Lainey Wilson: The Melody of Cowgirl Spirit

You don’t need to be a cowgirl to appreciate the music of Lainey Wilson. Her meteoric rise in the Nashville music scene over the past few years has won her critical acclaim and fans all over the world. But this Louisiana native is definitely a favorite of cowgirls everywhere. In addition to being an award-winning country singer and songwriter, Wilson has also starred in Yellowstone, Paramount Network’s hugely popular Western drama series. We here at Saltsy are hooked on Yellowstone and we’re huge fans of Wilson’s music, so of course we had to share her story in our Mermaids and Cowgirls series. Whether you’re just discovering this multitalented artist, or you’re already in the fan club, we think you’ll be inspired by Lainey Wilson’s story.

Early Life and Musical Beginnings

Lainey Wilson grew up in Baskin, Louisiana, a small town of just 250 people. From a young age, Wilson was a music fan, often listening to classic country songs with her family. At age nine, she attended a performance at the Grand Ole Opry, and it was this experience that sparked her desire to make her own music and perform on stage. With a little help from her father, she learned to play the guitar, and by her teens, she was writing her own songs.

Wilson released her first EP, Country Girls Rule, on My Space in 2006, and spent her high school years continuing to work on her music while also performing as a Hannah Montana impersonator at parties and events both locally and regionally.

Finding Her Voice

After high school, Wilson moved to Nashville, where she continued to work on her songwriting skills, while playing shows at small venues. Her musical style incorporates elements of both classic and contemporary country, as well as Southern rock and classic rock. Wilson cites Dolly Pardon and Lee Ann Womack as two of her biggest musical influences.

Between 2014 and 2018, she released two albums and a second EP, which caught the attention of Sony/ATV and led to a publishing deal. In 2018, she signed her first major record deal with BBR Music Group, and she released her first EP, Redneck Hollywood, with the label in 2019. The EP generated positive reviews and led to her being included in Country Music Television’s “2019 CMT Next Women of Country” tour.

Becoming a Country Star

In 2020, Wilson’s next single, “Things a Man Oughta Know” was released. This song became her breakout single, reaching number one on Billboard Country Airplay and number three on Hot Country Songs. It was included on the album Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin,’ which received positive reviews and made the Billboard Country Albums Chart.

In 2022, following the success of her latest album, Bell Bottom Country, Wilson received six nominations at the 56th Annual Country Music Association Awards. The following year, she received nine nominations and five wins, including the covered Entertainer of the Year Award. This made her the most awarded artist at the 2023 CMAs. Today, no one would argue the fact that Wilson has made her mark as a country music superstar, and she’s just getting started!

Wilson's Entertainer of the Year Award

Yellowstone Role

In 2022, Wilson showed fans that her talent goes beyond singing. She made her acting debut in season five of Yellowstone. Like Wilson, her character Abby is also a country singer, and she made her first appearance in the season five premiere, during John Dutton’s inaugural celebration as the new Governor of Montana. According to Wilson, the role of Abby was created specifically for her by the show’s co-creator, Taylor Sheridan, who thought her music resonated particularly well with the series. Fans of Wilson’s may also have recognized several of her songs that were featured throughout earlier seasons of Yellowstone.

Cowgirl Hall of Fame

And if her impressive collection of hit songs and CMA awards wasn’t enough, Wilson has also received recognition from the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. At their 47th Annual Induction Luncheon in 2023, Wilson received the Patsy Montana Entertainer Award, presented each year to a cowgirl whose contributions to the entertainment field best demonstrate and honor the tradition of the cowgirl spirit. It’s a fitting award for the woman who says that she grew up a cowgirl and learned perseverance while riding horses with her dad.

Latest Announcements: What’s Next for Wilson

Fans who are looking for more new music from Wilson won’t have long to wait. In May, she announced the upcoming release of her next album Whirlwind in August 2024. The lead single, “Hang Tight Honey” was also released in May. She has a packed tour schedule with shows scheduled throughout the US through the end of the year. If you’re interested in catching one of Wilson’s concerts, you can check out her schedule here or follow her on Instagram.

In the meantime, we’ll be waiting not so patiently for the new album release and rewatching Wilson on our favorite Yellowstone episodes in anticipation of the of the series finale this November. We’re excited to see what Wilson does next, but regardless of where her career takes her, we know that this cowgirl will be one to watch for a long time.

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