Upon listening to Kayla Woodson’s music, few would guess she’s fresh out of college at Belmont University in Nashville. With an impressive vocal range and heartfelt, self-composed songs about love and loss, audiences could easily mistake her for one of the great stars already well established in the industry. In this crazy, passionate, mixed up business we like to call music, there is such a thing as staying power. We hear bright new stars by the dozens every year, but rarely do they stick around for thirty or forty years like the treasured few queens and kings in the industry. Kayla Woodson has that staying power. With a new single out today, Woodson is proving that with enough passion, talent, and work ethic, succeeding in the industry as an independent artist is not only possible, but a whole lot of fun. Lula 1892 had the chance to catch up with Woodson on the eve of her new release to chat about her background in music, philosophies on hard work, and her brand new single.
When Woodson arrived in Nashville in 2012 she was no stranger to music; making guest appearances with a local band at the ripe old age of six, Woodson knows her way around stages across the country. “I started singing just shy of four. I loved music- I wanted to sing along to everything. When a four or five year old says they want to do something, their parents don’t really believe them- but by the time I was six my parents kind of realized how serious I was about it. After that, we started going to Texas and playing the Opry circuit and started making family vacations out of it. By the time I was nine or ten I was singing at a festival and one of the coordinators told my mom if she could get me a band he’d put me on the main stage the following year. We ended up finding a band, so by the time I was ten we were traveling to festivals, weddings, fairs, parties-anything you can think of. I was playing shows at least every weekend, and from there it kept going. When I was eighteen I moved to Nashville, and now I’m still here doing this.”
Apart from her vast experience on stage, Woodson’s songwriting skills set her apart from the crowd. While she can remember penning her own songs as far back as toddlerhood, she credits her move to Nashville for her shift in focus to songwriting and building her catalog of original songs. “When I was younger I’d be in the bathtub singing completely made up things and my mom would write it down. I started realizing how cool it was to write my own songs around ten, but what kind of life experience are you going to write about at that age? As I’ve gotten older I’ve taken the time to really hone in on it. I put out one album when I was fifteen that had a few songs that I wrote, but being in Nashville has helped me a lot. I focus a lot on writing here.” With genuine humility and joy, Woodson added “I’m still focusing a lot on writing. I write all the time, so hopefully it’s still getting better!”
Woodson’s new single, “Unfixable”, is no exception to her talents. The song beautifully captures some of our weakest moments in the midst of love and loss in a way everyone can relate to, but few people want to talk about. “I’ve heard so many interviews with artists where they’ve mentioned a song they’d heard or wrote and they knew it was special and for me that was Unfixable. I finished writing this one with my co-writer, Andrew Peebles, and I knew this was going to be my next single. I want the whole world to hear this song. It is a little bit heart wrenching; it’s a hard topic people don’t want to talk about, but need to. The whole premise of the song is loving someone so much you can’t walk away even though you know the relationship is bad for you. It’s about begging someone to hurt you enough that you hate them, giving you the ability to walk away. Its saying make this unfixable, hurt me to the point that I can leave you. We’ve all known somebody in this kind of situation, and nobody wants to talk about it. Who wants to walk up to someone and say hurt me until I hate you? But we’ve all been there, or we all know someone who’s been there. For me, writing this song was a long time coming. I’ve wanted to release this song for a while and I’m so excited I can now. I’ve counted down the hours until its release.”
Woodson’s passion for her new single, and for her career in general, shines through every time she speaks about it. Having performed the majority of her life, she is no stranger to hard work or to how difficult the industry can be on artists. Given her success, we asked her what advice she would give to other young people trying to make a go of music as a career. As we very quickly came to know was typical of Woodson’s character, she responded with honesty and grace. “What I would tell anyone is that it is hard. You get to Nashville and you realize ninety-five percent of the people that live here are trying to do the same thing you’re doing, so you better find a way to stand out. Find your brand early, find songs that relate to you as a person, and put your emotions on the line with it. I moved to Nashville to attend Belmont, and I’ve met so many of my closest friends and some of my best contacts there and I am so grateful for that. Not only is it hard in this industry, but you need to take opportunities – like going to school or meeting new people or performing in rounds- you need to take the opportunities to get you and your music out there. People not only want to hear your music, they want to know you as a person.”
Though our time with Kayla Woodson was limited, it did not take long to know the type of person she is. Yes, she has the vocal and lyrical talent to stay in this industry for as long as she wants, but that is not what makes her stand out. With equal parts grace, wisdom, and a bit of a silly streak, she has the personality to persevere. She can put a room at ease, speak to strangers like they’re her best friends, and let her passion for making music that touches hearts be known within seconds. She is the type of woman we at Lula 1892 want to see at the Opry and in the Hall of Fame, and we have absolutely no doubt we will be able to watch her conquer those milestones-all with a warm and inviting smile on her face.