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How do you usually write the lyrics of your songs?

All of my songs are rooted in real experiences and feelings I’ve gone through personally or experienced through a friend or somebody close to me.  The lyrics, or at least a concept of what I want to write about usually hit me at first, and they just flow through me.  It’s like channeling an energy and once you figure out the way that works for you, it becomes automatic.  Since my songs are about real-life situations, I usually write the most when I’m going through something.  The bigger picture will come to me lyrically — usually the chorus — and then I just work my way out to the verses and a bridge to explain it from there.

In your opinion, what is the most important thing in songwriting?

Relating to the audience.  Telling a story so that they feel it too.  I think the most important thing about songwriting is being authentic and truthful to make sure that connection with the audience is as real as it gets.


Are you ever scared of revealing aspects of your personal life/experience to strangers through your music?

The idea of it used to make me super nervous.  I might as well be reading my diary out loud, bearing my soul for all to judge…because that’s exactly what I’m doing.  I feel like I’ve evolved so much, not only as a musician, but as a person, just within these last couple years that I’m okay with showing people that vulnerable part of me, mostly because I’ve learned first-hand that vulnerability is NOT a weakness, and you never know who you’re helping or inspiring by sharing your story.  At this point of my career, it isn’t just about myself, so I feel like it’s wrong to stay silent when given a gift like storytelling through song.


What is the best lyric that you ever wrote (the most meaningful for you)?

Right now, the lyrics of “Thank God It Didn’t Work” really resonate with me.  Specifically, “No use in looking back on what might’ve been. Lord knows I ain’t never going back again.  Some things you forgive that you just can’t forget.  I’ve been through hell but I’ve come to find I’ve always had an angel by my side, but that don’t mean it didn’t hurt…but thank God it didn’t work.”  That chorus, to me, really says everything.

What inspired “Thank God it didn’t work” – your upcoming album “Halfhearted”?

I was on my way to meet with two of my Nashville friends for a co-write — my first co-write — and I had ample time on the drive to think of what I’d write about.  This idea of “hindsight is 20/20” kept hitting me, and I reminisced on a lot of things in my life that didn’t work out, that broke my heart, but they were unanswered prayers that led me to something even better.  Had I known what was just around the corner in my life, I wouldn’t have been so devastated…but I’m so glad those things never worked out, because the bigger picture was just waiting for me.

And “High”?

“High” is about an abusive relationship I endured for about 2 years.  He just loved being miserable, and as we all know, misery loves company.  One day, ironically in his apartment in Los Angeles, he had left me on my own for a few days.  I went hiking and saw a rattlesnake and thought, “Must be an omen.”  That was the day I finally started opening my eyes to how miserable I was.  Then I went back to his place, sat at the dinner table, and wrote “High,” one of my most sarcastic songs!

Do you remember the day you wrote “California Dream”?

I do, actually.  It’s about the same person “High” and several of the tracks on Halfhearted are about…I could seriously write about that guy for the rest of my career and never run out of songs!  We weren’t “together” but we weren’t “broken up,” so I guess you could say I was a little bit confused.  I didn’t know what to think, because I was getting pretty close to rock bottom.  I was sad, because I had no answers and he wouldn’t give them to me.  I wrote “California Dream” after imagining what it would be like if I broke things off with him and saw him years and years in the future — long enough to let go and forgive and move on, to not be angry.  There would always be that soft spot that still cared for him and remembered what we had, but he ultimately was not my “California Dream.”

What was the best moment of your career?  And the most difficult one?

So far, the best moment I’d say is still just around the corner.  I’ve had a lot of highs and a lot of lows, but I have a feeling that the release of Halfhearted is going to be the best yet!  It’s just something you feel in your gut…and I’m definitely feeling it!  The most difficult moment of my career, without a doubt, was getting it together to continue on after American Idol wrapped.  You either hit the ground running…or people forget you.  So, I had to make a game plan, and there were no more producers, no more catering, guitar techs to fix your instrument and change strings, no more coordinators and wardrobe, etc.  (as spoiled as that sounds, all of those things add up and take a lot of time and money!  It’s easy to take for granted when you’re caught up in a whirlwind and be totally lost when the whirlwind finally dies down and all of those things have moved on without you!)  Readjusting back to “the real world” after being in “reality” television for about a year is tricky business!

What are your plans for 2018?

My biggest plan for 2018 is Halfhearted.  The album drops on 8/3 and I’m currently doing radio tour, as well as playing several larger festival shows across the US.  I want to promote Halfhearted as much as possible and get radio play.  That’s my goal this year.  Radio!


To conclude the interview a short Q/A session, please answer the first thing that comes to your mind:

  • Define in one word your album “Halfhearted”: Overcoming.
  • The best show you ever played: Oh man, what a hard question to answer!  I love traveling — that’s one of the biggest perks to my job, in my opinion — and meeting new fans and fans I’ve met via social media in-person.  I also love different places for different things.  However, off the top of my head, I’d have to say home state shows in Alabama are probably my favorite just because it’s where I’m from, where my roots are, and where my largest support base is ever since pre-American Idol days.
  • The one thing that you must have in your backstage: Tea and honey!!!!
  • The soundtrack of your childhood: Probably the “NOW That’s What I Call Music!” compilations 1 through about 20 hahaha!
  • Your favorite song lyrically speaking, but not written by you: “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.  “All that you need is in your soul.”
  • Last question is “unusual”, we want to know your best relationship advice: Now, I wouldn’t say I’m the best person to take relationship advice from…but since you asked… Be happy with yourself first.  Love yourself first.  Because you can’t be happy or love another person until you have YOU figured out.  So many people, I think, don’t take the time to get to know themselves and be happy with who they are at first, and then they go out and seek love and happiness in another person and in 9 times out of 10 it falls apart.  It all starts with you.  If you can’t be happy being alone, how can you be happy with somebody else?
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