January 17 | 2024

Lainey Wilson Is the Realest Deal

The first thing Lainey Wilson says when asked about her hometown is that it has no stoplights. It has a lot of cornfields, though. It’s a town full of good, hardworking folks who are there when you need them and there when you don’t. She casually uses the phrase “grace and grit” in conversation. Her Louisiana accent is so potent that there are some words the automated transcription service used to record our interview gets wrong or just leaves out entirely. To talk to Wilson is to witness a bona fide storyteller at work.

For some country music stars, especially those who have come up during the last decade or so, constantly evoking iconography that’s become synonymous with expectations of the genre can feel performative, rote, maybe even a little absurdist. (Luke Bryan can, in case you didn’t know, wrestle hogs and gators with his two bare hands, hot-wire your tractor, and salt-cure a ham.) But even after a few minutes of conversation over Zoom, it’s clear nothing about Wilson is overly personified—including her down-home locutions and robust twang.

“I think sometimes, especially when people were first getting introduced to me, they heard my accent and immediately thought, There's no way this girl could be that country,” she says. “The truth is, you can say anything you want to about me, but when you start talking about my accent, I’m ready to fight somebody because then I start feeling you’re talking about my family.”


Wilson, 31, is largely considered country music’s newest Big Deal, having had a slew of soulful chart toppers and an impressive sweep at the 2024 CMA Awards in November, where she bagged album of the year for Bell Bottom Country, female vocalist of the year, vocal event of the year, video of the year, and the coveted CMA entertainer of the year award, making her the first woman in more than a decade to win that particular honor, and only the second since 2000 (Taylor Swift won it twice). To put this into context: Country icons such as Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert have yet to take home this award.

What’s striking about Wilson, in addition to her signature bell-bottoms (more on that later), is her willingness to embody country at its most authentic. But she also possesses a cerebral awareness about what it means to be a relevant artist in 2024 by not boxing herself into the conventions we’ve associated with traditional country singers. Make no mistake: She sings about the wistfulness of first loves, a fifth of Jack, and wild horses, but her perspective and artistry is wider in scope.

Read the full article here.