Tiera Kennedy found a unique angle for her first radio single: She ran it through a Cameron lens.
Kennedy co-wrote “Found It in You” with songwriter-producer Cameron Bedell, who is currently enjoying a run as co-writer of Jimmie Allen’s “Down Home.” But “Found It” also relies heavily on another Cameron, Kamren Kennedy, whom she married last Oct. 2. The couple became an item in 2014 when she posted a photo on social media of a camera that she wanted to buy. Kamren sent a direct message offering to train her in photography, and he became both her creative director and her man.
He was also the subject when she wrote with Bedell for the first time at Liz Rose Music on Jan. 28, 2019. “I started talking about my husband — he was just my boyfriend at the time,” she recalls. “But I started talking about all the things I love about him. We just started listing them and put it into a song.”
The theme might have been rooted in her personal life, but the song’s name resided in Bedell’s cell phone. “I had this title sitting in my Notes — ‘Found It in You,’ ” he remembers. “I was wanting to write this song where it’s like, you know, ‘Everything I’ve been looking for, it’s over – the search is over. I found it.’ She’s immediately like, ‘Oh, my God, I love that. We have to do that.’ So it just happened very naturally.”
Bedell formed a progression made primarily of major chords, creating a cheery backdrop for her optimistic message and intended blend of genres.
“She grew up on country music predominantly — you know, she loves Dolly [Parton],” Bedell says. “But innately, she has a pretty strong R&B sense to her music and to her vocals. She’s a perfect blend of country and some of that old-school R&B. That’s exactly where I thrive.”
They started listing Tiera’s future husband’s positive traits on line one, highlighting his willingness to listen, his patience and his encouragement. And the first verse’s final line — the setup to the chorus — might be the most important one in the song, recognizing that “real good love’s just hard to find.”
The chorus then shifted into another gear with two ascending groups of three notes — “I-I-I, found it in …” — leading to “you,” the man she’s celebrating. The chorus portrays him as the puzzle piece that completes her: a source of confidence, happiness and security.
Remarkably, very little of “Found It in You” focuses on the physical. There’s no real reference to sex, no description of their visual being — other than an appreciation that he loves her whether she’s “all dressed up or lettin’ all my hair down.”
“He’s my best friend at the end of the day, and so it’s really not just about the physical things for the both of us,” Kennedy says. “I mean, we genuinely love being together and I feel like we bring out the best in each other. I really just wanted to show that in the song.”
But avoiding tactile intimacy also allows “Found It in You” to serve a more universal purpose. “I am obviously talking about a significant other, but my hope with this song was that people could listen to it, and it could be about a friend or anyone in their life,” she says. “I feel like everybody has that person in their life that kind of changed their world. And so I hope that people think about that when they listen to it.”
The song took another step when they recorded the beginnings of a demo at the end of their writing appointment. The chorus ran nine lines, repeating the title three times, but during one of the takes, she extended it further, singing “I found it in you” three more times at the stanza’s end.
“Working on getting her to be a little bit freer with her vocals, I was like, ‘You’re so good that the last thing I want you to do is be uptight. Like, I know this is the first time we’ve met, but you’ve got it, girl, and you’re so good. So just do your thing. Even if it’s too much,’ ” Bedell recalls. “So after she sang that first chorus, she just started doing that. That was a kind of mistake that turned into a nice little chunk of gold.”
After the coronavirus hit in 2020, they packaged “Found It in You” with several other songs for recording. Bedell shipped them off to other musicians, who added their parts around Kennedy’s vocals one at a time and returned the tracks digitally. She released that version independently in October 2020, and it helped build attention around her.
Valory announced Kennedy’s signing on Aug. 5, 2021, and the team decided to rerecord several of her songs, including “Found It in You,” with producer Dann Huff (Keith Urban, Kane Brown). They held a tracking session in September with a five-piece band — guitarists Ilya Toshinsky and Derek Wells, bassist Craig Young, drummer Aaron Sterling and keyboardist Charlie Judge — at Nashville’s Sound Stage. The sound quality itself was brighter, the group dynamic created more energy, and they switched the spiky rhythm guitar from acoustic on the demo to electric on the master, adding a touch more muscle. But the alterations were minor.
“The idea on something like that is to not throw the baby out with the proverbial bathwater,” Huff says. “When they get to that point in their discussions with a label, they love what [the artist is] doing. So to change it outright would be stupid. That’s not really the drill; it’s to elevate it.”
Paul Franklin layered steel guitar on top of it to enhance the country part of the balance, though he also paid a nod to Kennedy’s R&B roots with a background line in the second verse that — after Huff did some EQ work — sounded like a gangsta rap synth line from an early-’90s Dr. Dre production.
Kennedy redid her vocals at Huff’s home studio and worked on background vocals with Bedell, though Melissa Fuller layered in an additional voice later. Huff also overdubbed mandolin and some extra guitar parts, including a twin-guitar passage in the waning moments. He insisted that Bedell get first credit in their co-producing arrangement.
“He’s a multifaceted guy,” Huff says. “He and Tiera have a serious connection. That’s who she trusts. You tread lightly on those relationships.”
Valory released “Found It in You” to country radio via PlayMPE on July 18. And Kennedy hopes it brings a little optimism into the world, much as it represents the positivity she receives from her two Camerons: her producer/co-writer and her husband/creative director.
“I always think about who I wrote the song about, even when I perform it live,” she says. “I want people to feel the happiness that I felt from that song.”