British Country Music is really starting to make a name for itself and not just amongst fans of country music but amongst people in general. Having artists who are already known for other roles within the entertainment idustry brings fans to the genre whom may never have even entertained the thought of embracing the genre. Megan McKenna is one of those who has brought an entirely new audience to country music. Her passion for it and her talent for it have opened eyes and from that people have discovered the likes of The Adelaides whom supported Megan on her debut tour and artists such as Lauren Alaina who co wrote the song Odds on Megan’s debut album Story of Me.
Megan’s debut album has received critical acclaim and she has more than proven her worth as not just a singer but as a songwriter who can really dig deep in her words. Her voice, naturally suited to country has a stunning tone and is really enjoyable to listen to.
Megan heads back out on tour for a special acoustic show across the end of May/early June. A natural to the stage, Megan will undoubtedly entertain and if her performance at Cornbury and BST Hyde Park are anything to go by, then I highly recommend getting a ticket.
We caught up with Megan recently to discuss her tour, her album and her playing Dixiefields festival in her hometown of Essex. We also discussed her country favourites and more.
Stream Story of Me here
Purchase Story of Me here
Hi Megan – How are you?
I am good thanks.
How was the Aladdin premiere? (Megan attended the London premiere of Disney’s live action adaptation of Aladdin)
It was magical, I definitely felt like a Disney princess.
Did you see the film? Any good?
Yeh! It was amazing, the casting was spot on and the new Jasmine is beautiful!
How has life been since releasing your debut album – Story of Me?
I’ve definitely noticed that more people know me for my music now and it’s so good for people to finally hear what I’ve been working on for the past two years.
How have the reactions been?
In the past I’ve got a mixed reviews with TV shows but with my music it’s all positive and that makes me really happy.
How have you found the reception in country music fans? Did you ever have concerns people taking you seriously at first and if so, now they have heard it, does it feel good to now show to any doubters that you are actually pretty damn good at this?
I did think a few people would try and knock me down but I knew all I had to do was sing live and to show people I’m not just a singer I’m also a songwriter. This is something I’ve been doing for a long time and feel very passionate about.
It was on one of our top albums of last year, I really loved it! Were you nervous at all putting it out?
Ah thank you so much. I was a little bit nervous because it’s very personal to me. I wrote about a lot of ups and downs through my life and as it was such a passion project so of course I wanted it to get a good reception because it means so much to me.
One of my favourite songs is “If You” – you wrote that with Amy Wadge. Do you remember much about the writing session and how long it took to write the song?
That was one of two songs I wrote that weekend with Amy. I also wrote Story of Me and I think both the songs are on subjects that most girls can relate to.
What does Amy bring to a co-write that makes you work so well together?
She makes me feel so at ease like I’m just talking to a friend but writing everything down on paper and coming out with a song at the end of it!
What have you learned from her?
Amy’s given me a lot of confidence in my songwriting. She taught me to say what I think and don’t hold back and even if something doesn’t fit in that part of the song it might fit in another one.
You have been back and forth to Nashville writing more music- how have you grown as a songwriter since your first trip?
The first time I was in Nashville I hadn’t done much songwriting yet so the experience was quite daunting especially as there were cameras filming me at the time! This time I went back to Nashville not just as a singer but as a confident songwriter and that gave me the chance to work with other artists and songwriters and to not be intimidated by them.
Have you faced any challenges Songwriting? I hear the Nashville writers have the ability to make people feel at ease and pour out whatever they are feeling in that moment?
Yeh I love their way of writing it’s very laid back it’s more like a jamming session where you just talk and see what naturally happens. Like with Beth Nielsen Chapman she just gets out her guitar and we start experimenting with different melodies
Is there a track you are most proud of?
Probably the title track ‘Story Of Me’ I just think it’s such a beautiful song and it recounts stages of my life that were tough but that now I’m grateful for because I’ve come out with this song.
What song off the album is your mums favourite?
Let me just call her and ask her… (calls mum)
‘Paperboy’ she says she likes the way I sing it, the lyrics and it’s catchy
Were there any songs that didn’t make the album but almost did and if so, will we ever get to hear them?
There were a few but I could only have 10 songs as it’s the perfect amount but I’ve got a few up my sleeve. I just wrote a new one with Beth Neilson Chapman and there will definitely be a snippet of that one on my tour.
Odds is co written by Lauren Alaina who we are big fans of in the UK, how could we not be hey? How did recording Odds come to be?
I got sent the track and fell in love with it straight away, it was such a cool upbeat country tune and I felt I could put my twist on it perfectly. Since releasing it Lauren and I have been DM’ing on Instagram she’s been really supportive, I hope to work more with her in the future and look forward to meeting her at the Dixie Fields Festival and definitely want to catch her set.
It must be a dream come true to have a country music fest so close to home? (Dixiefields)
I feel like we’ve come so far because in one of my early auditions I was told “Essex girls can’t sing country music, nobody will take you seriously” and now look Essex has its own country music festival!
You are about to head out on a solo acoustic tour and we will be at Birmingham and cannot wait. Can we expect most songs off the album and a couple of covers?
Yes I’ll be doing most songs off of the album and I’m in a Kacey vibe at the moment so will hopefully be covering one hers.
Who will be joining you on this tour? Guitar and support?
I will have a guitarist and a pianist accompanying me.
What is your dream venue to play?
I’ve definitely ticked one of them off of my bucket list by playing at the Bluebird cafe in Nashville and the next one would be 02 arena in London.
I hear a rumour that Billy Ray Cyrus may be here to tour soon, if that is true, will you go?
Omg no way yes of course I would and hope he brings Miley out too!
We saw you attend Kacey Musgraves show in Wembley. As a fan, how has it felt to see her career progress so far and as a female singer/songwriter yourself, to see women kicking ass in not just country music but across all genres since Kacey won a Grammy for album of the year.
I’ve been listening to Kacey for years before she was well known and I’m so happy she’s finally being recognised for the amazing artist that she is, I really look up to her not just her voice but her style and her attitude towards life.
You were also spotted at Dan + Shay concert. What other artists have you seen or would like to see live in country music?
I’d love to see Carrie Underwood and Rascall Flatts live
If you were to cover any Dan + Shay song, what would it be?
One track that stood out to me was Headline. With so much media attention the song must really relate to you? Although I know the song may have a different meaning , you can take the song quite literally.
Yeh it’s really hard to have a private life and so yes a song about being the press headline is very relevant to my life.
What are you working on next?
I’m currently in rehearsals for my tour and when I was in Nashville I wrote a song with Kaleb Lee (The Voice US) which we want to release as a duet later in the year
You can catch Megan on tour from May 31st. Tickets available here.
Tickets and info on Dixiefields Fest here