The release of Burn Brighter in 2019 was a big deal for Vanessa Lynn Bird. Not only did it serve as the introduction to her music for many, Bird’s debut EP also allowed her to find her voice and put things that matter to her into song.
In just under a year and a half since her debut EP was released, the experience of releasing her music into the world has been a cathartic one, and has allowed her to speak her truths in a new way.
“My Burn Brighter EP gave me a chance for the first time to begin talking to people about things that matter to me. Whether it was on social media or in face-to-face conversations, I had found myself afraid to talk about things I was going through. The moment I would try, both supporters and critics would jump to respond. Sometimes the most gentle way to communicate your message is to write a song and give people a chance to interpret it and think about what it means to them,” says Bird. “Burn Brighter allowed me to talk about issues like mental health/depression (‘Castaway’), judgement based on appearances (‘At the Heart’), loving someone you had to let go (‘Made to Forget’); all things I’ve gone through, but when I’d try to share them someone, they would immediately have an opinion and issue judgment over how I’d chosen to handle the situation.”
Looking to build off of that momentum, Bird is back with a new single, “Miss Texas,” that pays homage to her admiration of both Texas queens and the women in her life as she settled in to her new home in Texas as a child.
“I moved to Texas as a little girl, and it was a hard time for my family. Our finances were tight, me and my two brothers had left all our friends behind and my parents were doing everything they could to help us find joy in the middle of it. To be honest, I hated Texas at first because it was hot (we moved in August), and I was immediately bullied at my school. My mom and dad ended up homeschooling me and my brothers. Over time, Texas began to win me over. When April rolled around and I saw fields of bluebonnets for the first time, I couldn’t help but start falling in love. Slowly, I met so many kind people that outweighed the unkind. I was a pageant girl for a short time as a pre-teen, and it brought me out of my shell. I finally began to feel like I was worthy of having a voice and being confident in who I was. My mom saw how important it was to me and helped me put together my looks, practice for interviews and meet with sponsors,” says Bird. “Years later, I started meeting Texas queens at my performances and my experience came flooding back to me. I met Andrea Fox, Miss Texas US 2018, at the 2018 Texas Country Music Awards when I was backstage waiting to sing the National Anthem. I then met Alayah Benavidez, Miss Texas USA 2019, at the All American Bowl (again when I was singing the Anthem). The way these women set an example of grace and strength under pressure awed me, and I also noticed so many more strong women in my life acting as queens without the tiara and sash. This inspired me to write a song about the women I look up to in my life. My mom is my main inspiration, but I have many female friends of all ages who handle situations in a way I admire every day. I think it’s important to understand that none of us are perfect, but we can learn from one another’s strengths. In case you were wondering where I got the beautiful crown for my single photo from, it was lent to me by Audrey Hysler, Miss Helotes 2016; another one of these beautiful-inside-and-out women I met on my musical journey when I was performing at Cornyval in 2018.”
“Miss Texas” is a fresh sonic direction for Bird, leaning more on an acoustic, piano driven sound than much of Burn Brighter, and would not be out of place on a playlist comprised of Taylor Swift’s first several albums, something Bird says was intentional as she and her team brought the song to life.
“The sound of ‘Miss Texas’ was inspired by one of my icons, Taylor Swift. I can never pick a favorite album, but Red came out at a time in my life when I really needed it, and it crossed my two favorite genres in just the right quantities (Country and Pop). With ‘Miss Texas’ we attempted to expand on that sound with a slight Texas twist. My dear friends Julia Hatfield and Gabe Garces helped me put the finishing touches on this song and really took it to the next level with their co-writing. Producer Mack Damon brought the whole thing to life with piano and synthesized string arrangements he played himself; Gabe laid down all the guitars, and Julia performed background vocals.”
As nomination time comes around again for the Texas Country Music Association Awards, Bird is again eligible for “Female Artist of the Year,” and is also eligible for “Entertainer of the Year.” Bird says a nomination at this year’s awards would show that the music she is making is touching the hearts of the people she is making it for.
“I had the honor of being a top five finalist for Female Vocalist of the Year in the 2018 TCMA Awards. In a sense, that’s what started this journey towards writing ‘Miss Texas,’ because that’s when I met Andrea, and it made me start thinking,” says Bird. “For me, a nomination would mean that people are taking notice of what I’m doing, and that perhaps my message is resonating with them and hopefully striking a chord in their hearts.”
While 2020 has brought about newfound downtime for artists, Bird is staying busy writing and preparing the release of new music.
“It breaks my heart not to be on stage. My performances have either been canceled or postponed at this point. During this time, I’ve been taking to my piano writing new songs, and my band and I put together a video for ‘Miss Texas’ from each of our homes,” says Bird. “I’ve actually been working on a new album since April last year, and I’ve been recording the songs with producer David Dorn at Farmland Studios in Nashville. Some of that work is on hold right now, but I do have brand new music queued up and ready for release. I can’t wait to share the new music, because now more than ever, I’m sharing my most vulnerable thoughts and hoping that my perspective helps encourage someone.”
*Images courtesy of Vanessa Lynn Bird*
*Read our first interview with Vanessa here*