In a tiny Louisiana town, where the population was only 300 at the time – there was a house surrounded by cornfields that was constantly blasting Glen Campbell, Hank Williams, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Buck Owens through the speakers during all hours of the day. It was a hardworking farmer trying to inspire and shape a young mind to understand the power behind storytelling and the beautiful lessons taught within the lyrics of country music. The little girl we speak of, is now Nashville’s most promising newcomer – Lainey Wilson.
As a farmer’s daughter, she has an unstoppable drive and fierce perseverance that is hard to come by today. However, the southern belle did not kick into gear when she saw her name gracing the top of the Billboard charts, but when she first sat down in the wooden pews at the legendary Grand Ole Opry at just the age of nine.
“I went to the Opry when I was nine years old for the first time, and we saw Little Jimmy Dickens, Bill Anderson, Crystal Gayle, and I remember how the Opry made me feel,” Wilson recalled the childhood memory with Country Now. “I felt right at home, in a weird and crazy type of way. I knew I was going to have the opportunity to get up there and stand in that circle.” Her young instincts were not wrong, as she made her debut on February 14, 2020, and was inducted into Opry’s NextStage class of 2021.
“I didn’t know how much of an impact they were going to truly have on my life and career,” shared Wilson about the iconic organization. “They have taken me under their wing and have been like ‘we believe in you, and we want to help you.’ That has been my prayer and it has been a huge blessing,” she concluded.
Before her captivating country twang spoke to the Opry – the hopeful musician moved to the ten-year-town in a bumper-pull trailer to pursue her craft. Upon arrival, the dreamer parked and lived rent-free outside a family friend’s recording studio, and while juggling the hardships that come along with living on four wheels, Wilson kept her eye on the prize to make a name for herself. The songstress made her rounds through the honky-tonk town networking, pitching, co-writing, and attending concerts. In fact, she stumbled upon Luke Combs at Tin Roof Revival in Nashville back when he was first stepping into the hyper-fickle country space. In a blink of an eye, Combs was knocking on her door to write.
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Wilson was not an overnight sensation, but her destiny in music was a topic of conversation in one simple phone call. It was early 2018 when her striking vocals in her independently released EP captured the attention of country music star, Jimmie Allen. The singer-songwriter instantly believed in her work and put his wheels in motion to get the go-getter in front of the right people.
“Jimmie Allen was actually the guy who got me my record deal,” revealed Wilson to Country Now reporter Tiffany Goldstein at CMT’s Live In The Vineyard. “He called Jon Loba over at Broken Bow Records, and he was like ‘You got to hear this girl.’ He also said, ‘She is one of the best unsigned artists in this town, and I am telling you that you need to pay attention.’ I mean, thank God for Jimmie Allen because he paid attention,” she laughed.
Following the life-altering phone call and Allen’s cutting-edge pitch, Wilson quickly scored a recording deal with BBR Music Group. It wasn’t long until Wilson released her 2021 label debut record, Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’ – an honest and vulnerable collection that embodies who Wilson is as a passionate vocalist, but also as an artist with solid values and a unique outlook on life.
“I feel strongly about saying what you think, saying what’s on your heart, but also thinking before you speak,” says Wilson in a statement. “Sometimes it’s hard, to be honest, but at the end of the day, it ain’t doing anybody any good to not be. Every song we put on the record, we basically asked, ‘Is this song saying what I‘m thinking? If it’s not, it didn’t make the list.”
The 12-piece track list includes her signature anthem “Things A Man Oughta Know,” which became her springboard to stardom. The lyric-driven ballad penned by Wilson, Jason Nix, and Jonathan Singleton became her first No.1 single on the Billboard Country charts. The inspiring singer was presented with the great honor while opening for Jason Aldean on his Back In The Saddle Tour.
“I happened to be out there on the road while it went number one. They presented me with this big old plaque with my face on it and a big old number one,” she shared full of excitement. “We we’re out by Jason’s tour buses, and he was like ‘Hey, let me show you a trick…just tilt your plaque up a little bit, so the camera doesn’t catch that flash.’ I was like, ‘Okay, you had way too many numbers ones to know that.’”
Off the heels of the successful tour with the country hitmaker, Wilson made her late-night TV debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live in Los Angeles. Following her grand performance of the chart-topping hit “Things A Man Oughta Know” on November 1, she caught up with Country Now in picturesque Napa Valley to discuss the pinch-me-moment.
“I’m telling you, I have watched Jimmy Kimmel for years, and to be asked to be a part of the show was just a dream come true. My family was so excited, they stayed up past their bedtime to watch,” says Wilson. “Just watching him hold up my record, introduce me, and to hear him even know my name was a wild thing for me.” After stepping off the respected Hollywood set sporting on-brand fire red bell-bottoms, the hitmaker proceeded to include new “firsts” under her belt by joining the star-studded lineup at CMT’s Live in The Vineyard.
Ahead of her performance at Regusci Winery in the brisk mountains of wine country, Wilson opened up about what the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity means to her and why the exclusive affair became a must-do on her career bucket list. “So many of these guys who are playing, I have looked up to them for years. To be on the same lineup as a lot of these musicians is really unreal. It’s an honor to be here, and when they invited me, I couldn’t get here quick enough. I have been wanting to do this event for years,” shared Wilson. “ I’ve got about 20 minutes to perform. So, I’m actually going to play five or six songs off the record. We don’t get to do that a whole lot, especially in an intimate setting where I can sit there, and I can tell the stories, why I wrote it, or who I wrote it about.”
The powerhouse vocalist did precisely that, as she had concert-goers singing along to fan-favorites like “Things A Man Oughta Know,” “Rolling Stone,” and praising the queen of country with her tribute anthem, “What Would Dolly Do.” The flawless performance gave label executives, radio directors, and reporters a sneak peek into the attention-grabbing setlist that Lainey Wilson will deliver out on tour with Dierks Bentley come 2022 and proved that she is an absolute superstar in the making.