Meghan Linsey made a name for herself as half of the country duo, Steel Magnolia, but last year, she stole the hearts of Americans through her soulful, passionate performances on “The Voice.” As a Southern girl from outside of New Orleans, Meghan displayed her breadth of talent and unique sound as she performed “Change My Mind,” a powerful ballad she co-wrote. Meghan was voted runner-up and now she is spending her days promoting her recently released EP, growing her beauty brand, Believer by Meghan Linsey, and spending as much time with her dogs as possible. Read on to learn more about Meghan, our FACE of the South.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in New Orleans and we lived there until I was about 10, I guess – second grade. Then we moved to Ponchatoula, LA. So, I grew up in the deep south with one brother, who is a year younger than me, and two older sisters.
Tell us about your journey in the world of music.
I started singing when I was really little; I just started singing at home, and at church, then I started a band when I was 14. I started making my way to Nashville and writing and singing and playing at the Bluebird. And when I was 18, I graduated and I moved to Nashville – I have been here ever since. In 2005, I met Josh Jones, who was my duet partner in Steel Magnolia, and in 2009, when we were on “Can You Duet,” we signed a deal with Big Machine Records. A few years later, once we broke off and split up, I started doing my own thing; I started touring independently. I guess it was last year when I got the call to audition for “The Voice,” and I thought, ‘Why not?’ So I went for it and got second place. And here I am now.
Who has had the greatest influence on your sound?
I grew up around New Orleans, which is a real soulful place. So I have always had an element of soul in my music. Also, my mom had me listening to Tanya Tucker and Dolly Parton; she also listened to a lot of adult contemporary and ’90s pop. My dad was really into ’70s rock and roll – like the Stones and the Beatles. It is a good, wide mix of stuff.
Country was the genre in which you made your name, with Steel Magnolia, but as we saw on “The Voice” and in your new EP, you are capable of tackling a wide range of sound. How would you describe the direction of your music as a solo artist?
I think the new EP is a little more soulful. You know, we didn’t think about it too hard; we just made the record we wanted to make. I wrote a lot of songs with my friends, a lot of my friends played on it, and my boyfriend, Tyler Cain, produced the record – he did a great job. It was just a really fun project for everybody. It is soulful, and it is a little more pop, but it still has real instruments. I think it still appeals to that country crowd. I am just getting back to my roots.
Where is your favorite place you have played?
When I was in Steel Magnolia, we played the Opry a lot; we were regulars – we played about every other month for a few years. That was a huge moment, when we played there for the first time. During CMA Fest, we played Titans stadium, which was huge. So yeah, those are a couple of huge mile markers. Of course, being on “The Voice” each week and singing in front of 16 million people on television wasn’t bad. Also, I sang the [national] anthem at the Saints vs. Cowboys game. It was a lifelong dream and a huge bucket list thing for me – it was pretty cool.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and who gave it to you?
Big Kenny, from Big and Rich, once told me to find what I am good at and do that. It is such good advice, you know. The stuff that stands out and stands the test of time is made when people really dig deep and bring who they are to the table. It is a long journey to learn that, and although Kenny told me this years ago, I don’t think I really knew what he meant. Now that I am a little bit older, I know what I do and what I am good at, so that is what I am going to stick to.
Which artists would be on your dinner party playlist?
I would probably just play the entire Ryan Adams version of the Taylor Swift album because it’s so good.
This year, you are the special guest for the 73rd annual Santa Train. Can you tell us a little bit about this holiday tradition?
Giving back is such a big part of my platform and I enjoy getting to take part, especially at Christmas. So much of being an artist can be self-indulgent, so it is nice to be able to do this event. Santa Train goes all through the Appalachian Mountains and gives gifts to children and families in need. Many great people have been a part of this year after year, and I am really honored that they asked me to be a part of the tradition.
The music industry can be a challenging place for women. What advice do you have for women or young girls trying to break in?
It is hard to be a girl – especially in country music. It is always a struggle to be taken seriously here, and you just have to come in and take your lady balls and put them on the table. Never give up and just be yourself. Never be afraid. Don’t let other people take over and tell you who you are; figure that out for yourself.
What is your favorite Southern meal?
Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, collard greens – just keeping it real
What books are on your bedside table?
Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, by Anne Lamott.
Name three things you can’t live without (excluding God, family and friends)
My dogs, music and yoga
Check out Meghan Linsey’s sound on Believer, her new EP.