Talented country singer/songwriter Lainey Wilson is in the midst of having a breakout year. Her debut single, “Things A Man Oughta Know,” is moving up the Billboard country charts, and has already reached #15 on the Country Airplay chart. This single appears destined for the Top 10, and it’s establishing Wilson as one of the top female artists to emerge this year. More people are also discovering that Wilson has a strong, soulful singing voice, and she has a colorful personality.
“Things A Man Oughta Know” is just one of several standout songs on Wilson’s debut album, Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’, which was released in April on Broken Bow Records. Her title cut, “Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’,” is a solid contender to be another hit single for her, and this song warmly conveys her personality—that she’s a person who’s going to speak her mind and always tells it like it is.
Other key songs on her album include “LA,” where Wilson describes her love for her home state of Louisiana, and the playful song “WWDD,” which stands for What Would Dolly Do. Wilson is a big fan and admirer of Dolly Parton, and in the song she says that she would happily follow in Dolly’s footsteps. Another highlight is “Keeping Bars In Business,” which has a unique title and lyric story.
Wilson was born and raised in the small town of Baskin, Louisiana, and she fell in love with music at a young age. She first sang publicly in kindergarten, and when she was 11 she learned to play guitar and started writing songs.
Interestingly, during her high school years, Wilson became a professional singer by impersonating Hannah Montana onstage. She traveled to many Southern states, and played many shows as Hannah Montana. She even opened some shows for the real Hannah Montana, Miley Cyrus.
When Wilson was 19, she decided to move to Nashville and pursue her artist career. As it turned out, she definitely wasn’t an overnight success. She lived in a camper trailer for three years, and it took several years of being an indie artist before she secured a label deal with Broken Bow Records (the flagship imprint of BBR Music Group).
Here’s the video of Lainey Wilson’s hit, “Things A Man
For her debut album, Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’, Wilson teamed up with top Nashville producer, Jay Joyce, who produced all the songs on the album. Joyce is Grammy-winning record producer who is known for his work with Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, Brothers Osborne, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban.
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Lainey Wilson. She tells how she co-wrote her hit “Things A Man Oughta Know,” and discusses her favorite songs on her album.
DK: I read that you’re from a small town called Baskin in Louisiana. How did you get started as a singer and writing songs?
Lainey Wilson: I sang my first song in public at my kindergarten graduation. I just felt at home onstage, and I knew that this was something I wanted to do. Then when I was 11, my daddy showed me a few chords on the guitar and that opened the door for my songwriting. And around that time, my parents and I drove through Nashville and they took me to the Grand Ole Opry, and I remember having an overwhelming feeling that Nashville is where I’m supposed to be.
Then in high school, I actually impersonated Hannah Montana…that was my high school occupation. I started doing that in eighth grade and I traveled all over Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Tennessee. Every now and then they would let me open up the show for Hannah (laughs), and that even made it more evident to me that performing was what I’m supposed to be doing, along with songwriting. Then I started playing with a band for a few years, and I finally decided…if I’m going to take this thing to the next level, that I need to be in Nashville. So I bought a wonderful camper trailer when I was 19, and I hauled it to Nashville. And in August of this year, I will have been here for 10 years. It has been a journey—it’s been a hard one but a fun one.
DK: You released an album called Tougher in 2016, and you self-released an EP in 2018. Can you talk about your journey, from being an independent artist to signing with BBR Label Group?
Here’s a video of Lainey Wilson performing her song, “Sayin’
What I’m Thinkin’.”
Wilson: Yeah, it’s been an interesting journey. I was trying to find my place and figuring it out along the way. It’s so crazy. When I moved to Nashville, I did not know what to do, who to talk to. So it was a big learning process for me, but it’s so cool to go back and listen to the music that I put out years ago. I’m proud of how far I’ve come, and I’m seeing that growth in my writing. But more importantly, just me as a human, the more life you live, the better songs you write.
DK: I like your hit song, “Things A Man Oughta Know.” How did you come up with the idea for this song?
Wilson: I wrote it with (hit songwriters) Jonathan Singleton and Jason Nix, and Jason actually had the idea…Things A Man Oughta Know. He was like, “Man, it’d be cool to run it by Lainey and see what her thoughts are.” When he brought up the title, I said, “Y’all gonna be here all day long, because there’s a long list of the things that you men oughta know” (laughs). Then when we were writing it, we just dove into my childhood. You know, I’m from a very blue collar farming community…my parents made sure that I knew how to do stuff around a farm. So we talked about that for awhile, and we dove deeper and talked about the characteristics that my parents taught me to look for in myself and in other people…choosing who I’m surrounding myself with in life.
I’m so thankful that this is a song that is connecting, and people are latching onto, because it really is who I am to my core, and what I stand for. And that’s treating people with kindness and having good character. And you know, that’s not just something that a man oughta know. It’s what every single one of us should know.
DK: Besides your single, I like several other songs on your album. One of my favorites is your title song, “Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’.” It seems to capture what you’re about as an artist, that you’re not afraid to say what you think.
Wilson: That’s right (laughs). I’ve been sayin’ what I’ve been thinkin’ my whole life. So I figured…Why not name the record that? That is who I am in a nutshell…I’m definitely a firm believer in thinking before you speak. I’m not down to hurt anybody’s feelings. But I think it’s important to tell the truth. For me, the songs that have changed my life, or songs that make me feel something, are the ones where people are being brutally honest. But aside from songwriting, just telling the truth really does set you and everybody around you free. Of course, it’s hard to tell the truth at times…it’s cost me friendships and relationships. But at the end of the day, there’s something very rewarding about telling it like it is. That’s what I want do with my music.
Here’s the lyric video for Lainey Wilson’s song, “LA.”
DK: Another good song on your album is “LA.” At first, I thought you were writing a song about Los Angeles. But it’s actually about Louisiana. What inspired you to write this song?
Wilson: When I moved to Nashville in 2011, everywhere I went I would say, “Hey I’m Lainey,” and they would go, “Where in the world are you from?” And I would tell them, “I’m from LA.” And they’re like, “What are you talking about? You are not from Hollywood.” They thought I was talking about Los Angeles, and I was talking about home (Louisiana).
People ask me, “What song on the record do you feel describes you and your story in three minutes?” And I always say “LA” because it does have that sassy, fun, redneck Hollywood vibe, and I’ve always had stars in my eyes when I go places and see things and meet people. So I feel “LA” is a good representation of that, but it’s also me staying true to my roots.
DK: You have a fun song on your album called “WWDD,” which stands for What Would Dolly Do. Are you a big Dolly Parton fan?
Wilson: I’m a huge Dolly fan. I mean, Dolly can do no wrong. As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t like Dolly, something’s wrong with you (laughs). I really like everything about the lady—her personality, her songwriting, her singing. And she’s an incredible businesswoman. But more importantly, she has a heart of gold. I think if everybody was a little more like Dolly Parton, the world would be a better place.
DK: Currently, you’re about to play shows again, and this summer you’ll be going on tour, opening for Jason Aldean. Can you talk about your shows coming up, and your tour with Aldean?
Wilson: Absolutely. I believe we don’t have a free weekend until the end of November, which is pretty awesome. We’re making up for last year. Until August rolls around, we’re doing fairs and festivals every weekend, and then in August we jump on the Jason Aldean and Hardy tour. We’re going to be all over the country in three months. This will be my first arena and amphitheater tour with an artist like Jason, so it’s very exciting.