If she had dreamt it up, we’re not sure Ariel Hutchins would have dared to dream up the last calendar year.
On October 16th of 2020, the Texas native released her debut single, “Wine Won’t Work.” Fast forward to October 16th of this year, and that song, as well as its follow up, “Showing Off,” a duet with Sundance Head, have reached number one on the Texas country charts, and her newest single, “The Cowboy He Will Be,” is quickly ascending the charts. To cap things off, she’s nominated for Female Artist of the Year at the Texas Country Music Awards, where she will also be performing.
We chatted with Hutchins about her career year, including her chart success, performing with some of Texas’s biggest names, her big plans for 2022 and more!
Pro Country: Who were some of your earliest musical influences that have had an impact on your sound?
Ariel Hutchins: The traditional country artists like Willie, Dolly, Hank and Loretta gave me the foundation for my music, whether it be their approach to subject matter lyrically and musically, or whether it be the subject matter itself. Their references keep me grounded in what I consider to be pure country.
PC: Your bio mentions that you received a guitar for your 11th birthday and that you took to it very quickly. What was it about the guitar and music that connected with you so early in your life?
AH: I had a rough childhood. I was in and out of the foster care system and spent a lot of time in lonely places, physically and emotionally. That guitar literally gave me a voice and a place to be that felt safe and almost magical.
PC: When did that early interest in music translate into wanting to/realizing you could pursue music as a career?
AH: I’m not sure how conscious that decision was really. It wasn’t really like I pulled a trigger. It was a more natural, organic process. I’ve had a band since high school, and I’ve been performing since I was 16; but in terms of seeing and feeling a true career opportunity on a bigger, regional stage so to speak, I’d say my depth perception increased when my first single, “Wine Won’t Work,” and then my second single, “Showing Off,” both went to number one on Texas Radio. My third and current single, “The Cowboy He Will Be,” is inside the top 25 already, so I’m setting records on Texas Radio in my debut year. Plus, I have a smokin’ band and we’re getting big time bookings. So, a career in music is emerging as a real possibility!
PC: What emotions were you feeling as you were preparing to release music for the first time with your debut single, “Wine Won’t Work”?
AH: I had no expectations really. I just felt blessed that I was given a shot (out of nowhere) to record that song, and then I was amazed the songwriter wanted to release it to radio. The feelings started coming when it began its climb and I heard it playing on radio. I’d say the shock and awe still haven’t worn off, and I am extremely humbled by the window of opportunity that one song and the support that came with it has opened for me.
PC: “Wine Won’t Work” became your first number one single on Texas radio. What did it mean to you to come out of the gate with a song that reached number one and to tangibly see the support the song received from radio and fans?
AH: Quite literally, it meant everything, and then the challenge became one of putting out more great, chart-topping music. I don’t focus on the charting factor really now; I just want to do right by each song in the studio because our music lineup is amazing, and it’s my responsibility to deliver it all! I’m loving this ride! What a dream!
PC: You released a duet with Sundance Head called “Showing Off” that also reached number one in Texas. Can you tell us how collaborating with Sundance came to be and what it was like to work with someone with that level of talent?
AH: OMG! Sunny is a gift from God! My promoter, Dave Smith, introduced us, and the rest is history. Sunny produced that duet and recently, three more of my songs. We performed the duet together at Bacon Bash last weekend, and that was yet another milestone for me, actually sharing the stage with him. We’re performing at the Texas Country Music Association Awards next month. I cannot wait!
PC: Your newest single, “The Cowboy He Will Be,” is a song from a mother’s perspective as she watches her son embrace a cowboy/rodeo lifestyle. As a mother of three yourself, what does this song mean to you and your family?
AH: My kiddos are all under five, so they’re oblivious, and our life at home is chaotic as you might guess. but my husband is a saint and unbelievably supportive, as is the rest of our big extended family. I am so blessed with the support I have at home, because what we accomplish on the music front should be virtually impossible given the demands on the home front.
PC: You mentioned on social media recently that you were wrapping up the music video for “The Cowboy He Will Be.” How excited are you to share the music video and what was it like to film the video for such a heartfelt song?
AH: That video is something I will cherish until the day I die. I cannot wait to share it. It was a family project really. We have an amazingly talented (and patient) videographer, and he captured the essence of that song. We all teared up watching the rough, it’s raw and it’s all us.
PC: You’re nominated for Female Artist of the Year at the Texas Country Music Awards in just a few weeks. What does it mean to you to be nominated for an award of that nature amongst your peers in the Texas scene?
AH: It feels surreal. It’s been an unbelievable year, and this truly caps it off. Bri Bagwell is a great friend, and we’re writing together. I love the other girls and respect their talent. They’re trailblazers, really. I’m just grateful and humbled to be in their company, and I’m excited to be performing that night. Like I’ve said, it’s been an unbelievable year!
PC: Your band has opened for major artists like Kevin Fowler, Stoney Larue and William Clark Green. What can you take away from those experiences that can help you moving forward?
AH: We get up on those stages and look out at those fans and just try to take it all in. And then we give it the biggest and best sound we have and try to knock it outta the park. I really feel like my band was born to do this. We are working hard every week to up our game, and I’m really proud of the show we put on. I’d love it if we could headline and draw 5,000 people! That’s the goal!
PC: Of the things you can control, what are your plans for the rest of 2021 and going into 2022?
AH: I have some big bookings, dream bookings, coming up that I have to work hard to prepare for. I also have some important fundraisers scheduled. I’m a foster care advocate, so we do a lot of fundraising gigs. And the music we have lined up for radio next year will be fun to watch the response to. I want to grow our fan base next year, so there’s a lot of focus planned on social media and gigging in addition to radio releases. We just want to put our music out there one way or the other and inspire everyone to be passionate about their talents and follow their dreams.
PC: Is there anything you’d like to add?
AH: I have a team I wish every artist could be blessed with. I don’t know how all this talent found me and began believing in me, or why they sacrifice so much of their time and energy on my behalf, or even why they’ve committed for the long haul. I love each one of them. I am surrounded by the best in the business, and I pinch myself every day. Family, friends and music! What more could a girl ask for?
*Ariel’s music is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!*