Lauren Jenkins, 2014

Lauren Jenkins photographed in 2014 by Allie Stoller.

 Allie Stoller

Wednesday is a big day for country newcomer Lauren Jenkins, who's being signed to Big Machine Label Group, Billboard is revealing exclusively in addition to premiering her countrified twist on Motley Crue's "Looks That Kill" from the cover album Nashville Outlaws: A Tribute To Motley Crue (due out Aug. 19). 

Listen to the exclusive track below:

“It’s weird to see my name on iTunes -- weird, but amazing,” Jenkins tells Billboard. “Seeing my name with all the other artists doesn’t seem real,” she says of the album’s track list, which includes Florida Georgia Line, Rascal Flatts, Gretchen Wilson and other country stars. 

“When [Big Machine CEO] Scott Borchetta has an idea, it’s probably in your best interest to hear him and out and follow it. But when he asked me to be a part of the Motley Crue record, I thought he was out of his mind. Taking on something like that, you are obviously taking a risk. People will either love it or they will hate it. I really like the track we came up with, and the arrangement. We tried to keep some of the original feel and structure, but we definitely did it totally different.”

Music has been a part of the Texas native's life since she can remember. “The first concert my dad ever took me to, I was six years old,” she recalls. “I grew up going to every show that he would take me to. A lot of my musical influences came from him -- acts like Tom Petty and the Allman Brothers. Then I started listening to rap music, hip-hop and jazz, a little bit of everything. I think that shaped the different sound I’ve got going on.”

As she entered into her teenage years, she knew singing was in her future. “When I was fifteen, I started homeschooling, so I could travel and pursue music. I got accepted into The William Esper Studio [for acting] a couple of years ago, and decided to just go for it. It was a lot of work, but it turned out well," she says. "I’m glad I found Big Machine Label Group and got out of New York before I went completely broke.”

In 2013, her team decided it was time to make the push for a label. “My producer Trey Bruce had emailed me, and said he was thinking about getting out some of our demos to the labels around town. I told him to go for it,” she says. “I think Scott Borchetta called him back within a few hours, and the next day I was booking a flight to Nashville.”

Signing on the dotted line with Big Machine Label Group was a dream come true and a definite game-changer. “It was so overwhelming. I am so blessed. It changes things once you are signed because before that, I was just doing what I wanted to do, and didn’t really have anyone to answer to, but I was really doing it all on my own. So, to have their support is great," she says. "The whole label is a family, and they really support you. I haven’t really told many of my friends yet. It was a secret -- until now, I guess.”

Jenkins is already at work on her debut album for the label, with half of the album already cut. While that disc isn’t expected until next year, Jenkins is excited about what the future holds. “It’s crazy, and has been so fun. It’s a lot of hard work, but I’ve been doing this since I was fifteen, so that’s nothing new to me," says Jenkins. "This is what I’ve dreamed of all my life.”

 

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