Growing up in Texas, country music made a lasting impact on Kaylee Rutland. She was eight when she fell in love with singing while performing her first solo for a Christmas musical at her church, and then, as the saying goes, the rest is history. Over the past few years, she was named Country Living Magazine’s “Artist to Watch in 2017”, Billboard Magazine’s “Top 10 Artists to Watch” in 2014, was a finalist in the inaugural Nash Next competition in 2015, and accompanied RaeLynn on tour in 2016. Currently working on completing her studies at Belmont University, Rutland recently released her new single, “Pick Me Up” and kindly called to talk about the song, its accompanying video, and more.
Your songs blend traditional and contemporary country. Did you always gravitate to country music?
Growing up in Texas I was always listening to, and loved, country music, especially Reba who is my all time favorite. There wasn’t a moment when I decided it was going to be country for me, I’ve just always loved it and before long it was what I was singing, writing, and performing.
Currently, you are a senior at Belmont University. Is it difficult to balance school and a career?
It’s actually easier than I thought would be. I was definitely worried coming into it as a seventeen-year-old, but the majority of my professors are in, or have been in, the music business and are very understanding. It’s been incredible to be taught by people who work in the same industry, get their perspectives, and learn about all the different aspects of it. I love it.
Currently a student at Berklee College of Music, Ava Supplesa has already established herself as an artist to watch. Among her many accomplishments, Suppelsa got the chance to work alongside Josh Groban, Chris Young, and Desmond Child in 2014 and was also invited to Los Angeles by The Grammy Foundation to perform with the Grammy-nominated Hunter Hayes. In February of this year, she released her self-titled debut which was co-produced with Colin Lester Fleming and Dick McVey and features four self-penned tracks. Originally from Chicago, Suppelsa plans to relocate to Nashville this summer to further pursue her country music career and recently called to chat about her roots, the EP, and what’s ahead.
You began performing original material at the age of twelve, so it seems you knew that you wanted to pursue music since a young age?
My earliest memories really are of me wanting to be a singer - my parents would even tell stories describing me as having the lungs of Leann Rimes (laughing). I played piano and was always singing, but Taylor Swift really was a big influence on me learning guitar. So, I started teaching myself and haven’t stopped writing and playing since.
You mentioned Taylor Swift as an influence on your style. Is there anyone else you draw from?
My house was split in terms of genres. My mom liked Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton while my Dad loved Jazz. So, on Friday nights we’d alternate between country artists and say, Frank Sinatra. I also like Norah Jones, Carrie Underwood, and Miranda Lambert and would say they influenced my sound as well.