Kylie Frey is ready to leave her mark on the country scene. The former rodeo queen turned burgeoning country star began singing at the age of five, performing the national anthem at rodeo events. It wasn’t until high school, however, that Frey considered music and songwriting as a career path.
Inspired by ’90s country artists like Wynonna Judd, Pam Tillis, Patty Loveless and Shania Twain, Frey wanted to bring her authenticity to the forefront. Her determination helped her land two Top 10 hits on the Texas Regional Radio Report Chart. She would later earn her first No. 1 with “Rodeo Man.”
With new confidence, the Louisiana native moved to Nashville, where she scored two more top hits on the Texas Regional Radio Report Charts, including her collaboration with Randy Rogers, “Too Bad,” and 2018’s “Ain’t Enough Beer.” Frey was also handpicked by her idol Twain to compete on the inaugural season of USA Network’s Real Country.
Frey is now promoting her latest single, “One Night in Tulsa,” which she co-wrote alongside, Thom McHugh (Kenny Chesney, Trace Adkins) and Neal Coty (Blake Shelton, Craig Morgan). Frey caught up with Country Now to chat about her current single, unique upbringing and musical experiences.
Find out more about Kylie Frey in our exclusive Q&A below.
Melinda Lorge: What made you want to pursue a career in country music?
Kylie Frey: I grew up doing rodeos. So I tied goats and roped calves as a rodeo queen. I always tell people I didn’t choose country music, it chose me. When I started singing and playing the guitar, I knew it wasn’t a choice. Then, when I got older, I started writing songs. I figured I wouldn’t make much money goat-tying. My heart switched up on me and it led me to what I’m doing now.
Lorge: How did your parents react when your passions shifted?
Frey: My parents were wonderful. My dad grew up rodeoing, and he was always intrigued by it because I was the first one to pick up a guitar and sing. They loved having a kid that did something new and different. My dad was the one who convinced me to quit college and go for it.
Lorge: Has rodeo life played a role in your songwriting?
Frey: It’s always good to write what you know, and rodeo was my whole childhood and my life growing up. So it creeps into my songs probably more than it should, but it’s real and it’s true. I couldn’t be on stage if it weren’t for my upbringing and the hard work and dedication that the sport of rodeo taught me.
Lorge: What’s the inspiration behind your song “One Night In Tulsa?”
Frey: That’s kind of a true story. I was going to go to Oklahoma City to meet up with some friends from California and I was looking at the map. I wanted to see how far Nashville was from Oklahoma City. That’s when Tulsa popped out at me. I wrote down the title “Two Nights in Tulsa” because I thought it sounded cool and had alliteration. Then I brought it up in a write with Thom McHugh and Neal Coty, and Thom threw out, “I’d ride a buck wild mustang bareback with no reins.” We just took off from there, and realized that the title was, “One Night In Tulsa” because you’d do anything for one night with someone you love, especially when you have to leave.
Lorge: Did you write that song about anyone in particular?
Frey: It was a potential love. I was talking to a guy out in California, and it was one of those things that if we lived near each other, we would probably be dating. He came to the middle of the country, and I was going to meet him there. I didn’t go, but I wanted to so bad!
Lorge: You moved to Nashville from Louisiana three years ago. What were your first few months here like?
Frey: I had just turned 21, so I was hanging out around Midtown, going to as many writers rounds as I could, meeting as many songwriters as I could and hearing as many songs as I could. Since I was not going to college, I was taking everything very seriously. Music was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and I treated Nashville like my college experience.
Lorge: As a songwriter, what is your creative process like?
Frey: A lot of imagination is involved in the creative process because when you try to write a story based on true events, it can box you in. Jessi Colter brought that to my attention. I read her book and she talked about stories that are made up that you’ve never lived. If you can draw from them a real emotion from a real place in your heart, then that’s what makes for great songs. I carried that with me. “One Night In Tulsa” is a true story mixed with an idea for a great song.
Lorge: Can you tell me about your collaboration with Randy Rogers?
Frey: I grew up listening to Randy Rogers, so that was incredible. When this song came about, I was working with my producer, who was saying, “Let’s figure out a way to not make this a duet because you’re a solo artist, and we’re trying to break you out.” So we tried that, and it just didn’t work out that way. So he suggested Randy Rogers, and I was like, “Absolutely!” Randy was in! It was great to get to work with such a seasoned and successful veteran in the music business.
Lorge: Another big highlight for you was competing on USA Network’s Real Country. What was your takeaway from that experience?
Frey: It was a great experience for me to see how a big production comes together. It made me step it up as far as stage presence goes. Shania Twain was also very complimentary about being a strong and independent female, and that’s what she loved about me. The show made me look at myself and say, “That’s me, own it and run with it.”
Lorge: It seems like you’ve had a lot of incredible experiences so far in your career. What would you consider to be your biggest highlight?
Frey: Opening for Cody Johnson was really big for me, actually. It was on my bucket list, so I’m grateful for that. We got to do a couple of dates with him and I’ve always been a big fan. I love how he does his thing and is himself. Getting to be behind-the-scenes of his show, and seeing how intentional he is from beginning to end, is inspiring. Sometimes being an opening act, you’re left to do your thing, but with Cody, every single aspect of the show, even when it doesn’t involve him, is still important.
Lorge: What’s next for you?
Frey: I’m planning on putting out an EP at the beginning of 2020 and continuing to hit the road.
Fans can keep up with Kylie Frey on Instagram.