A decade in Nashville, Lainey Wilson is just getting started | ap entertainment

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) – Last year saw Lainey Wilson shine after more than a decade trying to open her doors as a country singer-songwriter.

But even as she won awards and topped the Billboard Country Airplay chart, her family foundation was shaken this summer by her father Brian’s hospitalization.

“It’s really interesting trying to navigate life when your professional side is going really great, but your personal side feels like it’s falling apart,” Wilson told The Associated Press. “And when my dad got sick last summer, I’m not going to lie: It was hard being on stage and pouring my heart out.”

Wilson is happy to say that her father – after two months in hospital and weeks in rehab – will be by her side as she heads to the Country Music Association Awards on Wednesday as the Leading Contestant.

“It was definitely a test,” said Wilson, who had to cancel a couple of shows but then resumed both her touring and her acting role on the new season of Yellowstone. “It was a test for me to roll up my sleeves and get the job done no matter what, no matter how I feel.”

Wilson grew up on a farm in rural Baskin, Louisiana, where her family taught her life lessons about hard work and good people skills, along with plenty of Southern sayings. And that working-class wit and wisdom is woven throughout her new album Bell Bottom Country, a rollicking country-rock album that embraces Wilson’s unique “country with a flare” attitude.

“I feel like everyone has a little bell bottom country about them,” she said. “It’s just leaning into what makes you who you are – different and unique and uncompromisingly yourself.”

Earlier this year, she was named Song of the Year and Best New Artist at the Academy of Country Music Awards. That made her a likely nominee at the CMA Awards, but her debut with six nominations puts her in a rare class of only four artists in CMA history to do the same, and all other artists (Glen Campbell, Brad Paisley, and Kacey Musgraves) went on to great careers that changed the genre. Her nominations include Artist of the Year, New Artist of the Year, Album of the Year for Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin, Song of the Year for “Things a Man Oughta Know,” and a Music Event and Music Video for ” Never Say Never” with Cole Swindell.

Wilson certainly isn’t an overnight success, having spent her early years in Nashville in a trailer, trying to break into the songwriting community. One of her earliest artistic co-writers was with a young North Carolina writer named Luke Combs, now a superstar, who invited Wilson to open his stadium tour next year.

“Time was a big part of my story, and I think that’s why I had to wait a really long time,” Wilson said. “I mean, it took me seven years to even get a publishing deal, eight years to get a record acting,” she said.

A lot of things came at just the right time for Wilson’s name to spread not only in country music but also on television. Her songs were featured on previous seasons of the Paramount Network show Yellowstone, along with a soundtrack that featured songs by Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell. That prompted showrunner Taylor Sheridan to offer her a role as a country singer in the new season, beginning Sunday.

Wilson said acting isn’t all that different from working as a singer on stage, learning lines that other people would have written and said it helped that the role was so similar to herself. And she didn’t even have to change her recognizable northern Louisiana accent.

Wilson said no one in the music industry told her to smooth out her drawn out tones and her all, but she said many people on social media ask if her accent was overdone. She has fighting words for those critics: “The way I talk is the way I sing.

In addition to her nominations, Wilson will take the CMA stage for a performance of “Wait in the Truck,” a chart-topping duet with HARDY. The song is a murder ballad about domestic violence that reminds Wilson of the ’90s Garth Brooks classic The Thunder Rolls.

“I want the people who have been abused to hear the song,” Wilson said. “I want them to feel like they’re not alone. But I want the perpetrators to hear it. I want them to be haunted.”


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