Texas native Kaylee Rutland can toss aside the juggling act and finally tackle her career full-time. For the past four years, she’s balanced her pursuit of the country music dream with her studies at Belmont University in Nashville, majoring in Music Business. It wasn’t always easy, often performing shows at night with classes looming the next morning. The double duty also made it difficult to soak in events like the annual Country Radio Seminar, as the day sessions often interfered with her class schedule. But credit her solid work ethic. Amazingly, Rutland found enough time to join a mini-tour with RaeLynn in 2016 and release a six-song EP, “That Side of Me,” last year.
As of the start of 2018, the collegiate part of the equation is in the rear view mirror, as she completed her degree and graduated. And on this February day in Nashville, Rutland, appropriately enough, is attending Country Radio Seminar, which she’s attacking with a full slate of media interviews and a performance during the week. The personable young lady came armed with a couple of new projects, an acoustic track for her song “Trick Candle” from the EP and a new single, “Do You,” released on February 23rd.
Rutland had a hand in writing both, and each stemmed from personal experience. “Trick Candle,” she explains, was written shortly after she came to Nashville to attend Belmont. “I was a teenager at the time and it was all inspired by my best friend in high school,” Rutland outlines. “It was based on this horrible breakup she was going through. She was finally starting to get over it. Then, on my way to this writing session, she called me and says, ‘We’re getting back together.’ He just pops back up in her life. I remember thinking, what? To me, it was all like a trick candle. It would flame up and then die out.” She suggested the idea to her co-writer, who jumped on board. “That one is a special song,” Rutland says.
Current single “Do You” also holds a warm spot in her heart, as it was mainly written for her younger sister. There’s an anthemic quality to the song, which encourages young women to be themselves and not be bound by society’s restrictions. In a release about the single, Rutland notes that, “The song is a call for each of us to essentially just ‘do you’ and not worry about fitting into the mold that society has created for young women.” A timely message, to be certain.
Rutland wrote “Do You” with her producer and musical mentor Jamie O’Neal, along with O’Neal’s real-life sister Minnie Murphy. O’Neal, best known for her solo No. 1 hits “There Is No Arizona” and “When I Think About Angels,” has been in Rutland’s corner for several years. “She has been such a mentor to me, not only in music but in life,” Rutland raves about their partnership. “She has helped me draw more out of myself.”
A music video for “Do You” is in the works as well, and is slated for release soon. She’s not exactly a newcomer to the video world, having filmed previous clips for her songs “Daddy’s Got a .45” and “Pick Me Up.” The latter definitely displayed Rutland’s fun-loving side, with a high-energy performance that included a brief shot of her using a wrench as a microphone. “That was a blast!” she remembers with some enthusiasm. “It was maybe 30 degrees the day we filmed it. It was a recipe for a really bad day, but I was so happy with the music video. The fact that they were able to turn it into such an enjoyable project says a lot about the crew. They made it easy to have a good time.”
Despite the long hours, with Rutland and crew arriving to the set around 4:00 a.m., she found the whole video-making process enjoyable. She seemed a bit incredulous at the notion that some artists view video shoots as more of an ordeal. “I look at it as something you don’t get to do every day,” she responds with a smile. “In ‘Pick Me Up,’ we acted out a fantasy day and had a big party. That was a cool thing I wish my friends and I had gotten to do in real life. And, I made a bunch of new friends on the set.”
The next logical career step is making new fans. Toward that end, she plans to do more touring during the coming year. Dates are already on the books, including shows in her hometown of Flower Mound, Texas. “There will be lots of performing and traveling, which is so great because I don’t have to schedule that around classes anymore,” Rutland says with a wide smile. “I’m looking forward to performing on a more widespread basis.”
Check out Rutland’s new single “Do You” on iTunes, Amazon and other outlets.