When Kendall Beard released her debut album “All Around Girl” in 2013, she says she was just that, a girl.
When the American Idol alum released her sophomore album, “Here Comes Trouble,” Beard says she is a woman. She has become a better writer, better guitar player, and feels a new level of confidence in herself that she did not feel before.
As she prepares to release her next single in the next month, hear from Beard about her growth, her American Idol experience, her Love and Chaos project, and more!
Pro Country: Who were your biggest musical influences growing up?
Kendall Beard: I had so many! My parents raised me on soul music like Otis Redding and Irma Thomas. I would say my earliest country influences were Reba and Dolly! But as a teen, when I really started getting into pursuing music and performing at music venues, it was a Dixie Chicks, Jewel, Sheryl Crow, and Alanis Morissette. It was a big mix of styles, but those were the four that were always in my CD player, and I think you can hear a piece of each of them in my music today.
PC: Was there a specific moment you knew you wanted to make music for a living?
KB: When I got to perform at the Houston Livestock Show and rodeo for the first time in 1998.
PC: How did your opportunity to appear on American Idol come to be?
KB: People had been trying to get me to do the show for years. However, I was against it, because I knew of so many musicians that were way better than I was that had tried out and never made it past the first round. In 2002, I met my now husband, and he insisted I audition. I came home one day to find he had printed out all the audition papers, info, rules, etc. and put them on my counter. At the time, they only had two cities left where they were holding auditions, and one was Puerto Rico. So I was telling my dad about how I was thinking about auditioning, and he suggested we go to Puerto Rico, make a vacation about it, and just go for it. If I didn’t make it, then at least we were able to have a fun trip out of it.
PC: How surreal was it to stand on that stage in front of 3 music superstars and perform for millions of people on TV?
KB: Very very surreal; almost that you forget that there are that many people watching you. Because, at the time, the actual TV audience wasn’t all that big. So, when I was performing, it kind of felt like I was just singing to them. You forget about the millions that are on the other side of the camera that I couldn’t see. It was more nerve racking to be singing in front of all the judges than it was to think about the millions watching.
PC: What was the biggest thing you took away from the American Idol experience?
KB: I took away so much! As a person and an artist. We got to work with some of the best vocal coaches in the country, so they taught me a lot. Everything from vocal exercises to special herbs to take. Idol also taught me about how hard the music business is! You truly have to have very thick skin if you want to make it in this industry. It’s blood, sweat, tears, and long nights all the way.
PC: Were you feeling any pressure, internally or externally, as you were preparing to release music for the first time with the “All Around Girl” album?
KB: Sure, there was pressure, but it was more of excitement. After Idol, I was under contract with them for a year, so I couldn’t release anything or perform live during that time (that’s definitely the negative part of being on a show like that), so when I was finally out of that contract, I couldn’t wait to give my fans my music!
PC: The “All Around Girl” album featured a few different sounds, showcasing country, rock and pop songs on different tracks. How important was it for you at that time to have a level of versatility in your sound?
KB: “All Around Girl” was my first full-length album. I think I was just writing and creating music in whatever form it came out. I wasn’t like, “All these songs need to have the same sound.” It was more about me just doing “Me” for the first time, and however that song sounded, it sounded. However, I really hate labels. To me, it’s just about putting out good music. I think as long as you put out good music, people will relate to it and identify with it.
PC: “Here Comes Trouble” is one of the standout tracks on its album. What led you to name the album after that song?
KB: I think I chose it because it really set up the whole album. Also, I think it describes me and my songs and what I’m trying to do with my music. I wanted to push the envelope with this album. Be edgy and not afraid to take chances artistically. “Here Comes Trouble” is kinda my way of saying, “You can’t put me in a box, I’m going to speak the truth (even if you don’t like it) and let’s shake things up a bit.”
PC: “Rock This City” is a song that has connected with your fanbase. What do you think it is about that song that has struck a chord with listeners?
KB: I think it’s a really fun and empowering song! I think everyone can relate to the feeling of being underestimated as a person. I wrote this song after I entered a “Battle of the Bands” contest in Dallas. I was the only female-fronted band, and people basically laughed at me that I even entered. Well, we ended up winning the whole thing, and it was such a wonderful feeling!
PC: “Both Feet on the Ground” is a great tribute to your son. How important was it for you to pay tribute to him in that way?
KB: He has been the most amazing thing in my life! For his second birthday, I wanted to give him something that he could carry with him for the rest of his life. Something he could listen to and feel my love for him long after I’ve left this earth. I know he’s too young to understand right now, but he will one day.
PC: What does it mean to you to have that song connecting with people the way that it has?
KB: I wrote this song completely on my personal feeling, love, and wishes for my son. However, I think this is what we all wish for our children! It was amazing to be able to create a song that other people can use and play that gives words to express their feelings and emotions.
PC: How do you think you’ve grown between the “All Around Girl” and “Here Comes Trouble” albums?
KB: I’ve grown so much! I think as long as you are constantly working on your craft (whatever that may be), you can’t help but grow and get better. I’ve become a stronger writer. I’ve taught myself to play the guitar. I’m not nearly as worried about what people think as I used to be. I’m more confident as a person and an artist. When I put out “All Around Girl,” I was a girl. With “Here Comes Trouble,” I am a woman.
PC: What drew you and AJ to form Love and Chaos?
KB: Love and Chaos was really natural for us because AJ has produced both of my albums, and we had been writing together for years. We decided to do one song together called “Out of State, Out of Mind,’ and people fell in love with it! AJ was already playing in band, and we just kept writing, and people kept loving it. So, we felt we had something special and a special sound that we wanted to share.
PC: Is it almost cathartic to be able to showcase the rocking/singer/songwriter side of your music more with Love and Chaos?
KB: It’s amazing to have Love and Chaos as another artistic outlet. It’s really fun because the sound is different from my solo albums. AJ comes from a rock background, and I come from a country background, and together it is making a really fun, unique sound. Plus, to me, two heads are better than one. AJ and I both really push each other creatively to be better and make better music. I think Love and Chaos has made me grow as an artist more than I could have ever grown had I strictly stayed a solo artist.
PC: What are your plans for 2019?
KB: There are so many plans for 2019. I’ll be featured in “Austin Monthly” March music/SXSW music issue as “Up and coming artist to watch.” I’ll be playing Texas Music Magazine and Austin Monthly’s SXSW Showcase. I’m currently gearing up to release my next single to radio next month. I’ll also be back in the studio finishing our new Love and Chaos album, which is due out mid 2019.
*American Idol photo courtesy of americanidol.wikia.com*