#LetTheGirlsPlay: Kasey Tyndall Making the Most of Her Keith Urban Moment
Kasey Tyndall's first Nashville co-write was fruitful and terrifying. It wasn’t at first — at first, she just thought she was sitting down with some guy her manager knew from back home in Raleigh, N.C. It was a casual "do this while I’m in a meeting" kind of thing, set up before she moved to Nashville.
Nick Autry was the other writer, and at the beginning he mentioned in passing that his buddy Doug wanted to join them. The trio wrote "Babydoll" together, a song that blusters at the idea of being anyone’s arm candy. Tyndall says she was amazed by how these two men could capture her point of view so effortlessly. Until then, she says, she’d written with someone else exactly never. But to be fair, the the songwriting scene in eastern North Carolina isn’t spilling over with talent.
“Halfway through the write,” Tyndall says, recalling the instant her really 'casual' hang became really not, “Mr. Doug had to step out for a minute, and Nick’s like ‘Do you know who that is?’”
“I was so nervous after that,” Tyndall admits, gushing with conviction. And yes, she did call him “Mr. Doug.” That’s kind of her thing, but anyone raised in the South will recognize it. “Mr. Dave” is her manager, and she says both men’s names with respect and reverence instead of the sass and flare one would expect from a girl who prefers leather to denim and Avril Lavigne to Vanessa Carlton. Well, she may like Carlton too, but when you see her you understand her style is more “Sk8er Boi” than “A Thousand Miles.”
Alison Krauss, Joan Jett, Rhonda Vincent and Heart are other female artists who’ve helped shape April’s #LetTheGirlsPlay artist. She describes herself as a country rocker and she can command a honky-tonk crowd. But she enjoys writing ballads. One song that really resonates with fans is called “Everything’s Texas,” and yes, it’s about a guy who broke her heart. Fans often cheer before her first verse is finished.
“After he broke up with me, everything was Texas,” she says with the slightest taste of bitter sprinkled over her brand of empowerment. “License plates in places I’d never thought I’d see a Texas license plate and a lot of them. I was like ‘OK, let’s just make this even harder for me.’”
“A good song came out of it and I think that’s why I was meant to date that loser," she adds.
Fellow Song Suffragettes artists Lena Stone and Lainey Wilson helped Tyndall pen that song. She’s a regular at the Monday night shows, even though she’s only been in Nashville a year. “Mr. Dave” convinced her to drop out of the nursing program at Eastern Carolina University to move to Music City. They met because of “Mr. Keith.” As in ... Keith Urban.
In 2014 and 2015, Urban toured the country singing songs from his Fuse album. “We Were Us,” his duet with Miranda Lambert, was popular, but Lambert couldn’t join him on stage each night. So he allowed radio stations to hold a contest to pick his duet partner. WQDR in Raleigh opened the contest, Tyndall won, performed, and became a local sensation in a town that loves its local country flavor (Jason Michael Carroll and Scotty McCreery grew up on ‘QDR).
Suddenly bars and clubs — some she couldn't get into legally as a patron — wanted to book Tyndall. Pre-Keith she didn’t believe she stacked up to the local artists, let alone those destined for fame in Nashville. Music was a nice hobby.
Post-Keith … well, she didn’t really have time to think about that.
“My first year of college I had three jobs and was going to school,” Tyndall recalls with equal parts angst and smiles. “And after the Keith Urban thing I added shows on top of that. It was tough.”
Her road to Nashville hasn’t been paved with $20 bills and lucrative contracts. She’s signed with William Morris and they book her shows nationwide. But in some cases, her band stays behind to save money. She still has a part-time job doing catering to cover costs, and she’s hopeful she can save enough money soon to bring an old friend to see her. Her name is Susie, and she’s special.
Susie is Tyndall’s 2001 Chevy Silverado Z71. Her grandfather gave it to her before he began to really show the ill effects of Frontotemporal Dementia. He died when she was just 14 years old and told her father to hold the truck for her.
It’s the truck you think it is, full of stories and dings and chips and charm. Tyndall wrecked it once, but it wasn’t her fault. At just 5-foot-1, she can blame her genes.
“It doesn’t have electric seats so I have to sit on a cushion,” she says before explaining how she wrapped it around a pole. “Not a booster chair, but a good cushion, a few inches thick.”
But now she can see, and while she’s still finding friends and the confidence to take her to the next level of success, her line of sight isn't impeded by self-doubt, business savvy or a steering wheel.
Watch Kasey Tyndall Sing "Remember My Name"