Many of you will remember Meghan Linsey as a runner-up on NBC’s The Voice. With that big, soulful country voice, she has a sound that is hard to forget.
Linsey hails from New Orleans, which is known for its jazz and soul music. She started singing in church when she was 9 and then began singing with bands at age 14. She had always wanted to sing, and started writing songs in high school. She and the band played local bars, fairs, and festivals.
“I grew up listening to Etta James, Aretha Franklin, and my favorite, Whitney Houston,” Meghan says. “I loved the soulfulness of their voices. But I also fell in love with the storytelling of country music and the songs of artists like Dolly Parton, Tanya Tucker, and Patty Griffin. Anything with grit and soul really resonated with me growing up, and it still does.”
When she turned 18, she knew singing and songwriting was what she wanted to do so she moved to Nashville and enrolled at Belmont University.
And though she didn’t last very long at college, it got her to Nashville which was her main goal, anyway. She started working in downtown Nashville as a karaoke host. She spent her free time singing demos and doing co-writes, “anything I could do to get into the scene.”
At age 20, Linsey met duo partner Josh Jones in Nashville’s famed Printer’s Alley and the two began dating, then writing and performing together as Steel Magnolia. They were auditioned for the CMT reality show Can You Duet and won the competition in the 2nd season in 2009.
Having won the competition, Steel Magnolia signed a recording contract with Big Machine Records; their debut single, “Keep On Lovin’ You“, was released in August 2009, and their self-titled debut album followed by a January 2011 release.
I remember hearing Steel Magnolia and loving their sound and I often wondered what had happened to them.
The songstress confessed, “We rode that wave for a few years, but it didn’t end great.”
She continued, “I grew more from that relationship and being with Big Machine and all the things that we did – I grew more from that time of my life than any other time ever.”
In 2015, Meghan took her musical journey to a national level as a contestant on NBC’s The Voice. Her YouTube cover of “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” caught the attention of The Voice execs and they phoned her to see if she would audition for the show.
She explains, “I wasn’t even thinking about being on The Voice. I was trying to figure out how to do my own thing after Steel Magnolia ended. I was just trying to figure out how to move on.”
They called while she was in line at Panera. She told them she would call right back. When the total of the order was $11.11, she took it as a sign that she should try out. Three days later the singer was in California.
Linsey performed “Love Hurts,” originally cut by The Everly Brothers, during the Blind Auditions before selecting Pharrell Williams as her coach. Her powerhouse vocals blew them away as she took the much-covered song to a whole other level.
However, in true Voice rivalry, Blake Shelton stole Linsey from Williams during her Voice battle with Paul Pfau, who teamed with Linsey on “Don’t Let Me Down.”
In the finale, Linsey bravely sang a song that she had written, “Change My Mind,” proving she belonged in the winner’s circle.
Though she did not win, Linsey was crowned the Season 8 runner-up, and her solo career was successfully launched.
Linsey now is happily married to Grammy-nominated producer Tyler Cain. Still, when writing songs, she pens lyrics of hurt and heartbreak with songs like “Exes and Friends” and the soulful “Made Me This Way.” Her newest song, “If You Need Me, Don’t” also harkens back to a darker period of her life.
She confirms, “I still pull from that time. That’s how you get the real stuff. You have to go through it. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. It’s part of life.”
She has also written for the sync world as she wrote and sings the theme song for Queer Eye and other songs for Station 19.
She and Cain have done a couple of records including forming a duet of their own. They are just as happy to work together as they are to work alone. Last year they released the emotive single, “Nowhere With You” on which the love they share is evident.
“We’re just trying to put out music and have fun doing it,” she confesses.
Cain’s studio, Bold Studio Nashville. is located in the heart of Music City, where he does sessions both in person and remotely for clients all over the world.
Remarkably, the soulful singer has never had official voice lessons. She was mentored by Naomi Judd’s vocal coach, Ron Browning, before her run on The Voice, and Linsey credits her success partially to him.
However, vocal coaches can only guide you to a point. In the case of Linsey’s evocative singing style, I am pretty sure she was born that way.
Now well on her way to becoming a household name, the artist is excited about what she is creating now.
“The new stuff I am writing is getting back to my roots, that New Orleans sound. It’s what I grew up singing. I’m a soul singer at heart and when I sing live, that’s what I really get into. It’s easy for me.”
Rolling Stone says, “Linsey marries soul, blues, rock, country, and even a little gospel together in a unique, captivating sound that has seemingly no ceiling to its range.”
“If You Need Me, Don’t” is the first of several singles that will be released prior to a full album later on this year.
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