Shine's CatchUp with Brit Taylor
Welcome to Shine's CatchUp, a new feature where WFPK host Laura Shine catches up with musicians about their music, new albums, or whatever they've recently been up to.
Musician and songwriter Brit Taylor comes from a part of Eastern, Kentucky that apparently spawns Country Music stars. The proof is on a stretch of highway where she was raised that is called The Country Music Highway 23 where Loretta Lynn, Chris Stapleton, Patty Loveless, The Judds, Dwight Yoakam, and so many more all came from. It's almost like she had no choice but to make great country music which she certainly does! Her new album is called Kentucky Blue and was produced by Grammy Award winner Sturgill Simpson (also from KY.) and legendary producer David Ferguson (Johnny Cash, John Prine, Tyler Childers). We talk about growing up here, her new album, and so much more. Kentucky Blue is now streaming and available everywhere you get your music.
The new album is called "Kentucky Blue" which is also a song on the record. What inspired this song?
This song idea was actually my friend Kimberly Kelly’s idea! Because l’m from Kentucky, she said you need a song called “Kentucky Blue.” We took the idea to Adam Wright, who is one of my all-time favorite song writers, and we just started talking about what Kentucky Blue could mean. I said it has to be sad; a song about longing. He just spat out the words "I’ve been Texas tired and New York wired.” Then I started singing the chorus melody. When a good idea hits, the song just kind of falls out of the sky and writes itself. It’s really something special to be a part of. It feels feels like magic.
You worked with Sturgill Simpson and David Ferguson as producers for the new album. How did that come about and what did they bring to the project?
I had been meeting with a few producers and thinking about the next record and what I wanted it to sound like. I knew what I wanted, and I knew I wanted it to be a country record. A thought popped into my head one day driving back home from Nashville that I should just reach out to Ferg (David Ferguson) about making a record. I think thoughts that are that specific and that random are divine, so when thoughts like that pop into my head, I go by the 5 second rule and just act on it. I sent him a text and said, “Ferg, let’s make a record together, you know how to make a country record better than anybody.” He texted me back immediately and said, “How about me and Sturgill make your record”… And within 20 minutes, Ferg had called me and said to mark my calendar for August 26, 27 and 28th because we were going to make a record. Then, he said, “I’m gonna need you to send me 25 songs!” It all happened so fast. Sturgill and Ferg are the best of the best. I think the best thing they brought to the table is not giving a shit what anyone thinks. They didn’t want any outside opinions. It was just me and them.
You grew up on Country Music Highway 23 which, as a Kentuckian myself, I'm embarrassed to say I had never heard of until now. Tell us please what this highway is known for and how it has informed who you are and your music?
The Country Music High way Route 23 is a 127-mile stretch of highway that runs north and south through the eastern part of the state of Kentucky and covers seven counties. Artists and songwriters like Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle, Dwight Yoakam, The Judds, Chris Stapleton, Billy Ray Cyrus, Tom T. Hall, Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley, Dwight Yoakam, Patty Loveless, Tyler Childers Josh Osborn and Larry Cordle were all born and raised somewhere along that highway! Everyone back there is always wondering who will be the next on that list! I feel so lucky to have been born and raised in an area that loves country music and encourages creativity in young children. The Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, is home of the Kentucky Opry. I auditioned for a U.S. 23 Artist show case when I was 7 years old and later joined the Kentucky Opry Jr. Pros, where I sang with a band of kids my age every weekend in the summer and Christmas season. I lived for singing and performing at the Opry. It’s why I moved to Nashville.
You went to Nashville, TN.,as many artists do, to have a career in songwriting but ended up disillusioned by it (as many artists do!). It seems it wasn't until you took your career into your own hands that things finally started to really happen for you. Why do you think that is? What advice would you give to others who may want to do the same?
Yeah, It’s kind of crazy how that happens, but it does more often than not. No one knows what the keys to success are. There’s no big secret to uncover. If there were some kind of magical formula to “making it,” people would be doing it everyday. But everyone likes to think they know, so everyone likes to tell you what you oughta be doing. I was 23 years old , and having someone paying me to write and to be an artist was the best thing in the world, but it also added so much pressure that I just started chasing the current sounds and what everyone was telling me would work. Most of the popular songs now were written several years earlier when they were too different from whatever was going on then! Sometimes it takes Nashville a while to catch up.. for example… Chris Stapleton. I was going to see Chris at 12th and Porter years before anyone knew who he was… but THANK GOD Nashville finally caught up. My advice to a young artist is to always be open minded, listen to people with an open heart and try things out. But, at the end of the day, you just have to go home, dig deep within yourself and ask yourself if what people are telling you really resonates with you. If it doesn’t, don’t do it. I don't care who the person is who might be giving you their two cents, follow your heart and follow your gut. Figure out who you are and who you want to be and how you want to sound and do that instead. And never be afraid to change your mind. Who you are now might not be who you are in a year. And that’s ok. Don’t be afraid to evolve.
Check out Brit's video for the title track to her new album "Kentucky Blue". Brit will also be playing at The Burl in Lexington, KY. on February 10th, 2023.