Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, which means people all over are celebrating love and the warm feelings and excitement that come along with it.
Taryn Papa knows just how that feels in her brand new single entitled, “Awake.” The dynamic love song, out Friday, Feb. 11, puts the rising country artist in the midst of a fresh romance that not only sweeps her off of her feet but also helps her to discover a whole new perspective that she otherwise wouldn’t have.
“You opened up my eyes / Seeing things in a whole new light / Making me feel alive when I’m with you / Honey the world is looking brand new / Baby, I love the way, you’ve got me wide awake,” Papa sings of her whirlwind experience throughout the chorus of the uptempo tune.
Written with Emma Klein and Jared Keim, the effervescent “Awake” is the first taste of what fans can expect from Papa since her successful run on season 19’s The Voice. The track is also the first offering from the Connecticut-raised singer/songwriter’s forthcoming EP of the same name. No date has been announced for the upcoming release yet, but the collection of cuts, all co-written by Papa, promises to be a “celebration of the good things in life: new love, old thrills and the joy of surrounding your heart to a worthy partner.”
Country Now recently caught up with Papa to discuss her musical journey, new music and what’s to come. Read on to find out more about Papa’s “Awake” track in this exclusive Q&A…
Congratulations on the release of your new single, “Awake.” So fans were introduced to you through The Voice, but can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Yes! So, when I was around 13-years-old, my mom bought me a Martina McBride album. It was her self-titled album. My dad went to The Home Depot, and purchased these huge closet door mirrors. I would just put on a concert for myself. I was like Martina every day in my bedroom (laughs). Country music wasn’t something that I grew up with, though. We had one country station in Connecticut. But, I just loved the stories that country music always had to say, and how genuine and authentic it was and how real it was. I felt like people just connected with country music because of that. So, it flipped a switch for me, and I wanted to be a country singer. I moved to Nashville when I was 23 and started singing in the honky-tonks on Lower Broadway and grew through The Voice. Now, I’m releasing my new single, which is so exciting. So, it’s been a long journey but a good one!
What’s the inspiration behind “Awake”?
It’s been almost a year ago now that I met someone. For me, he just totally opened my eyes to things that I never was aware of before. For example, I never noticed these cute couples holding hands. Of course, I see all of that, but I never thought I could have that for myself. I also never knew I wanted that until I was getting that. So, that just totally made me feel awake, and it opened my eyes to the world in a whole new way. I feel like I’m in this new phase and chapter in my life. So, it’s a perfect time to release a new song that will be a new journey for all of us and a new chapter that hopefully my fans will gravitate towards.
How did this song take shape in the writing room?
I wrote this song with two other songwriters in Nashville. I was explaining to them about this relationship I had with this person that I met. One of the lines in the song goes, ‘It was just another streetlamp until you kissed me underneath.’ Those little things, like ‘Has the sky always been this blue?’ You know, I never noticed all of these things that couples did or that my friends did because I’ve never really fallen in love before. So it’s all been super new, and I was telling them how excited I was that I found this person and had all of these feelings. So, they were like, ‘That’s a cool title to be awake to something. If you know what love is now, you don’t ever not want to experience it.’ So that’s how this song came about.
Sonically, how would you describe “Awake” to listeners who haven’t heard it?
I would say it’s a pop-country anthem for sure! I love the pop aspect. I grew up singing along to Kelly Clarkson and Christina Aguilera. You know, all of the pop icons. I love mixing that aspect with the Martina [McBride] range and style. Those inspirations helped me to create my little lane.
Are there any artists you turn to for inspiration when writing your songs?
I love how bold Maren Morris is with her melodies. I think that encourages me with my music.
What message do you want fans to take away from your music?
I feel like this is such a modern take on country music, and I’m just hoping my fans will gravitate towards it. With this new single, I want everyone to feel like they can relate to my music and relate to the stories. I want to feel fresh and relatable, and genuine. And I want them to feel excited, like if they’re playing these songs on the radio in their convertible with the top down in the summer.
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Have you had time to reflect on your musical journey so far?
Yes. So, when you first start as an artist in Nashville, at least for me, you kind of look to other artists to see what they’re doing. If they’re suddenly making progress, then you’re like, ‘Oh! So and so put out this song, and that worked. Let me try and do that too.’ But then you realize that’s not being unapologetically yourself. So looking back, I realize that the reason things have worked for me or when they are successful for me it’s because I am staying true to myself. I am not trying to follow a trend. Blazing your trail and trying to make waves, and doing everything 100% true to you is very important. I learned that in the last couple of years. Also, through the pandemic, The Voice came at the perfect time because Broadway essentially closed down. So, it gave me a boost and let me know that other people in the world would get on board with who I am and what I am trying to say, and what I want to sing about.
What is it like to have that team of supporters on board with what you’re doing?
When I was 16-years-old, I started booking myself in bands all across Connecticut. I did a ton of shows in the North East. But, I was also in charge of booking myself, doing my own social media, creating a website, and all of these things. As an Independent artist, every penny counts. So, moving to Nashville, I definitely felt like I was my own booking agent and graphic designer, and social media specialist. So, it’s so refreshing to have a circle of people that believe in me. I would never be able to achieve what I’m achieving without their help and faith in me.
Aside from new music, is there anything else you’re working on that you can share with us?
I just got my grandfather’s piano from Connecticut. They shipped it here. My grandparents sold their first home. The piano was the first instrument they bought for that home, and my grandfather used to play it. He taught me piano when I was seven. My mom learned it, and so did I. So I just got it last week. I have not played piano in a while. So, my new project right now is testing my skills in all of the favorites that he taught me and trying to grow my artistry on the piano. I could see myself doing a performance on the piano in the future. I would love to do that for sure!
What’s next for you?
On Friday (Feb. 11), we’re doing a single release party at Ole Red Nashville on Broadway at 6:00 p.m. Then, on Tuesday (Feb. 22) at 3:30 p.m., we’re also doing one in Orlando, Florida, at Ole Red in honor of the single.