We adore Lauren Alaina in the UK. It’s not just her fantastic music and her outstanding vocals but also her infectious personality that has us completely hooked. When she first graced a UK stage back in 2016 at C2C Festival, new fans and old have been eager for her return. Lauren returned to the UK this summer to play some headline shows as well as headlining the first ever Dixie Fields Festival in Essex. Her last stop of the tour was headlining the free festival Nashville Meets London. We caught up with Lauren there for a quick chat.
Having met Lauren a few times we greeted each other and discussed the first time I saw her at CMA Festival 2014. I talked about seeing her at one of the events during the CMA Fest Week which is the City Of Hope Celebrity Softball Challenge. Lauren agreed that one of her favourite events of CMA Fest was taking part in the Celebrity Softball Challenge. Having done it for six years she explains she was disappointed they didn’t do it this year. With us Brits not being used to the Nashville weather which during CMA Festival gets incredibly hot, I asked her does that make playing in the Softball Challenge harder or was she used to it?
“I grew up in Georgia and it is hotter there than it is in Nashville so I am pretty used to it.” With the week Lauren visited us being one of the hottest weeks of the year I told her how she must have brought the good weather with her? “Everyone kind of cracks me up because they are all saying it is so hot here (UK) but it’s not haha, I mean it’s warm, it’s not cold outside but it is definitely not hot” I explained how we are English and we always complain about the weather. She laughed and said “You complain when it’s hot but y’all don’t like to put on any air conditioning I’ll tell you that, these things don’t add up haha”
Weather aside, I was eager to ask how the tour had been so far? Since Lauren’s debut trip here during C2C Festival in 2016 she had finally returned to play a string of headline shows including the first ever Dixiefields Festival in Essex. “It has been crazy, it’s really good. We sold out a few of the shows and the fans have been so amazing, like they know all of the songs. The other night when we were in Bristol, these two young girls came and sang with me on stage which was really sweet. They had their little British accents which made me love them even more. It has been amazing. A lot of great memories”.
Asking her how it compares to her first trip, where she may well have been unaware of just how big her fanbase was she says “I remember at C2C being very surprised at how many people knew the music. I don’t think I knew how widespread it was. This time I have got to go to all these small towns to see how the music has spread, how many people the music has reached. Dixiefields was our first show this time and it was the first time I realised how many people were going to sing along to Ladies In The Nineties, they were singing it so loud. That day was also the first time I ever heard a child with a British accent in person. It was fascinating, I talked to these kids for hours just to hear their accent”.
Still talking of Ladies in the Nineties, Lauren explains she heard it on the radio for the first time over here in Edinburgh. “We were visiting the castle and we went to see the highland cattle and we popped into a souvenir shop and my song was on the radio in the shop”
Amazed, I asked if they knew she was there? “No, they had no idea, I was buying a kilt”. I asked if she said something to the store staff? “ I didn’t, I tried to get a video and I missed it”.
Lauren first came into most of our lives upon auditioning for American Idol. I was keen to find out what else she did before Idol to break into the industry “It (Idol) was my first audition for that show. I had been travelling to Nashville for three or four years writing with songwriters. I was playing gigs in my hometown too. I had been playing shows probably for five or six years by then. I was very young but I started very young.”
As she was playing music at such a young age and traveling back and forth to Nashville, I was curious to know about what impact that had on the social side of her school life, were fellow students supportive? Jealous? Nonchalant? “Quite a bit of a mix I would say. I was fifteen at the original audition and sixteen by the end of the show. A lot of people were really supportive and a lot of people weren’t. My good friends are still my good friends, I have a handful of people who are still my friends from high school”.
Asking if she ever performed at school, she says “I did yes, I was in talent shows, choir, I sang everywhere I could sing”.
As Lauren has said she was fifteen when she was on Idol, I brought up her song Three from her album Road Less Traveled which focuses on how much she was away from home just to have a song on the radio and so on. With all that pressure and work must bring anxieties and emotions, I asked how she stays grounded? “I try to facetime my family as much as possible. I have a really good family who I think would never let me be anything but humble. I keep good people around me and just try to make sure that off days are off days and stuff like that”.
Lauren is quite the established songwriter and writes many of her own songs and even writes for other artists (more on that later) I am always interested in what artists first ever song that they wrote was, even if embarrassing or silly. “yeah my little cousin was born and I re-wrote another song. I changed the lyrics and used the melody. I don’t do that anymore haha. But when I was younger I did. It was the song (she sings) “Good Morning beautiful, how is your night?” It was Diamond Rio and I wrote it for my little cousin being born, I wrote the words for her.”
As mentioned above, Lauren on occasion writes songs that other artists cut. One recently being our homegrown country artist Megan McKenna who cut the brilliant track Odds on her Story of Me album which was written by Lauren Alaina, April Geesbreght and Eric Olson. I asked why she never cut that song herself? Immediately Lauren beamed with the mention of the song and seemed quite surprised by it and looked at her manager with a huge smile. “Oh yeah, oh my gosh. I wrote the song in between albums. I hadn’t really gone in and cut that much for this album and I think I wrote that song in between. Typically when I’m writing if I am not actively in the studio writing, unless it is something I am absolutely obsessed with and know 100 per cent that I want it on the album then I let other people cut it. That’s really cool. I recently posted about it, I heard her version of it, it’s very exciting”.
Asking if she had any other songs she gave to artists she tells me something I felt I really should have known already and that was that she wrote the song Lost In The Middle of Nowhere on Kane Brown’s new album. He cut the song with a latin artist named Becky G. Again, I say I should have known about the Kane Brown song but sometimes things just pass you, but I should have known as they went to school together and I was going to ask about that. “Yeah we grew up together” Lauren smiles.
You hear stories of artists going to school together but did their paths really cross? Were they friends? “yeah we were. We grew up in a really small town. We have known each other a long time, he used to date my best friend. We have known each other a long time” saying how nice that must be to share this journey together she replies “yeah it is nice”. I said how it’s more of a true story journey together as most people associate her with sharing the journey with fellow Idol contestant and Idol winner Scotty McCreery. “The Scotty thing was just Idol time exactly, Kane is where I came from, it’s way cooler”.
Lauren’s album Road Less Traveled is somewhat of a personal diary. Many have related to it, many have healed from it and asking her if she ever anticipated that sort of impact she says “ I wrote the title song over four of five years. It was such a transitional time for me and as you said, really I wrote all those songs for me because I was trying to process whatI was going through. The last song that I wrote for the album was Three and I think I finally had an idea of what I wanted to say on the album. I was able to go in and be super intentional with that song but the rest of them I feel kind of happened by accident, I just wrote them as I felt them. The best ones rose to the top”. Then I mentioned she did the movie “I did the movie yes. It was busy. We shot the whole movie in like 15 days which was ridiculous. I enjoyed it and would do it again”. I asked if she has something in the pipeline to which she said yes. Probably not Road Less Traveled 2 I asked jokingly. Laughing she replied “probably not Road Less Traveled 2 haha”
Finishing on news of new album Lauren says “we were in the studio before we came here and will be back in as soon as we get home. New music will be out this year and album maybe early next year. I always get nervous saying that because if it ends up being Summer, you will all be like, where’s the album? Haha”
Of course I speak for everyone when I say we cannot wait for a new album and new music in general. Lauren has also recently been announced as part of the US hit show Dancing With The Stars which may make me watch it for the first time. I can’t imagine a better contestant and she will know doubt dazzle with her personality as well as her dancing skills.
Let’s hope Lauren doesn’t leave it too long before she visits us again.