HAZARD—Kasey Lansdale, a young, rising country music star, made a stop at Hazard’s WSGS radio station on Thursday, July 10. The singer-songwriter has been on the road for most of the year, promoting her album, “Restless,” and its first single, “Sorry Ain’t Enough.”
“I love small towns,” Lansdale said. “I love to go to places like this, where everybody’s down on Main Street, waving to each other, and you walk into a place and they know what you’re going to order before you even do it. There’s something really charming about that. It’s just really warm and welcoming.”
Lansdale said she is a small-town girl herself, having been raised in the East Texas town of Nacogdoches. One of her good friends is Mika Combs, a Hazard native, who starred on Season 15 of CBS’s The Amazing Race and is also an aspiring singer. The two had talked about Hazard, and Lansdale said she was delighted to see it listed on her schedule.
Her music stands as a bridge between classic country and the new, but Lansdale said that her goal is not to bring back the styles of the past. She grew up listening to ’50s and ’60s country, to songs by Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, and Tammy Wynette, but she also stressed the importance of the influence she felt by Reba McEntire, Wynonna, and Martin McBride. In the end, she said she thinks that her vocal style became a blend of all of those decades of country music, producing songs that remind the listener of older country music — the “story songs” told so masterfully by the classic ladies of country — while also appealing to today’s audience.
“That’s what makes country music great,” Lansdale said. “It has that storytelling idea, and hopefully, the songs that I’m doing connect with people on that level.”
One big believer in Lansdale’s work is John Carter Cash, the son of Johnny and June. Cash and Lansdale connected through their love of writing fiction, and it wasn’t long before Cash suggested that she “take her project to the next level” by recording at the historic Cash Cabin Studio, Lansdale said.
“There’s so much history, so much Johnny Cash memorabilia, all the Carter family memorabilia, and you know you’ve been where so many greats have been,” recounts Lansdale. “It’s humbling and overwhelming, but, at the same time, very exciting, because even though there’s a kind of pressure there, you feel that you are in good company.”
“I’ve got good people helping me with this,” she added. “And it takes a village. It really does.”
But it’s clear that Lansdale herself is the driving force behind what she has achieved thus far. Coming from a creative family—both of her parents are successful writers—she was never taught to sit and wait for great things to happen. She began writing and singing at an early age, and she has been determined in the pursuit of her dreams ever since.
“My mother says my life is a musical,” quips Lansdale.
And music is her life.
She studied the vocal styles of Reba McEntire, Etta James, Trisha Yearwood, and Fontella Bass for years. She challenged herself to emulate what she heard, and soon, after so much hard work, she said she finally created her own unique sound.
“One day, you sort of look up and you’re not really any of them,” Lansdale said. “You just turn into you.”
After leaving Hazard, Lansdale said she’ll hit the road again, through Virginia and Long Island and New England. She’s taking her music to the people the old-fashioned way—face-to-face, going from station to station, asking them to listen.
Mindy Miller can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.