Chartbreaker: Bailey Bryan on Taylor Swift's Influence and How Spinal Surgery Inspired Her Breakout Single

BB13 2017 - DO NOT USE
Robby Klein
Bailey Bryan photographed on May 18, 2017 at The Cordelle in Nashville.

The country newcomer’s debut EP, So Far, may herald a Maren Morris-esque breakthrough this summer.

A waist-to-shoulder scar inspired her first chart hit.

The 19-year-old Sequim, Wash., native, who suffered from scoliosis, wrote self-accepting songs like “Scars” and “Own It” during a monthslong recovery from spinal surgery a few years ago. The latter cracked the Country Airplay chart in April, the month her So Far EP came out. “I learned the things we think are ugly are the most beautiful things about us,” says Bryan.

Taylor Swift schooled her in romance.

Bryan, who wasn’t allowed to date before turning 16, says the love songs she wrote as a young teen drew from Swift’s sweeping lyricism. “I would write something dramatic, then play it for my parents,” she recalls. “They would be like, ‘Do you have something you want to tell us?’ ”

She got her start busking in front of a taco stand.

Before landing a deal with 300 and Warner Music Nashville in 2016, Bryan cut her teeth playing in front of local eatery Jose’s Famous Salsa in her hometown. “They would give me free tacos,” she says. “There was an ulterior motive.”

She’s crazy about rap.

As she plots her debut album, the songwriter has been bingeing on hip-hop to study the narratives: “When I listen to J. Cole, Chance the Rapper and Jay Z, I’m listening for that story the same way I listen to country.”

Watch Bailey Bryan demonstrate her go-to photo pose, sing a song she wrote as a four year old and talk about her teenage crush. 

This article originally appeared in the June 3 issue of Billboard.