By Kelly Fisher
Lainey Wilson is currently the highest-ranked female artist at country radio. She’s the reigning Country Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year (in addition to other notable awards), added two new tracks to her highly-anticipated sophomore album after making her acting debut on Yellowstone, and recently kicked off her first-ever headlining tour, just to name a few of the recent highlights in her career.
Still, Wilson doesn’t feel like she’s “made it.”
And she hopes she never does.
Wilson, 30, reflected on her life and her career during the 2023 iHeartRadio SeeHer Hear Her special, celebrating female artists who influence change and make unforgettable strides in their respective industries. iHeartRadio’s third-annual special with SeeHer — the global giant seeking to quash gender bias in marketing, advertising, media and entertainment — made its debut on International Women’s Day on Wednesday (March 8).
“I feel like we are truly just beginning, but I’m not done yet,” Wilson said, reflecting on her upbringing in Baskin, Louisiana, a small town of about 200 people. The award-winning country star remembered that “we didn’t even realize that country music was a genre growing up. We lived out those songs. It was truly the soundtrack of our lives.”
'If I had known how hard it was gonna be, I don’t know if I would’ve ever done it'
Wilson was always drawn to the genre’s storytelling. It’s what inspired her to write her first song at 9 years old. By age 11, she was writing music “about tequila and cigarettes,” she said, “so, I was writing about things that I didn’t know anything about.” When she visited Nashville with her parents, she visited the legendary Grand Ole Opry, where she saw Bill Anderson, Crystal Gayle, Little Jimmy Dickens and Phil Vassar. Even then, Wilson knew, “I’m gonna be up there [on the Grand Ole Opry stage] one day. …I didn’t know how in the world I was gonna get there, but it was just one of those feelings that never wore off.”
Wilson went from performing as a Hannah Montana impersonator (a nod to Miley Cyrus’ famous Disney Channel character she played as she launched her career) in high school, to moving to Nashville, Tennessee. The then-19-year-old lived in a camper trailer for a few years, sleeping in layered coats and socks to endure cold weather when the heater wasn’t enough for the winter weather. Still, it never crossed Wilson’s mind to head back to her Louisiana hometown.
“I wouldn’t change it for anything. But I will say, if I had known how hard it was gonna be, I don’t know if I would’ve ever done it,” Wilson said of the challenges she faced while building her career as a country music powerhouse. She reflected on a life lesson she once learned from her father: “When my daddy brought my first horse home… I remember the horse was bucking and it was acting crazy. And I was crying, ‘let me down, let me down, I wanna get down, I’m scared,’ and I remember like it was yesterday. He told me, ‘you better hold on.’ Those words have stuck with me forever. Because any time I feel like I’m about to lose control or I’m about to fall and hit the ground, it just makes me dig in a little deeper, and it makes me just hold on.”
Read the full interview HERE.