Discovering your true passion and being offered the opportunity to actively and encouragingly pursue your dream is a desirable position many people long for in their lives. Rising country singer Amy Wilcox was given the chance to prove her talent to producers and industry executives in the A&E’s reality docu-series, ‘Crazy Hearts: Nashville,’ whose full episodes are now available to stream on the cable network’s website. The musician, whose most recent solo performance occurred last summer when she opened for former ‘American Idol’ contestant Kellie Pickler, also highlighted her relatable songs for potential new fans on the show.
‘Crazy Hearts: Nashville’ follows Wilcox and several of her Nashville friends and fellow musicians, as they sing through their break-ups and romances. Along with her singing colleagues, Lee Holyfield, Leroy Powell, Hannah Fairlight, April Nemeth, Jimmy Stanley, Anthony Billups and music journalist Heather Byrd, Wilcox showed her rise in the country scene on the series.
Wilcox generously took the time recently to talk about filming ‘Crazy Hearts: Nashville,’ as well as her country career, over the phone. Among other things, the singer discussed how the series’ executives unexpectedly contacted her and several of her fellow musicians and friends to document their careers, and how she agreed because she desired the visibility and exposure the show would bring to her music; how she admires such country legends as Reba McEntire and Loretta Lynn, as they emphasize the lyrics and the music of their songs; and how her personal experiences always influence her lyrics, and how she’s always writing down ideas that inspire her music.
Question (Q): You starred on A&E’s reality series, ‘Crazy Hearts: Nashville,’ a docu-series that follows you as you strive for your big break in the music industry. Why did you decide to take part in the series, and how did you become involved in it?
Amy Wilcox (AW): For me, it was really just about the visibility and exposure of my music. I hadn’t really thought about being on a reality show before. When I was approached to do it, the most important thing was the exposure of my music.
It actually came out of the blue. The show contacted a couple people in Nashville who were in the music scene. After they contacted me, we did a Skype interview. The next thing I knew, they were flying down here to meet with us. It kept getting narrowed down more and more.
They met with Anthony (Billups) and me. I think they were attracted to the fact that we were already a group and knew each other, rather than having to pick people who didn’t already know each other.
Q: Speaking of appearing on the show with your friends, what are your working relationships with them while filming?
AW: I think that’s another reason why I was attracted to doing the show. I was able to share that experience with people I’ve known and worked and written with for years. It was that extra comfort zone as I was doing something that was out of my normal comfort zone. (laughs) So we were in it together, and it was a very different experience for a lot of us. So I think it was great to be able to do it with people I trusted and enjoyed being around.
I still have great relationships with everyone on the show, even through the drama. We all came out still being friends. (laughs) We had a really great time filming the show, and it was definitely a new experience, and something I’ve never done before. It was really great.
Getting to share our music, and having the opportunity to get in the studio and record the show, was such an amazing experience. We’re all fans of each other, and we’re passionate about helping each other succeed. We’re going to work together, no matter what.
Q: How has appearing on the show impacted and influenced your musical career? Have you received more attention from fans and critics since filming?
AW: Yes. I think Nashville, and the music business in general, is a really hard industry to break through the initial barrier. I think being on the show definitely has created some buzz, and has helped legitimize my career in the eyes of a lot of people that needed a little something extra. (laughs)
The social media aspect of it, too, has helped give me access to more people, who otherwise wouldn’t have known who I was. In one night, over a million people who previously didn’t know my name now knew my name. That was just amazing in itself, as I was able to connect with new fans all over the country, who I may have never had the chance to connect with. So it’s been great.
Q: What has the experience of performing your music in Nashville been like, particularly after filming of ‘Crazy Hearts’ began? Have fans recognized you from the show?
AW: Yeah. I recently did a big showcase in town for labels and all the industry people in Nashville. It was definitely the biggest show I’ve ever had. A lot of people came in from out of town, who were fans of the show and my music from the show. So it was really great to be able to connect in person with people who have been following me since the show started. So that was a really cool experience.
Q: You’re set to release a new album later this year. Has appearing on the show helped create attention for the record?
AW: Yeah, definitely. I have an album I recorded a couple years ago that’s on iTunes now. Since then, I haven’t had the money to record a new album. But now I have a little bit more buzz from the show, which has helped me connect with a lot of great writers and producers. It helped me take my music to the next level. So it’s been awesome to have that little extra push to connect with the next level of people in the industry who are incredibly talented.
Q: Are there any details you can discuss about your new music, and how it compares and contrasts to your album on iTunes?
AW: Yeah, I think it’s leaning towards more of the pop and rock side of country. Contemporary country is really changing, and there’s a lot of cross-over music, which is really great. I love that country music is now being played on pop radio. So it has a lot of that influence to it. There’s a lot of happy, fun music, because I’m having fun with his new journey, and moving forward. So I’m excited to weave in a lot of my other influences, which aren’t just country-based.
Q: Some of your country influences include Reba McEntire, Jo Dee Messina, Emmylou Harris and Loretta Lynn. How has their musical style influence your singing and songwriting?
AW: Yeah, definitely. I think I am still true to the old country style of writing, and how the music differs from different genres. Country songs are really about the story and the lyrics, rather than just the music. I definitely think that’s something I stay true to, and is really important to me in writing sessions. Collaborating with people who have different styles is really about focusing on the music. I think that’s something that has been passed down from all the country greats, like Loretta Lynn and Reba.
Q: What is the process of writing the music you sing and record? How much of your life influences the songs you write?
AW: My experiences influence my music 100 percent. There’s not a single day, or even a couple hours that pass by, that I don’t pull up my notes and write something down. It’s really cool to walk into a room with one or two other people and write. It’s like a therapy session where you talk about what’s going on in your life, and things you’ve heard or done.
It’s completely about what’s going on, whether in my life, or if I’m connecting with one of the other writers about what’s going on in their lives. The writing is 100 percent based on real experiences, and there isn’t a single song that I haven’t lived. It’s definitely therapeutic. (laughs)
Q: You appeared on Kellie Pickler’s summer tour last year. What was the experience of touring with her like overall?
AW: It was fantastic. Getting to share the stage with someone who has such an amazing following-her fan base is really loyal and incredible-is an honor. It was actually the first time I had opened for a female, which was different. It’s such a different fan base than opening for Luke Bryan. It was really cool.
It was one of those great moments that happens after you’ve been working so hard, and you have the stress of music business, which has its ups and downs. When you get to do something like that, and perform in front of a huge crowd, it’s really cool. People traveled for hours just to see her. To have those people who had never heard my music before be so complementary, and really enjoy the show, was a validating experience. It was exhilarating to be up there, and finally do what I want to do.
Q: Are there any musicians you are interested in recording and touring with in the future?
AW: Yes, there are so many people out there right now who I think are amazing talented. I think country music is doing great right now. I love Kacey Musgraves and Hunter Hayes. I also love this new band that’s coming out, Dan + Shay. They’re brand new, but so incredibly talented. They have a cool pop-country sound. It’s exciting for the males to be coming out onto the scene.
Q: Besides appearing on ‘Crazy Hearts: Nashville,’ what are some of your other plans in promoting your music?
AW: Yes, I’m trying to plan a spring tour right now, which is exciting. It will be the first time that I’ll be (headlining). I’ve played a lot of shows on the road, but to really be on tour is something I’m really excited for.
I just signed with BAA, and they’re an amazing booking company. So I’m excited to get out there and connect with new fans. I’ve recorded a lot of stuff with friends, and have put a lot of stuff on YouTube. I’ve been trying to get my music out there, so people can start hearing it.
For more information on Wilcox, visit her official website and Facebook and Twitter pages.