Nashville recording artist Erin Kalin’s first album, No Regrets Yet, featuring her duet with Vince Gill, received rave reviews and landed her a record deal offer with Toby Keith. However, personal issues put Kalin’s music career on hold. Now, she returns with her new single "U-Turns" from her upcoming album You Found Me. A devoted mother to her four children, Kalin kindly took some time from her busy schedule to talk about her journey, the new single, album, and more.
You began singing in the church at age four, did that foster your love of music?
Absolutely! The minute I started singing, I just loved it; I didn’t want to do anything else. I think it was one of those things where it was a gift embedded in me.
My Dad is a pastor, so I grew up singing in the church and on the worship team throughout high school. We traveled to inner cities and other countries to serve others, which had such an impact on me. My parents taught me to be others-centered and to think about others before myself. These were invaluable lessons that I have carried through to my adult life. Even now, I can relate those lessons to music. I love the message of love that music can send and how it can connect with the heart, even if people speak a different language or have different feelings. Music can gather people together that wouldn’t necessarily gather together and I love seeing that and being a part of anything like that.
You grew up in the church, so when did you discover country music?
It was an interesting turn of events. I always loved Don Henley and the Eagles, I even had the opportunity to open for Glenn Frey once at the Dayton Challenge; I also liked Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. Then I stumbled upon Reba when I was watching this documentary with my mom. Reba was in another country serving others, giving back with her music. I loved how big her heart was and how great her personality was; she totally embodied everything I wanted to be as an artist. I didn’t know what being an artist meant at the time, but I wanted to be like her. I fell in love with her, Faith Hill, Shania, and Garth.
I am a huge lover of country music. I love how the storytelling in country music genuinely connects with people. I’m such a lover of music - I don’t care how old someone is, or what gender they are, I just love great songs and people who sing their story. That’s what I connect to and I think that’s what people want to hear.
Your first album was released in 2009 and things seemed to be moving ahead very positively [Kalin had opened for Kenny Rogers, Lee Ann Womack, and Hank Williams Jr among others], then you took a break. What happened and why was now the right time to return?
I had been singing and was offered a record deal by Toby Keith, which was amazing. I was also a wife and mother raising my children, but when I was offered the deal I felt a huge amount of pressure that I was to choose my marraige over the record deal. I chose our marriage and I am so glad I did, but a few years later, he ended up not being part of our family and I was devastated because I thought we would be together forever. I was broken and my heart was shattered; I didn’t know my worth anymore. I knew my kids needed stability, so I went to work in corporate America which I had not done in years because I was singing for so long. I waited tables, managed a restaurant and cleaned homes on the side even bringing my daughter with me to some jobs; I did whatever I had to do to be home with the kids during the day. It was an absolutely life changing time for me because I learned not only about heartbreak, but also about perseverance and about how many people walk around with dreams that they may never get to achieve. I learned how truly amazing single moms are; they work every day, sometimes with broken hearts and shattered dreams, so they can provide for their kids. It was an incredible time of growth for me, but I never thought about getting back into music; that was the furthest thing from my mind.
At one point, Bill Hearn from EMI heard my old cd and asked me to come to a concert with him, which I did. We talked and he asked me to think about getting back into music, telling me it was important that I sing. I said “Oh no” and fought it for two years during which he often texted me asking me for new music. I was like, “When do I have time for new music?” (laughing) Really, I thought he was just being nice.
Then, in October 2014, out of no where , I got asked to sing the National Anthem for the San Diego Chargers game. It was two days before the game and what better way to test your nerves then singing accepella in front of a stadium full of people right? (laughing) I was really nervous but the minute I got out on the field I felt so at peace and home again. I had missed singing so much because I had missed all the amazing people, celebrating all together in the same place! It was amazing!
So last February I went back to Nashville for the first time since 2008. I honestly didn’t know if I could ever write again or what I would write about, but it turned out to be an awesome experience. I met with songwriters and loved their songs, but it felt unnatural to sing something I couldn’t say was my story. I decided that if I was going to sing again, I should probably sing what went on with me and a lot of that came from my journal entries. I took all of my journal entries from the last five years and brought them with me to Nashville and just opened myself up to people with my journal entries - which was a terrifying thing to do. I read one entry which was about wanting someone to be real with me and tell me how to get through this [the dissolution of her marriage]; I needed somebody to relate to because I felt so alone. And that’s the biggest thing - in reality, nobody has it all together and the more we can be there for one another and relate to one another, the better it is for all of us. I took that approach to the entire album and said: “Okay I am going to be completely raw and transparent.” I felt that it was okay to sound pathetic or broken on a song because that’s how I felt at the time. I’m not in the same place and I’m so thankful; my heart is healed and today I’m in an awesome place. I want to share these songs because maybe they can be the voice for someone who doesn’t know how to express it, like I didn’t know how to when I was going through it.
They sound like songs people will connect with. The first single from the album, “U-Turns,” will be released February 12th. Is there a story behind the song?
I wrote fifteen songs and eleven ended up on the album. “U-Turns,” I wrote in September . I was talking with my best friends about how I was so grateful for where I was in life. We were talking about how a lot of people struggle with giving up on, or turning away from, someone or something, even a friendship. You get to a place where you realize it is not healthy to carry on and you are like no more U-turns, no more turning back to someone or something you can’t change. You’ve lived and learned and realize it’s time to move on because it is not good for you anymore. I wrote it right there.
It’s funny because people often ask me what was the one moment where I realized that, but it was not one specific moment, there were so many things in my life that got me to that stronger place. I wish there was one lesson we learned in high school and we never have to struggle again (laughing), but it was a lot of slow little learning lessons. Women nurture hearts, we always think we can change things and while forgiving and forgetting is awesome it doesn’t mean that you have to give that person another turn with your heart. There is nothing more hurtful than being rejected. It is often hard to relate to someone who always has it all together. I am happy for those people, but I didn’t get those cards dealt to me. And I think most people cannot relate to being happy all the time.
Your new album, You Found Me, will be released in March. What is the significance of the title?
The title is a song that I wrote for all of the people who championed me in my life, not just in my music. It’s a love song for my children, my mom and dad and my sister as well as my best friend who manages me. She fought for me and was incredibly encouraging when I did not know my worth. It’s a rare thing to find people like that, but maybe through “You Found Me” others will understand that you just don’t love somebody on their good days, you love them every day completely, unconditionally and selflessly.
The album tells your journey over the past few years. What else can you say about it?
I knew the sound I wanted when I went to make the record; I wanted the whole album to have a cinematic feel. Sometimes when you hear a song, the music is amazing but the lyrics are shallow or vice versa, so I said that if I was going to pour my heart out and bare my soul on this record, even if no one listens to it, I wanted the music to sound like the lyrics and vice versa. Whatever the emotion was, I just wanted to go there. The record is the soundtrack to my life from when I became a single mom, with “I Need You,” to the place where I am today, with songs about being unbreakable, and holding my head up high. There is a mix of tempos in songs about the past, present, and future. The sad songs are from the past and other songs are hopeful as to what the future can be, including maybe one day finding a soul mate. I want to enjoy the future and bring joy, understanding that hardships led me to this place. I am so thankful that I get to be a mommy and to be able to sing songs from my heart. I'm thankful for second chances, and for all the lessons learned. I am so incredibly grateful to be where I am and truly humbled.
For more information visit her official website
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