Interview: Gabby Barrett talks album Goldmine, Stories behind the Tracks, C2C Festival that never was and More

2020 has been an incredible year for Gabby Barrett, all things considered. She released her debut album, Goldmine, which turned out to be a massive hit, garnering her two CMA nominations for New Artist of the Year and Single of the Year. In its first week of release, Goldmine garnered over 15 million on-demand streams, smashing the record for the largest streaming week ever for a debut album from a female country artist.

Gabby’s anthemic single I Hope went triple platinum in September, after hitting the Top 10 in the Billboard Hot 100, the first song from a female country artist to do so since Taylor Swift.

And to top it all off, Gabby and her husband Cade Foehner announced on Instagram in August that they are expecting their first child, a girl, early next year.

BOON got the chance to have a great chat with Gabby all about the new album and how much she’s looking forward to eventually making it over here to play.

Hi Gabby.

Hi, how are you?

I’m very good, how are you doing?

I am great, thank you.

Congratulations on the huge success of your debut album, Goldmine.

Thank you. Yes, it’s been absolutely insane, but in the best way.

Have to talk about I Hope, first of all, because when that song comes on in the car, I think I’m going to cause an accident. It’s just such a fist-pumping singalong. What sort stories do you hear from your fans about that song?

Oh gosh. Pretty much what you just said. I’ve heard that many a time, whether in the car, and you want to take a left turn. And so it’s pretty much the same thing. I love hearing that people kind of react to it. They hear the song and then they hear the title, and they’re like, “Oh, I Hope sounds like hopeful.” And then you have this music that draws you in, and the verse draws you in, and then you’re listening to the chorus, and she’s wishing him well, all of these nice things, and then it’s like, “Left turn!!!” Automatically. And I honestly think the formulation of the song is really what catches people a lot, as well as how relatable it is to a lot of people, so it’s been fun to see reactions.  

Both the single and the album reveal that you have this edge to you, this rock edge, which I think is what makes you a bit different. And your husband Cade’s amazing shredding guitar work contributes to that as well.

(laughs) Yes, rock was a large influence to me growing up. I was influenced by quite a few genres of music, and at least for me, I think a lot of people get influenced in what kind of music they like by what their parents play around them growing up. That’s what it was for me. My dad played the R&B and the ‘70s and ‘80s rock, and then my mom played more of the country, and so I was influenced by all of them in different ways. Actually I started out in gospel choirs, so that was my R&B, and then I really looked into rock because I’m a guitar girl, so I love big electric guitars, and just the energy in performing of those people in the rock world as well as country music. I love the storytelling and the sound of the music as well.

So, I was influenced by a lot, but rock was one of them, and my husband and I do music together, really. He’s a big influence on the musical part of my songs. He plays guitar on a lot of the songs, and like I said, I’m just a guitar gal, so we complement each other well when it comes to making music.

It’s going to be really exciting to watch that musical partnership develop.

Thank you. It’s definitely living the dream. I mean, that’s what you want to do, is be able to take your family on the road with you, and play music, and do the hobby that you love, and I’m very blessed to say that we get to do that now.

Can you talk a little about the process of writing and recording the album, because it’s actually taken quite a long time, hasn’t it?

Yes, I have been writing the past two years. So really, ever since I came off American Idol in 2018 I jumped into the Nashville community headfirst, and started to figure out how to write songs, and formulate them. Very blessed again to get in the room with some wonderfully talented, huge songwriters. Ross Copperman co-produced the album as well as wrote a few songs with me, who was a Grammy-nominated producer. There were just so many amazing people that really helped bring this album to life. I had a large hand in the creating of everything around the album. Writing 12, 13 songs, to the title, to the imagery, to the colour scheme set, to everything, which I’m fortunate to have been a part of it that largely. With this being my first album, now attention has been drawn from I Hope and the success of that. I wanted to make sure that the album would be something that I was very proud of to look back on. So that’s why there’s so much variety, and so much different storytelling, and just really honing in on who I am as a person with this album.

The one song you didn’t write is the stunning title track, Goldmine. Why did you want to include that song in particular?

So, in the beginning, right before I had started writing in Nashville, I was just starting to build a team, after American Idol had ended, in Nashville. They took me around town, and I had listened to a few songs that were cut by other people, like songs that were written, and they wanted to see if I wanted to cut them, because we were going to get demo songs just in case we found out that I was not great at writing, because nobody knew my writing ability. I didn’t even know myself until I really started to dive into it. And so I picked four or five demos to hold onto. Then I started doing writing sessions, and all the songs I was writing were beating out these other demos, and Goldmine was the only one that I really loved all over. Like the sound, the lyrics, everything about it I loved, and that’s the only one that I wanted to keep. That’s why I wrote 12 of the 13 songs, that was the only one that was left.

Your faith plays a big part in many of the songs on Goldmine. Is there one particular song on the record that you think embodies that?

Got Me was a large song on there that really talks about and is based on it the most out of everything. I think it’s just a straight-up Christian song. I was really excited to have Shane & Shane, who are Christian artists that I’ve been a fan of for years, be involved on the track. It was just a special song to me, and yes, a large part of who I am as a person. And so with this album being all about me, I definitely needed to include that in this.

I actually released the song a little earlier before the whole album came out, just because during such an uncertain time, people are looking for something to grab onto that’s foundational, because as humans, we don’t like to be not in control of things. But we have to understand that the Lord is in control always, and to always grab onto him.

That’s why I encourage through my music. Why I want to do music is I want to talk about that, and what’s really important. It was really exciting to be able to involve that song on this album, and I’m glad that I live in a generation right now where music isn’t so one-lane. Everything’s kind of blending together, which is really cool.

Another interesting lyric is Rose Needs a Jack, which is obviously about the Titanic movie.

Yes, that is a fun song for sure. You know, it’s funny, that’s the first song that I ever wrote in Nashville, Tennessee. Ever. I mean, I wrote that before I Hope. I Hope was like the fourth song I ever wrote, and Rose Needs a Jack was the first one. How that one kind of came to be was, I went into the writing session, it was a couple of us that wrote it. I knew I wanted to write a love song, and in country music, the main love theme is Johnny Cash and his wife June. And so I was like, “Well, there’s already so many songs about them. What else can I write about that can make my song a little bit different, and kind of separate me from the pack?” I’m always looking to do things like that. And I was like, “What about Rose and Jack from Titanic?” Because it was such a huge movie that pretty much everybody knows about, and that love story was a huge love story, and so that’s what we wrote off of. Rose needs a Jack!

And that was before you found your “Jack,” was it?!

Ah, I’m trying to think. I was dating him at the time. So, he was there! (she giggles).

Last question. You were going to come over to play C2C before the pandemic hit. In fact, like many other artists, you were literally just on your way over before the show was cancelled.

I was actually on the plane, not to London, but the first plane, where you have a layover in one of the states, and then you were supposed to get on the next plane to London, and I didn’t get on that plane because everything was shutting down. And that’s the last thing that I did until quarantine kicked in, which was crazy.

I’ve heard so many wonderful things about UK fans, which makes me so excited to come over. I’ve never been outside of the United States, so I was really excited to come over and play C2C and all of that stuff. I hear that UK fans are very passionate about artists, especially C2C festival, and that kind of thing of really looking into the artist and learning the music and learning the songs, and screaming the lyrics at you, and that’s something that I’m excited to experience when I hopefully get to come back over next year, hopefully.

You were going to play the Spotlight stage, but maybe now they’ll have to move you up to the main stage!

I hope so. Fingers crossed!

By Maura Sutton

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