Lauren Watkins Captures Truth and Commonality on Debut EP

You’ve certainly heard the saying before: country music is about three chords and the truth. That truth is what allows us to feel one with an artist as they tell stories that evoke a similar emotion we have felt and truly allow us to put ourselves into our favorite songs.

Lauren Watkins grew up loving the stories of legends like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Patsy Cline, and when combining that love with modern day storytellers, began crafting songs that tell her truth. Over the last few years, she compiled a good handful of those songs, and now, is sharing them with the world on her appropriately-titled debut EP, Introducing: Lauren Watkins.

We chatted with Lauren all about her EP, as well as growing up in Nashville, signing her record deal, her success out of the gate and more!

Pro Country: Your bio mentions that you’ve drawn influence from singer/songwriters like Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, Miranda Lambert, Eric Church and Chris Stapleton. What was it about artists in that vein, and their way of telling stories in particular, that connected with you as a listener?

Lauren Watkins: I grew up listening to them, so they all feel nostalgic to me. When I look back on being in the car with my mom, she loved Sheryl Crow. Back then, I don’t even know that I was paying attention to what the words were saying, I just knew how they made me feel. I started listening to Willie Nelson in high school; I was really diving into the history of country music with artists like Willie, Waylon Jennings and Patsy Cline, and it was their storytelling that drew me in. I feel like Willie is in such a different vein in country than anybody else; he has a very old-school and raw way of saying things. Him and all of the outlaws did some crazy shit, and they all actually talked about it [laughs].

Today, it’s Chris Stapleton’s voice. We both have that gravel, but I am in no way comparing my voice to Chris Stapleton’s [laughs]. He really inspires me. I look up to the way he sings, and I try to mimic some stylistic things that he does.

PC: You were born and raised in Nashville. What was it like growing up so immersed in music, and how have you seen the city change as time has passed?

LW: It’s funny, I grew up here and spent 18 years here, and I left for four years to go to Ole Miss. When I came back, it kind of felt like a whole new city to me. It has changed and grown so much. It makes me a little nostalgic for the way things used to be, but it’s really cool to see the growth. Being in the music industry isn’t how I grew up; I grew up in a very normal, Nashville family. People think it’s very industry, but it’s really not. Now, I feel like I’m getting to see the town in a whole new way. And being an adult contributes to that too [laughs].

PC: You’re currently signed to Big Loud Records, who are home to some of the brightest and most talented artists in country music. What is it like to have the belief from a label that is home to so much collective talent and to have them in your corner?

LW: It’s really cool! It’s really inspiring, because I look up to everybody that’s on the roster, and I have for a long time; before they even knew who I was. It makes me want to keep going. I watch the careers of everybody here and how they handle it all. I try to be half as good as they are and work just as hard.

Photo by Chris Hornbuckle

PC: As release day for your EP, Introducing: Lauren Watkins was approaching, what emotions were you feeling as you were preparing to release music for the first time and present songs that span your life over the last few years?

LW: It might be a generic way of saying it, but I was really excited! People keep asking me if I was nervous. I think there were some low-grade nerves, because I want people to like and relate to these songs, but mainly, I was excited. I feel like even though I wrote these songs over the last few years, it’s been in the making for my whole life, because every experience has led to this. There’s been a lot going on; I feel like I haven’t even had a second to take it all in, which is probably good, because I’ve just been rocking and rolling along [laughs].

PC: Why did you and your team feel that “Shirley Temple” and “Camel Blues” were the right songs to serve as the first taste of your EP and as an introduction to the project?

LW: All my life, when I thought about putting music out, I thought I was going to be wracking my brain for hours about the order we would release things. Honestly, when it came down to it, we realized that those two were the most honest and unique perspectives. I wanted them to stand out, and I wanted people to see the titles and think “what is this about? I want to click on it.” 

They’re also both really, really real. Every single person has felt the emotions of “Shirley Temple,” and they’re lying if they say otherwise [laughs]. 

PC: “Ole Miss” is a song you co-wrote with Adam James and Mikey Reaves and is our favorite song on your EP. Can you take us in the room and talk about how the song came together?

LW: I had just met the two of them for the first time that day. We were sitting around getting to know each other, and they got me talking about Ole Miss, which I could go on about all day, because that’s where I went to school, and loved every second of it. I started going on and on about how much I missed it and how much I missed my friends, and Adam said he had a thought as I was talking about missing Ole Miss about “the same Ole Miss you feeling.” I said “that is what we’re writing.” Once we had the hook, it was really about going through my stories and all of the places that mean something to me from Oxford, Mississippi, and it came together into the song.

PC: You’re currently sitting at nearly 50,000 monthly listeners, well over 100,000 streams and being featured on several curated playlists on Spotify. In the week since your EP was released, what has it been like for you to tangibly see the support that it’s received out of the gate?

LW: It’s been really cool! I’m trying not to pay too much attention to the numbers, because I don’t want to get too caught up in it, but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t checked. It’s done exactly what I wanted it to do in the first week or so. The support I’ve gotten from both people I’ve never met and people I’ve known for years and hearing how they connect with the songs has been so cool. One of the things that really gets me is that there are a lot of Ole Miss freshman, and even some seniors in high school that want to go to Ole Miss, that reach out and say that they’re already nostalgic about the memories they haven’t even made there yet. It really hits home to me, because that’s exactly what I wanted the song to do.

PC: With an EP title like Introducing: Lauren Watkins, what do you hope listeners take away from listening all the way through about who you are as an artist and songwriter?

LW: I hope they get a good taste and feel for who I am and that they want more, because we definitely have more coming. I want people to relate to the songs and to feel like I’m just like them: I’ll say things that they’ve thought but didn’t know how to say.

PC: Your EP is being billed as a “seven-song teaser set.” With that said, and with you saying there’s more on the way, what information, if any, can you give about what will come next? What can listeners expect to hear?

LW: There’s not too much I can say [laughs]. I’ll just say that we’ve been working really hard on a lot of music. I’ve been writing so many songs, and we have so much that we’re excited about showing that we couldn’t wait to put the first batch out and show people what we’ve been working on. Just trust that there’s more where that came from; maybe a bigger body of work. We’ll see what happens!

PC: Along with promoting your EP, what do you have planned for the rest of the year?

LW: Right now, we’ve got a lot of festivals on the calendar, so I’m super excited for that! We’re even going to Canada in August, and I’ve never left the country before, so it’s very exciting for me!

*Feature image by Claire Schaper*

**Lauren’s music is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!**


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: