One freethinking Nashville singer is putting another notch, or two, in the Bible Belt. We see you, TAD. Raw and real.
'Ride or Dyes' fans of rising country singer/songwriter Taylor Austin Dye describe her songs as "badass, confident, amazing, and touchingly down-to-earth." Originally from Booneville, Kentucky, she says her brand of in-your-face music comes straight from her rowdy country roots.
"I love high-energy shows, and that's what we deliver. Our music could be considered rawk. Fans tell us it also 'hits the feels,'" she says.
Steeped in tones of Southern soul, honky-tonk, rockabilly and progressive country, with a blend of rock/folk rhythms, country instrumentation and introspective lyrics, Taylor sings from the heart in an authentic way that instantly tugs at listeners' heart strings. With her husband, Ben Williamson, as drummer and fellow songwriter, their style of rawk pop and indie country music is based on a strong bass line, amplified instruments and Taylor's poignant storytelling.
Taylor was performing music by the time she was 5 years young. She says she sang in church and was part of a Bluegrass band. She studied classical music in college. She participated in bands that played festivals and fairs. She also gave lessons in guitar, fiddling, mandolin and even clogging. "I always knew I wanted to be involved in music in some way."
In Central Kentucky, Taylor hosted a drive-time show at Songbird Radio from 3-6 p.m. "I developed loyal listeners and built a super cool fan base," she says.
"Live music is really where my heart lies. I knew 100% that I wanted to tour. And, when I was younger, I begged my parents to let me move to Nashville. The minute I got the chance to relocate to Music City, I was there," she says, adding that there's nothing like being with like-minded people who are chasing the same goal.
She says all the talent stemming from Broadway's ambiance is inspirational. She used to do five to 12 shows there a week, and still sits-in when other artists ask her to and her schedule allows.
Earlier this year, Taylor and the band produced several hit singles that gained widespread attention worldwide among audiences of all age levels. Big news is she and the band are releasing their first album on Sept. 22. Called "Out Of These Hills," she says the album reflects many hometown aspects of Eastern Kentucky.
"The album has nine tracks on it, including 'Bible Belt,' 'Rest In Peace' and a new one about my dad who passed, 'The Green Truck,' she announces. “I grew up in one of the poorest counties in the United States, and while there are amazing people and beautiful places, there's also a ton of crime and corruption that's often overlooked in Appalachia. I used ‘Bible Belt’ as a way to tell the very real story of people who just ‘do what they have to do’ to get out of their situation. It’s not something pretty, but their stories deserve to be told.”
Indeed, 'Bible Belt' has some hard-hitting lines. Drawing inspiration from a lady of the evening in her hometown providing for her child, Taylor says she felt comfortable being a storyteller and painting a real-life story, even if it didn't capture the most glamorous scenes.
"The recorded version of 'Bible Belt' was probably the fifth rendition. I actually wrote the bridge of that song on the way to the studio, while stuck in Nashville traffic," she says.
Additionally, Taylor says she's learning to process aspects of her own life through music and to be more vulnerable in sharing intimate details. For example, she didn't have the best relationship with the father, as the 'Green Truck' lyrics allude to, but as she learned, her fans totally related to that and felt her music applied to their own lives.
Taylor records at LEX Music Group, a studio located at the former Southern Comfort personal estate of icon Waylon Jennings. "The studio is where Waylon produced music, and has an incredible vibe. You can look up and almost expect to see him pouring whiskey in the corner. The whole ambiance there is spiritual," she assures.
"We're just getting started. I write songs four or five times a month, and already have some that didn't make it onto the album. We've been so inspired with responses from the Ride Or Dyes."