Growing up in New Jersey, Lauren Davidson wasn’t exactly exposed to a lot of country music when she was little. In fact, her listening habits tended to be more along the pop and rock mold, and aside from the occasional artist who crossed over, she knew virtually nothing about the genre.
“I worked in theater, and when I was in college, I booked a country show at Hershey Park and the production company was based in Nashville, and the first day of rehearsal they gave us a little history lesson of country music and I just fell in love with it right away,” she said. “It’s been stuck with me ever since.”
She’s since moved to New York City and started playing with some country-focused bands, and has quickly established herself as one of the top up-and-coming singers in country music today.
In 2015, Davidson released her first two singles, Sometimes and Loaded Gun, to critical acclaim and last year delivered her debut EP, Hear Me. The country world took notice and her name was quickly bandied about in magazines and on country radio hailing her as one of the singers to watch.
“We coined the term ‘urban country,’ and I think that’s really representative of me and my writing style, which is a little bit unique,” she said. “What I love about country music is that it tells stories but you don’t have to be from the South or Nashville to tell that story. My music tells my story from New Jersey and New York.”
Her quick ascent in the business has earned her the opportunity to play numerous venues around the tri-state area, and she has opened for such significant country music acts as LOCASH, Old Dominion and Justin Moore, among many others.
Among her favorite venues to play are the Gramercy Theater and Irving Plaza, plus some smaller venues that are more conductive for singer-songwriting types, such as American Beauty and Rockwood Music Hall.
“The country scene in the city has changed so much,” Davidson said. “It was about four years ago when Nash FM came here and it’s where country music really started to develop its roots.”
The station ended a 17-year drought of country music in New York City radio, and many of the clubs and bars started capitalizing on the newfound country fans, holding nights devoted to country music.
Of course, Davidson noted, there is less competition for gigs than there would be in Nashville, where country music thrives, but there are plenty of singers and musicians who are creating their own country community.
“The country scene is just thriving and growing more and more every single day,” Davidson said. “All the big tours come through now, and because of that, you see so many people who you didn’t realize were into country music, into this music.”
On Jan. 4, the country star will play the Palace Theatre in Stamford, bringing a bit of country to Fairfield County.
“I’ve been writing new music, so we’ll definitely be playing some new songs, plus some old songs that we’ve released,” Davidson said. “It was a little over a year ago when my debut EP was released and I’ve been writing ever since, so there will be a lot to choose from this time around. There’s just going to be a lot of energy at this show.”
Davidson said she gets inspired to write new songs by everything from walking down the street and seeing something interesting to hearing a common phrase or her personal experiences.
It was her father who first taught her how to craft a great song.
“When I was little, he was a singer/songwriter and played guitar and piano, and when I decided I wanted to give songwriting a try so I could sing my own songs instead of someone else’s, I went to him first,” she said. “I had all these ideas, and I wasn’t sure if any of them were good, or if I could even do it, but we sat down together and took these ideas and made them into songs, kind of playing off each other. Who knows me better than him?”
“What I like most about writing with him is that everything feels really honest and really me,” she said. “I’ve found when you get into a songwriter’s room with different artists, it’s sometimes hard to be honest and vulnerable.”
Looking ahead, Davidson hopes to continue releasing new music and play bigger venues and wants to go out on the road and tour.
“Having the background of growing up in theater, I’ve been on the stage since I was 10 years old, so I really love performing live, and I want to always be performing live,” she said. “Some artists and some writers like being in the studio more, but for me, being on stage is a big part of who I am as an artist and I would love to do that much more.”