Kelsey Waldon says that while her style of country offers a more traditional slant, she can certainly identify with many of the lyrics on the radio these days. She just chooses to go a different route.
“I definitely know about those things,” she admits. “I grew up on a dirt road, and can remember when it was paved, actually. I don’t feel I have to say it a million times, I write about what I know and what inspires me – which is usually the stories of people I grew up with, and also the people I know now. My music has been inspired by the many honky-tonks and bars, which I actually work in one. I think the best stories are the ones that people don’t want to tell. I don’t want to hold back in the lyrics.”
The singer-songwriter, who releases her debut album “The Goldmine” in June, claims many of the greats as her influences. “I guess one of my biggest would be Townes Van Zandt,” she said, also allowing that “I’ve always loved bluegrass like John Hartford, and so many of the female singers like Loretta and Tammy. There was a scary point in my life where all I listened to were songs like ‘D-I-V-O-R-C-E’ by Tammy Wynette. That was a big influence on ‘Goldmine,’ with the pedal steel kick-off. I wanted it to be as sad as it can be,” she says with a laugh.
Though her music does lend itself to the days of those artists, you would be wrong to label her a throwback artist. “I don’t get mad if people call me that. But, I’m not trying to live in that era. I’m very inspired by it, but the songs are about things that are happening in my life now. I don’t know why people who are still doing traditional country music have to be considered ‘throwback.’ We’re doing country music now. I don’t want to be pinned as a throwback artist, I would rather be considered an all-around artist living and recording in 2014.”
Waldon admits that she’s not trying to copy anyone. “I salute all my heroes, but I’m not them. I can’t ever live up to what they were in that era. I just want people to see the beauty and soul I feel in country music.”
The Western Kentucky native says that music has been in her system since she can remember. “I have played music since I was very little. It kind of skipped a generation because my parents don’t play, but my granny wrote songs, and my great-grandmother’s dad was an upright bass player. It runs in the family.
“I wrote my first songs when I was seven or eight years old, and I just kept doing it. I started making my first mix tapes when I was about twelve years old. I passed them out to everyone in school. I would never want anyone to hear those now, but they still have them.” Music was so important to her that she gave up her senior trip to use her graduation money to record an EP following graduation.
The next month will certainly be a busy one for Waldon – with a May 28 appearance at Nashville’s Music City Roots, and her CD release party at The Basement on June 23, but she’s glad to get the music out to the people. “I’m very proud of it. This is the most vulnerable I’ve been. I feel like I’m getting a hold on myself as an artist.”