Country singer and songwriter Kelsey Waldon has come a long way from Monkey’s Eyebrow, Kentucky, where she was raised. From generations of cattle and tobacco farmers, her roots run deep in the Bluegrass state and they are a source of great pride for Waldon. She fell in love with country music at a young age and has been a consistent face on the Nashville and country music circuit playing some of the most famed country stages including the The Ryman Auditorium, The Opry House and Station Inn, a 1970s country hotspot.
Waldon is bringing her latest tour to Zanzabar on Thursday, November 10 and playing in support of her latest album, No Regular Dog. The Wall Street Journal had great things to say about her music calling her singing emotionally direct and pointing to its “unembellished simplicity that will reel you in and hold you.” LEO got to ask Waldon a few questions about country music and playing country music as a woman on the heels of Loretta Lynn’s passing.
LEO: I know you are doing some flood relief with your music. How do you think country continues to serve as music for regular people?
Kelsey Waldon: I think at the heart of country music, what it was intended to be, was a voice for the underdogs. What I consider “country” music is so complex. It is about seeing the complexities and beauty in the simple ideas, and getting right to the heart of the matter. There are many more layers to rural people all around this world than that meets the eye. I’d like to bring some respect back to the genre in that way.
How do you think the genre is changing? It feels like more meaning is coming through the music and less party/have a good time.
I would like to think the genre is becoming more inclusive and more progressive in the best sense of the word. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to innovative. I just try to tell my stories the best way I know how, and bring my own flavor and perspective to the genre…which perhaps in itself is innovation. I always want to see how I can expand within the genre…but also, good music is good music. I try not to be fenced in by genre too much. I think anyone from any walk of life can be inspired and touched by a unique story. Country music is for everybody. Period.
What type of guitar do you play? I thought I read something about pedal steel? Why that?
I play acoustic guitar mainly, rhythm acoustic. I play and sing my songs on tour backed by a hot band of fiddle, pedal steel, electric guitar, bass and drums. We are Kelsey Waldon and “Her Hot Band”, for now.
With the death of Loretta Lynn, how do you think female country singers will continue her legacy and why do you think it’s important?
Female perspective is more important than ever within the genre. It’s hard to not feel like a second class citizen in the genre at times, but I do think that is hopefully changing. I want to be considered a great songwriter, not male or female, just period. We can certainly learn from Loretta by sticking to our guns. Also, by supporting other women within the genre. There is room for all of us and we are all unique and special in our own right. No doubt.
Who are your country music heroes? Any outside the genre?
My country music heroes range from Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Lefty Frizzell, Charley Pride, Ralph Stanley, Merle Haggard, Keith Whitley, Waylon Jennings, Tanya Tucker, Hank Sr and many many more. Got a lot of blues, old time and folk heroes as well. Outside the genre, I have heroes like Bill Withers, Aretha, Kendrick Lamar, and so many more. I’m a big fan of music.
See Kelsey Waldon at Zanzabar this Thursday night, November 10. Show starts at 8 p.m. and doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased HERE.