The Trainors have extra reason to be proud: Two years ago, they encouraged their then-18-year-old daughter to pass up college in favor of a freshly inked publishing deal with Nashville's Big Yellow Dog Music. "They told me, 'You can learn more with this job than you can in a classroom -- go for it!'" Trainor says. "I decided to write songs and travel."
Trainor still seems a little shell-shocked, and who can blame her? It hasn't even been a full year since she moved from Los Angeles to Nashville last November to try writing songs for country artists (Rascal Flatts picked two of her songs for new album Rewind). Soon after, she paired up with writer-producer Kevin Kadish for the fateful session that produced "Bass."
Meghan Trainor Q&A: 'Loving Your Body … And Your Booty'
"I'd just gotten back from L.A. writing for pop stars, trying to pretend I was them," Trainor remembers. "The first thing Kevin said was, 'I don’t want to have any rules today. I just want to write a great song.'"
They liked their track, but didn't make much of its commercial prospects. "We told each other, 'We're never going to make a dime off this,'" recalls Trainor.
Three months later, Trainor found herself singing "All About That Bass" for Reid and the New York staff of Epic Records, which signed her a week later. Now, she has just released her debut EP, Title (which bows at No. 15 on the Sept. 27 Billboard 200), and is at the center of a body-positivity movement sweeping music, from Mary Lambert's "Secrets" to Colbie Caillat's makeup-free video for "Try." Trainor says "Bass" was inspired by her struggle to embrace her beauty. "I still look at pictures like, 'I don't like that,' and my mom has to tell me, 'Stop doing that to yourself.' Even my auntie will be like, 'You're adorable,'" Trainor says. "I was always a little insecure. I had brothers that played football, so I was just a straight-up tomboy for a minute. I didn't know makeup and hair stuff. My friends had to tell me what a straightener was. I didn't know fashion or any of that until the label gave me a stylist." (Indeed, Trainor was getting an Epic-sanctioned manicure during her interview.)
Listen to Meghan Trainor Mash Up 'All About That Bass' & 'Shake It Off'
Now, Trainor has become a model of self-acceptance for kids across the globe. "I got up at six this morning to reply to fan letters and Instagram posts," she says. "I don't consider myself a feminist, but I'm down for my first opportunity to say something to the world to be so meaningful. If you asked me, 'What do you want to say?' it would be, 'Love yourself more.'"
But other songs by Trainor are devoted to loving other people, through values as vintage as her doo-wop-indebted sound. The EP's title track is an ode to commitment before sex; on "Dear Future Husband," she lists requirements to a future beau, including "flowers every anniversary." "Girls need to be treated better. I never got that growing up," she says. "In high school, I didn't date awesome dudes."
Trainor is now single and looking -- though she isn't sure if the success of "Bass" will help or hurt her prospects. "Now I go to work and I don't know if I got time for a boyfriend. But do you have anyone I could date?"
This article first appeared in the Sept. 27th issue of Billboard.