A bright young career took a major step into the limelight on January 10.
With the release of her debut self-titled EP, West Virginia native Joanna Young made quite the first impression to the traditional country music community.
The five song EP, filled with stories of love and honkytonking and dripping with steel guitar and fiddle, is reminiscent of the great 80s and 90s artists that came before Young, giving a breath of fresh air to fans of real country music.
Now, hear from Young about all of the songs on the EP, as well as her influences, how she overcame stage fright, and more!
Pro Country: Who were your biggest musical influences?
Joanna Young: Growing up, I heard all types of music. I really leaned more toward 80s and 90’s country though. Just the pureness in the music and how it told a story, it meant something. Keith Whitley, Dolly Parton, George Strait & Vince Gill are just a few of my favorites.
PC: Was there a specific moment you knew you wanted to make music for a living?
JY: Music is something that runs in my family. They will tell you I could sing before I could talk. It’s just something I’ve always had a passion for. I love being in front of a crowd and entertaining. But when I was a little girl, I used to have the biggest stage fright. My grandmother would pay me a quarter for every time I would get up and sing in church. So I lost that fear real quick! Haha!
PC: “Help Me Mama” showcases a southern rock sound, while the rest of the EP leans more towards a traditional country sound. Was it at all important for you to showcase some versatility in your sound on your debut EP?
JY: It was important to me to showcase that side of myself. I love all types of music, but what really sold me on this song were the lyrics. I’ve learned the story this song tells is one that a lot of people can relate to. And getting a message out like the one this song holds is very powerful.
PC: “Everything” sounds like a very personal song from the EP. Can you talk about this song?
JY: Honestly, If I had to have a favorite on this EP, it would definitely be “Everything.” I had the pleasure of having a good friend of mine, Korey Rose, sing background vocals on this song, and it really brought this it to life. It’s just a genuine love song. It really speaks from the heart.
A funny story about this song and probably the real reason I love it; the first time I ever played it live was the night I met my husband. I really think it was meant to be. This ended up being our song. I even surprised him and had this song playing as I walked down the aisle to him. So, this song is very dear to me.
PC: “Honkytonks and Heartaches” is a song that is very reminiscent of an 80s or 90s country song. Were you drawing from that era at all as you were recording that song?
JY: Absolutely! I’m a sucker for a good honkytonk song; something that makes me want to just get up a dance. A feel good, genuine country song. And I think we tried the best we could do put that through this song.
PC: “It’s You” one of the standouts from the EP. Can you talk about the writing process of that song?
JY: My producer actually presented this song to me, and the first time I heard it, I fell in love. The very talented Ashton Shepherd wrote this song; I believe when she was around 17 years old. What’s crazy is about the time I went to record this song, it related to what I was going through. That’s why I think it was a perfect match. She is amazing at what she does. I’m just lucky enough to have had the privilege of recording it.
PC: Your cover of “I’m Over You” ends the EP on an excellent note. Why did you choose this song as the cover on the EP, and how did Kevin Moon become involved in the recording?
JY: Keith Whitley is not only one of my all-time favorite artists, but my father’s as well. That’s who introduced me to his music. This song just so happens to be one of his favorites, so it was special that way for me.
Kevin Moon actually produced this entire project. We’ve been friends for a long time, and had always talked about recording something together. Choosing this song was easy, because we are both huge fans of Keith. We wanted to change it up just a bit, so turning it into a duet- that’s something I hadn’t heard anyone do before. It was a lot of fun recording it with him for sure!
PC: What do you hope people take away after listening to your EP all the way through?
JY: I hope they can relate. I’m very passionate about country music, specifically REAL country music. I hope they can hear that in this EP. Today I think people have strayed away from this sound. There are a lot of artists out there with a genuine country sound that never get heard and it’s a shame.
PC: What are your plans for 2019?
JY: I plan on getting out as much as I can to play music for people in as many different places as I can! I love meeting new people and playing new places and getting to share my love for the music.