From the Farm to the Winnebago: Stephanie Quayle Finds Her Way
Stephanie Quayle grew up on a working buffalo farm in Montana and fondly remembers being surrounded by animals and music. Her grandmother taught her piano at a young age, and she picked up guitar as a teenager. She spent her time singing in church and her school choir, but it wasn't until she moved to Switzerland for a study abroad program that she realized music was her true passion.
The singer recalls her first month abroad vividly. One night she was at a cafe with her host brother when she overhead a band talking about how their lead singer moved back to Germany. Without missing a beat, she let them know that she sang. Shortly after she auditioned, and she was hired.
"We started writing songs together and performing on the weekends," Quayle tells Taste of Country nostalgically. "That was my after school project. That was my life. When I got up on stage singing songs I had written, performing with this band that I'd been playing with, it changed me. [I decided] this will be my life. I had no idea how. I just knew I had to, it was a must. They always say it has to be a must for you to really know."
When she returned to Montana after being in Switzerland for a year, Quayle was ravenous for music. She says she had to sing everything she got her hands on, regardless of the genre. She got the itch to move to California, and the experience taught her a lot about herself, but when people started questioning her version of three chords and the truth she realized Nashville was the place she really needed to be.
It's been six years now since Quayle moved to Music City. She recalls performing at a writers round at Puckett's in Franklin, Tenn., shortly after she settled into town — she marveled at the rawness of many of the artists who showed up with simply an acoustic guitar and their voice.
"I just remember saying, 'I want that. I want to be able to do that. Yes, the bells and whistles and everything else that goes into producing this amazing show, the fireworks and all that, but to have that ability to take it down to its most raw, pure form, I want that,'" she recalls. "That's what I became obsessed with. Honing in on how to be a better player, better writer, and more thoughtful in how I sing so that the words in which I'm singing are being conveyed in the most honest way."
Quayle's previous single, "Drinking With Dolly" conveys this vulnerability and honesty. While she didn't write the song, her voice powerfully emotes the lyrics as she sings of being born in the wrong decade while dreaming of drinking with Dolly Parton after performing at the Grand Ole Opry. It's a song that she says changed her life and one that Parton is a fan of, having written Quayle a letter expressing her love for the track.
"One of my greatest desires when I moved to Nashville was to earn the respect of the community. The songwriting community, the artist community, and it be real and authentic. I think what I'm starting to feel is that camaraderie from a real, honest way," she notes.
Quayle's new single is the feel-good summer anthem "Winnebago," which has her traveling the country and visiting landmarks like Hoover Dam, Mount Rushmore and the Golden Gate Bridge. The infectious track also serves as the title of Quayle's 2017 summer tour for which she is partnering with Kampgrounds of America (KOA). She'll be stopping at national parks and various venues to perform all summer.
"The first time I heard the song it was one of those songs that just made me sway and head bob. It just feels good," she gushes. "Not to mention, it talks about going all across the country to all these beautiful, incredible places in America. I want to hold your hand at the top of the Empire State, take a Polaroid picture under Mount Rushmore. Visually, it's like the best movie ever."
In the midst of a new single and summer tour, Quayle is also readying a full-length album. The singer says it will include a blend of songs she's found and written.
"There are some songs that are as deep as a dog dish and some that are as deep as the ocean," she says with a laugh. "There's something for everyone. I think that's really important when you're making an album, that it's not just one thought. It covers all the bases."
Quayle's single "Winnebago" is at radio now. It was produced by Matt McClure.
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