The past year has given plenty of reasons to be down, luckily though, Taylor Hughes isn’t looking for or relying on them. She prefers to look at things with a glass-half-full mentality, and in the case of her new single, releasing this Friday, it’s a whiskey glass.
Hughes’ sophomore single, “Prayin’ to the Whiskey,” follows a string of successes for the Kentucky native, which includes the release of her debut single, “Good Taste” last April, a successful tour that has continuously been extended, continued to hone her guitar and songwriting crafts, among others, all culminating in “Prayin’ to the Whiskey,” which sees Hughes doubling down on her country-rocking sound and releasing the first song she wrote when she moved to Music City three years ago.
We caught up with Hughes to chat about the response she received from “Good Taste,” staying busy during the pandemic, all about “Prayin’ to the Whiskey,” her plans for 2021 and more!
Pro Country: You released your debut single, “Good Taste” in April of 2020. In the time since its release, what has the response from fans, friends and family meant to you?
Taylor Hughes: It’s crazy to think I released my first single back in April; time really does fly! Since my debut single release, the response from fans, family and friends has been unbelievable. I have been blessed to have support from them since I started my career, but I know they were dying for me to release music. I’ve been doing this for quite some time now, and the fact that they all stayed along for the ride and still are means more than they could ever know. I always want to bring my fans the best music possible; if it wasn’t for their love, encouragement and continued belief in me, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. My fan base has grown like crazy; not just here in the states, but all over the world! I have people in the UK and Australia asking when I’m coming over to do a tour?! There’s nothing I’d love more than to travel and meet these amazing fans of mine. Hopefully we can make that happen sooner rather than later.
PC: The last time we talked, you mentioned that your plans were to release two additional singles in 2020. How much did COVID and live performances largely being cancelled change your plans? How important is it to have fluidity in your plans?
TH: I think I can speak for the majority of us artists when I say that COVID really did a number on us! Like most artists, I did have several shows and events cancelled throughout the year. I had made game plans that didn’t go as I had hoped, but I was able to roll with the punches. I really surprised myself with how hard I was willing to work to keep this dream of mine going. I worked on new skills like guitar, dived into live streaming (which helped my fan base grow like crazy), wrote more songs and put my focus on things I didn’t think I had time for in the past, for example, the business side of the music industry. I’m the kind of person that likes some structure, but I’m also capable of going with the flow and just taking on whatever life throws at me. God has a plan, and I believe everything happens for a reason. You’ve just gotta have faith that it will all work out!
PC: Why did you feel that your new single, “Prayin’ to the Whiskey,” was the right follow up to “Good Taste”?
TH: There are a handful of reasons why I decided “Prayin’ to the Whiskey” should be my next single. First being that it was the first song I wrote when I moved to Nashville a little over three years ago. It’s kind of my “signature” song; a lot of friends, fans and co-writers know this one and were kind of surprised it wasn’t the first one I released. Secondly, this song is special to me because I wrote it with my dad. Not only is it exciting for me to be releasing more music, but it’s also a little introduction for my dad to the music world. He doesn’t have one musical bone in his body, but the man can write! [laughs]. We’ve actually written quite a few songs together. Music for me is a family business; always has been and always will be. My family went through a lot this past year; dealing with cancer, deaths of loved ones and not being able to see each other for long periods of time because of COVID. The fact that I can celebrate releasing music with my dad makes this mean so much more. “Prayin’ to the Whiskey” is also just a badass song; I think it really shows who I am as an artist!
PC: Can you talk about the inspiration behind “Prayin’ to the Whiskey”?
TH: The inspiration behind the song is kind of funny. My family is very big into celebrating things, and of course being from Kentucky, we like our bourbon and whiskey. My dad and I were sitting down to write and just talking about all the fun times we had had at past events like tailgating and holiday parties. This led into sharing personal experiences and memories from when we were both in college. Not going to lie, the Hughes family knows how to party! Both of us are also pretty strong in our faith, raised Catholic, and we thought it might be kind of cool to incorporate that somehow. Let’s face it, I think we all (at least at one point in our lives) struggle with doing the “right thing,” and just wanting to party and have some fun, especially in college. No one is perfect; we all have our vices.
PC: Both “Good Taste” and “Prayin’ to the Whiskey” sound made for the stage. How much thought do you put into the performing aspect of your music when you’re recording in the studio?
TH: My goal when performing for a live audience is to always bring energy, fun, excitement and just to entertain the crowd as much as possible. I LIVE for the stage; it’s where I feel most at home, and performing live is one of my favorite parts of my job. It’s important that the songs I write and sing portray that too. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE me a super sad country song (hence my all time favorite song being “Tin Man” by Miranda Lambert) and I enjoy writing that kind of material. But I also believe that if fans are going to spend not only their time, but their hard earned dollar on a show, I better make it the best time of their life. It’s all about having fun and sharing our love for music together!
PC: With live performances largely being cancelled, how have you been able to stay busy? What has the adjustment been like for you?
TH: I’ve honestly been super lucky despite how much things have changed for the music industry. Yes, the first few months of quarantine were unusual, and at times hard to handle, but I’ve been back to performing live since August of 2020. I’ve been very fortunate to still be booking shows, playing live and seeing some of my fans. I’ve managed to stay very busy, and I’m currently on a Kentucky Acoustic tour with my good friend Audra Mclaughlin. I’m unbelievably thankful to all the venues and sponsors that have continued to work with me and support me. I refuse to let this pandemic stop my world from turning, and I’m determined to succeed and reach all my goals; even if I have to find or learn new ways of doing so. I’m also still writing, working on guitar and vocal skills, learning how to use social media more, working on the business side, and have even started working on another passion of mine; the fitness industry. I’ve started repping for a few different nutrition companies and fitness apparel lines. Fun fact, I would love to one day have my own fitness line like Carrie Underwood.
PC: Of the things you can control, what are your plans for 2021?
TH: I truly do have high hopes for 2021. So far, it’s been amazing. I’ve been on the road playing shows since the beginning of the year, writing with new and old friends, and releasing music! My plan is to just keep this momentum going. Keeping booking shows; our tour keeps getting extended because it’s going so well and new venues are wanting to be a part of it! I want to push “Prayin’ to the Whiskey” as hard as I can, grow my following and meet as many fans as I can, I want to keep on writing and have plans on releasing another single, but I also just want to enjoy this process more. If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s to not take the blessings I have for granted. I’ve been given a gift and I plan to use it to the best of my ability, but I also need to have fun while I’m doing it (not be so hard on myself.) I mean, how many people can say they are truly doing what they love to do and call it their career?
PC: Is there anything you’d like to add?
TH: I just want to thank you, my family, friends and country music fans for your support. Some of you have been here from the start, some are just now discovering me, but no matter when or how y’all found me, you’ve made it clear you’re along for the ride. I couldn’t do this without you, and I hope to make everyone proud. I can’t wait for y’all to hear “Prayin’ to the Whiskey” and I hope you’ll save it, share it, stream it, jam to it in your cars, and even drink a good glass of bourbon while you listen to it.
*Pre-save “Prayin’ to the Whiskey” here*