31 Days of Women: Lainey Wilson

Credit: Alex Berger

Editor’s Note: In celebration of Women’s History Month, You Sing I Write is highlighting female country artists and songwriters throughout March.

Lainey Wilson has fast become one of Nashville’s most buzzed about newcomers thanks to a fiery live show and her prolific songwriting. On her Jay Joyce-produced Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’, the Louisiana native’s debut released in February on BBR Music Group’s flagship imprint Broken Bow Records, Wilson boldly introduces herself as a country artist unafraid to speak her truth while empowering listeners to do the same through her vulnerability.

A self-described old soul, Wilson has always been ahead of her time. At the age of nine she began writing songs about tequila and cigarettes. A family trip to Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry that same year solidified her decision to one day move from her home of 300 people in Baskin, Louisiana, to Music City.

“I remember exactly where I was on the interstate in the backseat,” she says nostalgically in a warm Louisiana drawl. “I was staring at the Batman building and little Lainey at nine years old said, ‘This is home.’ I’ve always known it and I don’t know if it’s because I spoke it out loud and it manifested itself, but I’ve always known that I’d be here.”

I had the pleasure of shadowing Wilson last year as she made her Grand Ole Opry debut. Below is an excerpt of my article and our conversation.

When was the moment you knew you wanted to be an artist?

I had written my first song not long before we had made our trip to Nashville. I feel like music just grabbed a hold of me and it did not let go. At 11 years old, I started playing guitar. It was just one of those things that I had to do. It was not really a choice to make. There’s never been a plan B, and it’s the only thing I know how to do.

What’s the story behind “Dirty Looks”?

When I think about how I was raised and my core values and things like that, the word that comes to my mind is “hard work.” My daddy’s a farmer. My mama’s a teacher. They bust their tail all year round not for themselves, but for future generations. They’ve instilled those values in me, and “Dirty Looks” tells a story about a hardworking man and a blue-collar couple who can’t keep their hands off of each other and don’t really care who’s watching them. I think there are a lot of people around America and all of the world that can relate to that story.

What’s the most autobiographical song on your EP Redneck Hollywood?

“LA” would probably be the most autobiographical song that I have on the record. I think it shows my personality; I’m a little bit crazy and it shows how redneck I am. I mean, I’m sure you can tell from the way that I speak, but it’s not just the way that I speak, it’s the way that I live, too.

The story behind that song is when I first moved to town with my camper trailer, everywhere I’d go I’d open my mouth to speak and I’d say, “Well, I’m from LA.” And they’re like, “There ain’t no way you’re from LA.” They thought Los Angeles, and I was just talking about home. That song tells my story and tells a little snippet about who I am.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given about your career?

Be kind and work hard because those two things are truly the most important. If you’re nice to people, they will remember that, and nobody can stop you from working hard. That doesn’t mean that if you work hard and be kind that you’re going to be a superstar; it just means that you are going to find your place — you’re gonna find your place in the industry or wherever you’re supposed to be.

For more of my interview with Lainey Wilson, visit Billboard. Her debut album, Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’, is out now. Her latest single, “Things A Man Oughta Know,” is below.