The COVID-19 pandemic may have put a lot of things on hold, but country music artist Tiera’s career hasn’t been one of them. The Birmingham-area native has lived in Nashville, TN, for the past four years, where she’s been busy performing, writing and networking. Her hard work paid off in March when she signed a publishing deal with Songs and Daughters, an imprint devoted to female acts that was launched last year by Big Loud with hit songwriter and producer Nicolle Galyon.
Meanwhile, Tiera has also been planning her upcoming wedding and using social media to be vocal about what it’s like to be a Black artist in country music. We’re excited to introduce our newest FACE of the South, Tiera.
How and when did you fall in love with country music?
I’ve been singing ever since I was little, but I think around middle or high school, I started to get more serious about music. When I started writing music, the music that I was writing was just naturally country. I love to write songs about my life and what I’m going through, and I think that’s what country music is all about. I never really decided I wanted to do country music. It just kind of naturally happened.
How has moving to Nashville helped your music career?
Before I moved to Nashville, I was traveling back and forth from Birmingham to Nashville, and everybody I met said, “If you want to do country music, then you need to live here.” Because it’s such a small town, it’s hard to meet people when you’re not actually here, and you can’t just pop up at a show the next day. And everybody here does [songwriting sessions] Monday through Friday. When I was in Birmingham, I was in college, so I couldn’t necessarily come up here and write on a weekday. But now that I’m here, I have the freedom to go to whatever show I need to and write. It’s just a lot easier to connect with people.
In 2018, you were a part of a song and video project in response to the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements. Some artists choose to stay silent on political matters. Why did you feel it was important to be a part of this?
I think something like that and also the Black Lives Matter movement — I don’t feel like that’s a political statement. That’s just basic human rights. Everyone deserves to be included. So, I definitely wanted to be a part of that conversation in any way that I could, and the way I know how to do that is through music.
You recently discussed on Instagram what it’s like to be Black in country music. Has anyone ever told you or implied that you don’t belong in country music because of your race?
I’ve never been told that. But when I was shopping for a publishing deal, I would meet with people, and they would say I was such a great singer and such a great writer, but they would never sign me. I don’t think it was because they didn’t want me to be in country music. I think they just didn’t know what to do with me.
But earlier this year you did sign a publishing deal. Congratulations! Tell us more about your work with Songs and Daughters.
I’ve been working with them for a while now, and we just made it official in March. It’s nice to have someone to go to for advice on music. They’ve been so supportive of everything that I’ve done and really let me have my own voice when it comes to the songs that I write. It’s been really great. It’s the perfect team. It really feels like a family.
You’ve written some songs recently that have more of an R&B sound. Are you planning to delve into other genres of music?
When I go into the writer’s room, whatever comes out is what comes out because I think you can miss out on a great song if you have too many barriers around it. I just like to write all kinds of music, and I don’t like to limit myself in the [writing] room.
My sound is R&B country, and sometimes the songs come out more R&B than country, sometimes they come out more country than R&B. Growing up, I listened to a variety because my parents listened to all kinds of music. I think that translates into the music that I write now. I’m releasing some new music later this year, and it definitely has that R&B country sound, but you can definitely tell that it’s country. That’s always where my heart’s going to be.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your career?
I signed my publishing deal right at the beginning of all of this. We had to stop doing in-person [songwriting sessions], and we started writing over Zoom. We write songs faster on Zoom than we do in person, but it’s because you miss out on hanging out and talking. I definitely miss that.
There definitely were some shows I wish I could have done this year like CMA Fest, but that always comes back around. I think overall, it hasn’t been too bad. I’ve really gotten to focus on my music and focus on the songs I want to write, and that was really my goal this year.
How has the pandemic affected your wedding plans?
We can’t go wedding dress shopping, but we have gotten a lot of wedding planning done, and we’ve secured a venue. It has been kind of nice because normally my fiancé and I would be super busy. If it was a normal world, we wouldn’t have gotten as much done with the wedding as we have. It’s been kind of nice to have it slow down a little bit.
When the world is normal, where do you like to spend time in Nashville and in Birmingham?
And in Birmingham, the spot is always Milo’s for chicken fingers and fries. Whenever we go back, it’s always my first stop.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or the best advice you have to give?
Always be true to who you are and what you want to say. That was really important for me when I was figuring out how to enter the music world. I really just wanted to create music that was truly what I would say and truly how I wanted it to sound. People are always going to have opinions and what they think you should look like and what they think you should say, but at the end of the day, you need to do what’s best for you.
Name three things you can’t live without.
Potatoes. I have potatoes for breakfast every single morning, and I love fries.
My robe because I’m always cold.
And my plants. I love plants. I feel like they bring life to a room.