Growing up in Oklahoma, Adley Stump never dreamed of a career in music. In fact, she was a marketing major at Oklahoma State University when she decided to audition for Jeopardy. She missed the deadline for that show, but soon found herself auditioning for a little show called The Voice. And the rest as they say, is history. Now Stump is preparing to release her debut album, Like This, which includes the touching single "Stay At Home Soldier." Stump kindly took the time to talk about her journey, the single and the unique relationships she has formed to help spread the word about the music and assist others.
There is a pretty incredible story behind your entry into music.
I have always loved music, but I never thought to dream this big. The Voice was the very beginning for me. I was in college as a PR marketing major and like any broke senior decided to go on Jeopardy and hopefully win some money. I googled Jeopardy and a bunch of reality shows came up. Turns out I missed the deadline for Jeopardy, but some of my sorority sisters saw something for The Voice and said “you should audition for this, it would be funny for everybody.” I wasn’t a singer; the most I did was karaoke on Wednesday nights after I had enough Miller Lite in me (laughing)! But, I took them up on the dare. Long story short I auditioned for season 2 and ended up on the show which needless to say, was a life changing event for which I am so grateful. I have friends who wanted to sing since they were little and they would have given their left leg for what I was given. I have taken everything very seriously and made the decision to go with what I was given and earn everything else.
It’s really ridiculous how this all happened, but it’s the farthest thing from easy. In the two and a half years since the show, I have been very blessed, but I have been working my butt off, seizing every opportunity and continuing to grow. It’s really, really exciting when the work pays off. My background in marketing and business have helped too. Our partnerships with different corporations have helped give us an infrastructure and a viability.
You have done some really interesting things partnering with companies to get the music out to people. How involved were you in developing those partnerships?
Off the bat I was very involved. Two years ago we partnered with Nissan and developed a plan together and we are currently doing something similar with Little Black Dress Wines. They want to move cases of wine and I like wine, so we wrote a song, and printed it out on ninety thousand bottles which will be sold at Kroger. I will go around, perform and do a bottle signing. We’re also putting together a guest bartending night which should be fun. It’s a different and fun way to do things. The power in some ways has shifted into the hands of the fans. You can get leverage on your own; you don’t necessarily have to have a label. I like building things on my own, and driving a concept. It keeps me on my toes and the nice thing is I don’t have to wait for someone else to tell me I can be successful. It’s an innovative way to release music without having to drop sixty thousand dollars on an album and then not have a way to promote it. We are about six months into it and I’ve seen the weight it does carry. My biggest fear would be looking back in a year and not having elevated my presence or doing all of this work and losing it all because I put it in someone else's hands. I want to take these opportunities and continue to grow my career; not simply ride on the current publicity. I wear seventeen hats most days, but I am learning a lot and getting smarter. Plus, I am surrounded by such cool people. I am enjoying the journey.
In addition to these partnerships, you have a new album, Like This, coming out this month. What can you tell us about it?
Like This is an independent release that is available for pre-order right now and it will be released May 19th. The record has seven songs including a bonus track of "Hallelujah," a song which really means something to me.
The current single is “Stay At Home Soldier,” which I wrote with Chad Raymon, Billy Dawson and Rob Bironas, whom we recently lost. It was a unique experience for me being able to release something for other people. It’s not just a break up song, which are cool too, but it’s something for the people that live that military lifestyle. It’s stuff like this that takes us back to the genesis of why we do this in the first place--which is to affect people. When bad things happen I can’t fight or bring somebody’s brother, husband or son back, but what I can do is write a song that might help them to heal, forget or meet them wherever they are at. We do the best we can to honor our heroes, but you know it’s just as hard to stay behind as it is to leave. We talked about what that conversation would look like and thought about how we would enter that space. From there, the melody of the song flowed very naturally.
That song enabled us to partner with some cool people and make the video for it which has been really well received. We’ve also created a line of cute, trendy clothing for the stay at home soldier. We have had a good response to that on social media. Eventually we would like it to run as a stand-alone business and then through that endeavor, people will inadvertently find out about me and my music.
That clothing line sounds like a terrific idea. You seem very involved with the military, do you have a personal connection?
Both of my grandparents were around during the Korean War and WWII. I have their stories and especially those of my grandma. My grandfather was involved with the war and my grandma didn’t know whether he was alive or dead. I also have friends who are in the military and it’s petrifying.
The biggest part of this though is my own education regarding the military and what they deal with on a daily basis. I’m early my 20’s and people my age and younger are growing up with what the media tells us about guns and the military; that’s what they’re going to know and that’s kinds of terrifying. I want to find a way to modernize millennial military support. This issue is much bigger than me; I want this song to have a platform to affect more people than just those who know who I am, because that’s just nominal. This has been a big learning experience, but it’s also been empowering and humbling for me to be allowed to be a part of this conversation.
Are there any plans to visit the troops?
I’m going to Orlando and Tampa. The Facebook messages and stories from wives, sons, and even vets really have been eye opening, but I'm trying to prepare my heart for what this looks like. I’ll be meeting wounded warriors, visiting bases and hearing their stories. I really want to open the conversation.
i wanted to go back to the album once more. Singing was something that was an undiscovered talent, was writing as well?
I was kind of a depressed poetry writer; it was how I emoted. I wasn’t really any good and didn’t write anything viable, but I started working with, and learning from, the best writers. It is a process to learn that craft just like you would learn to play guitar. There was a learning curve, but I’ve really grown and am proud of it.
All of the songs on the record are originals that I either wrote or co-wrote. It’s such a blessing that what we have can go from concept to creation to the soundboards and then we can play it live and have people sing it back to you. I’m really excited to release this project and see what people think.
You are also a part of a book How They Sell Music. What can you tell us about it?
Most people don’t know I’m behind it, but I created it. It’s a result of moving here [Nashville] and figuring out how do this thing. The Voice broke down barriers, but I wanted to know what you do after that. If you’re not in Nashville you have to go online where you’ll find information, which can be from ex-industry people or bloggers, not people who have actually done it. The book was a two year process with twelve artists and their teams. You’ll read stories from someone like Cody Canada, who ate mustard sandwiches for two years, and spent more money than he made; and you have to wonder “how did they pull that off?” I want them to tell how they did it without moving to Nashville and getting a deal: walk me through this, tell me where you messed up and advise me what to do.
Sounds like a wonderfully innovative idea! When will the book be available?
I’m aiming to open up pre-orders May 14th and have a full launch on June 2nd. When you pre-order you’ll be sent two chapters digitally, Bubba Sparxxx and Peter Hollens.
Being that you have such a full plate, what do you do in your free time?
My boyfriend says my hobby is my work, but you know this isn’t work to me; this is all I love! I guess my hobby is my little mini pig who is oinking at my feet right now!
For more information visit her official website
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Pre-order Like This here
To watch the video for "Stay At Home Soldier" and learn more about the Stay At Home Soldier Project visit www.stayathomesoldier.com