My mom got to be there, which was really special for me cause I wouldn’t get to do half of the things that I’m doing now if it weren’t for my mom. She was a huge rock in my life and she was the one that pushed me to do music and recognized the talent early on and she was very encouraging for me being in this space and it was really cool.” Now that her mom works in California and Edwards lives in Nashville, their time together means even more to her. “I wrote ‘Why I’m Calling’ about her and missing her and wanting to be close to her and it was really special getting to sing that for her at the Opry, especially during my debut.” It was an emotional night for the singer-songwriter, who reflected on her journey. “It was just one of those milestone moments of looking at how far we’ve come, but also looking at how fast it’s been happening.” Edwards moved to Nashville in February 2021 and recognizes that it doesn’t always happen so quickly. “Getting to do things like have an Opry debut this early on in the game is really, really special.”
Edwards is looking forward to resting in December to prepare for the “craziness” that will come in the new year, including a first-time appearance at the Stagecoach Festival and going on tour with one of her favorite artists, Ingrid Andress. “I think she’s just a powerhouse female artist and I have a lot of respect for her,” says Edwards.
She’s also dreaming big about the future of Crashlanded. “I might be putting the cart before the horse, but I want GRAMMY recognition for this record. I want it to do really well. I’m hoping for ‘Mama, Dolly, Jesus’ to maybe even get on radio.” Regardless of how the record performs, Edwards says she’s still incredibly proud of it, that she’s never heard anything like it. “I have a lot of respect for the people that worked on this record and I know that we’re gonna probably be working together for the next few decades together,” says Edwards. “It’s cool being able to have them rally around me too and be like, we wanna see this record do just as well as you want it to.”
Tags from this story: