Influenced by the likes of such country greats as Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton, Stephanie Quayle is set to bring her own brand of “new country” to the stage in Covington on May 24. (Special Photo)
Although the best of them generally find their way to Nashville, country singers come from everywhere.
Such is the case with singer-songwriter Stephanie Quayle, whose circuitous route to Music City began in Montana, included a migration to Switzerland and found traction in Los Angeles.
And Quayle, who will appear in concert with Jake Clayton on Saturday, May 24 at the 5 O’Clock Sports Bar & Grill in Covington (her debut in Georgia), made the most of every stop along her music journey before finding her niche in the cradle of country music.
“I knew I didn’t want to go to Nashville until I was ready,” Quayle said in a telephone interview earlier this week. “And from the standpoint of being emotionally ready and being financially able to be a full-time artist, I wanted to make sure the time was right — and I moved to Nashville in November of 2011.”
Releasing her debut CD “Stand Back” in 2013 and with a brand-new single, “Sugar High,” now available to the public, Quayle is starting to enjoy the fruits of her travels and her labor.
“When I first got to Nashville, I would play anywhere, anytime, anyhow,” she said. “My manager and I always laugh because we’d play a garage door opening. Coming to Nashville was about finally immersing myself in that creative community. I’ve learned so much. I started going to songwriter nights and meeting writers that way. This community is extremely generous if you’re willing to do the work.”
An equestrian enthusiast who has shared her talents for a host of worthy causes in her short-but-notable career, Quayle’s story begins in her hometown of Bozeman, Montana, where she heard nonstop country music on the radio in her family’s horse barn. It was at that point that she began her ascent.
“I heard that little AM radio in the barn and started absorbing it,” she said. “I didn’t see it as a career at that time, but I started playing the piano at the age of 4 and would sing and play anywhere I could.”
As a high school junior, Quayle traveled to Switzerland as part of the Youth for Understanding program and almost immediately fell in with a group called Scotch & Soda and was able to experience some limited touring and recording.
“That’s when I knew that music would be my life,” she recalled. “I didn’t know how it was going to happen, but I knew it was what I had to do.”
She subsequently moved to Southern California (“With my three or four country songs,” she quipped) and eventually found her way to Nashville. And is usually the case with the good ones, she doesn’t see much of her adopted hometown anymore due to the obligations of the road.
“We’re on the road all the time and I love it,” she said. “I love meeting new people and I love to hear their stories.”
Although she works hard at songwriting, the compelling “Sugar High” was penned by the gifted trio of Kelley Lovelace (who has written several hits for Brad Paisley), Ashley Gorley (who has composed songs for Carrie Underwood and Luke Bryan) and Steve McEwen (who wrote Kenny Chesney’s “Summertime”).
While she’s unquestionably a purveyor of “new country,” Quayle’s influences run deep, no doubt a result of all those hours listening to the radio with the horses in Bozeman. She said that she always was impressed with what the members of country music royalty did on and off the stage.
“I grew up listening to a lot of traditional country — Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Reba (McEntire), Dolly (Parton),” she said, adding she recently saw a concert with Lynn and Merle Haggard at Lynn’s ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. “It was the best of the best. And I was drawn to artists that have great personalities, Dolly being a perfect example. Their music is phenomenal but what they do outside of music and how they live their lives is pretty amazing.
“As an artist and a songwriter, I try to keep elements of traditional country with my sound. I always love going back to that classic time of country music.”
Quayle’s debut album is set to drop this summer and in the meantime she’ll be out there on the highways and byways, seeking to pick up new fans along the way. She and Clayton are sharing a band and have performed together for several years, and Quayle says their sets will feature the best of their own songs, as well as a few chestnuts from the country canon.
“We just love to entertain,” she said of their high-energy performance. “We love to leave audiences feeling like they’ve really experienced something. And we’ll pull out a few surprises during the show. We like to put our own spin on them. We stay true to the songs, but we also like to give them a little ‘thump, thump.’”
For more information on Stephanie Quayle, visit www.stephaniequayle.com.
Chris Starrs is a freelance writer based in Athens. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.