Multi-award-winning singer-songwriter Lauren Alaina was first discovered where she placed runner up on the tenth season of American Idol. She has since received multiple nominations for ACM Awards, CMA Awards, CMT Music Awards, Teen Choice Awards, Radio Disney Awards and Billboard Music Awards. Awards include 2017 ACM ‘New Female Vocalist of the Year’, CMT ‘Breakthrough Video of the year’ for Road Less Traveled, and CMT ‘Collaborative Video of the Year’ for the now 6x Platinum What Ifs with Kane Brown.
As well as collaborating with artists like Brad Paisley, BRELAND, Chase Rice, Chris Young and most recently on One Beer with HARDY and Devin Dawson to name a few, the 26-year old also features on the track, Don’t Blame It On Whiskey – co-written by Miranda Lambert and Eric Church – from Jon Pardi’s third album, Heartache Medication.
Following her 2011 debut album, Wildflower, Alaina released the self-titled EP in 2015 and her critically-acclaimed second album, Road Less Traveled in 2017 – which also produced her first #1 single on the Country Airplay chart with the album’s title track. Last year, she released the EPs, Getting Good and Getting Over Him. The Georgia-native’s third album, Sitting Pretty On Top Of The World was recently released. Alongside award-winning songwriters Liz Rose, Lori McKenna, Hillary Lindsey, Emily Weisband, David Garcia, Ben Johnson, and more, Alaina co-wrote 14 of the 15 songs on Sitting Pretty On Top of the World, including Getting Over Him featuring Pardi and current single, It Was Me.
Alaina also recently scored a leading role in the new Hallmark Channel film, Roadhouse Romance alongside Tyler Hynes, which debuted on September 11, and will release her inspirational debut book, Getting Good At Being You: Learning to Love Who God Made You to Be on November 2nd.
Forgive me if I have this wrong, but I see your release titles as an affirmation of your evolution. For example, your post Idol album, Road Less Traveled was early into your career. The EP, Getting Good was you like, “I’m slowly getting there …” and now, the recently released, Sitting Pretty On Top Of The World, is you feeling like you’re hit that peak. You’ve described the new album as “It’s all of me. The early chapters.” Do your past albums explore the same subject matter in a different kind of way or is this more of an expansion of what you’ve already said?
I definitely think it’s an expansion of Road Less Traveled as an album for me. I was introduced to the world when I was 15 on American Idol. I got second place when I was 16, signed my record deal and made my first album. I started writing with some of the best people in Nashville after the first album.
When I wrote Road Less Traveled, the album, I think I really defined myself as an artist and found my sound and what I wanted to say. And, because I started so young, there were so many people who had so many different opinions of me, and people aren’t necessarily always nice [laughs]. On the internet, people can be brutal and, as a 16-year-old girl, first of all, that’s the most awkward phase for a girl. For any young girl, 16, it’s hard. It’s hard enough in high school, it is something else in the public eye. So, I really struggled for a long time with my identity and loving myself and my insecurities. And Road Less Traveled, the album, was about coming into and learning to love myself. And that became my brand.
With this album, Sitting Pretty On Top Of The World, it’s about being a woman and loving myself when others don’t. And girl, let me tell you, I went through two very brutal breakups. I was with my high school sweetheart for six and a half years – we were engaged, but did not end up married, so I don’t think I have to explain very much there. The next guy I dated was not the ideal boyfriend. He cheated and there was a lot of nastiness there. I went through all of this in the public eye, and I didn’t really know how to deal with that, because I didn’t want to talk about those things when I was going through them because they’re so personal to me. This album is the answer to that. This album, for me, says, I can love myself when others don’t and when things fall apart. I wrote it to empower me. I needed it first and now it’s for everyone else. I wrote it for women to empower them.
I was intentional with the name Sitting Pretty On Top Of The World because I wrote that song about my struggles with depression. Nine times out of 10 I’m the happiest person in the room. I have the biggest personality. I’m always smiling. I also have internal struggles like we all do. And, for the first time in 10 years, in my professional career, this pandemic made me stop and process everything.
I was out for a walk in my mask, not allowed to talk to people, and the weight of the pandemic really hit me and the weight of everything that I’ve been through really hit me and I got sad. Then I got mad that I was sad because I’m pretty blessed, but I also have feelings just like everyone else. So, I wrote down, hitting rock bottom, sitting pretty on top of the world. That really represented my professional life – I’ve been sitting pretty on top of the world – but in my personal life, I was hitting rock bottom. So, I named the album that to really share all sides of me to showcase the wonderful, beautiful things that I’ve been able to do in my career and to also share some more personal things that aren’t ideal. I am in a place of true healing now and this album really feels like a celebration of that. I’m proud of it.
Your inspirational debut book is due for release on November 2nd, which features Trisha Yearwood writing the foreword. With a little bit of country, a whole lot of faith, and a healthy dose of sass, the 224-page book invites fans to take the road less travelled as they step right up to who God calls you to be. Is that newfound confidence what inspired you to write the book?
Yes, the book is important to me. It’s called Getting Good At Being You, so it’s a little nod to my single and about the things I’ve been through and how I became the woman that I am – an empowered, strong, healed woman and how I got there. Hopefully people can read it and take something from it, and find a little bit of healing. I think the world needs a tonne of that right now.
You’ve got a lot on going right now with the release of not only your album and debut book, but your new Hallmark movie, Roadhouse Romance has just been released. Where did you find the motivation to stretch yourself to do so much in such a small amount of time?
Well, I got locked in a pandemic and I thought, “What can I do here?” [laughs]. I really tried to make use of my time. Obviously, it was such a hard time to connect, being at home, so I tried to find creative ways to use that time. I would never normally in a year have time to write a book, make a movie and an album, but I wasn’t touring for the first time in 10 years, so I tried to figure it out.
I shot [Roadhouse Romance] in Vancouver, Canada, so I was also very far away from home [laughs]. I’m so proud of it. I’m excited. I really liked acting. I got sing three songs in the movie, two on the new album and one cover, which was When You Say Nothing At All by Keith Whitley, which is a really important song to me. It was the first song that I ever sang in Nashville when I came up here as a tourist [when] I was 12 in my cowgirl hat. When I was a little girl, my dad played guitar for me and it was the first song we performed together, so it’s really a special song. I did it for my family.
You started singing at three-years-old and writing songs at nine-years-old. Was acting something you also involved in as a child, like even local musicals or theatre shows?
I did choir but I wasn’t in theatre or anything like that. I grew up in a small town and I don’t even know that we necessarily had that in my school. I don’t think we had drama class or anything like that but I can promise you, if we had had it, I would have been in it.
Acting professionally, this is just my second movie, my first one was a movie called Road Less Traveled which was like a promotional tool for the last album and my first number one song. But my family would probably argue that I’ve been acting my whole life, I just haven’t been paid for it until now. If I could ever star in a Broadway play, that would be unbelievable.
What would be your ultimate musical theatre role?
I got to see Wicked, which was cool. I don’t know what I would do. Do they have musicals for southern girls? Cause this accent is going to be pretty hard for me to get rid of [laughs].
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