“For country music today, Olivia Lane is clearly the right girl at the right time. She’s strong, sexy, dynamic, smart and funny, whether on stage or in person.” Olivia was the first of five outstanding artists to grace the Saint Andrew’s Hall stage tonight for the 4th Annual – A Very Country Christmas: Presented by NASH FM, in Detroit, Michigan.
“Sometimes sexy, sometimes defiant, sometimes vulnerably intimate”, Olivia shares her songs with the world one at a time, rather than waiting and doing it all at once”. “Like seeds planted individually and then nurtured to bloom, each song teases the listener’s imagination and makes them hungry for more.”
We got a taste of that tonight as Olivia performed a lovely sampling from several LP’s, EP’s and Singles, including her newest single Devil and You, which was just released in mid-October and One Whiskey Away that she performed live at the CMA Fest 2017, in June. She got us into the Christmas spirit with a fresh version of Brenda Lee‘s Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree from her 2016 single release. Then, out of nowhere, we were all entertained with Friends Don’t, which surprisingly included a snippet from Sixpence None the Richer’s – Kiss Me. She finished her set off with just as much enthusiasm as she started it with, performing Make My Own Sunshine off her 2016 self-titled EP.
This young artist is known as a “Nashville-based country singer and songwriter mixes energetic, pop-infused twang with optimistic, inspirations lyrics.” With “pure, unparalleled optimism” Lane’s drive and determination have propelled her from her hometown of Houston, Texas to Los Angeles, California and finally landed right where she is destined to be – in Nashville, Tennessee. Tonight, Detroit welcomed not only the Christmas Spirit but also some spunky Nashville into their hearts, as Olivia Lane sets the high-spirited tone of the night!
Splice Senior Photojournalist: Mary Elliott
Olivia Lane keeps a diary. “Who doesn’t?” you ask. Ah, but Olivia’s is different. Unlike practically everyone else you know, each entry is a song. She records each of these with a rare conviction — sometimes sexy, sometimes defiant, sometimes vulnerably intimate. And then she invites the world to listen. Which is probably the best offer the world has had in recent memory. “That’s what music is to me,” says the ebullient Houston-born singer/songwriter/entertainer. “It’s how I categorize my life.” Not only that; rather than follow traditional strategy by packaging her most recent performances as a single EP release, Olivia is letting them loose one at a time. Like seeds planted individually and then nurtured to bloom, each song teases the listener’s imagination and makes them hungry for more. Olivia laughs delightedly at that imagery. “That’s right but, you know, the world is changing,” she says. “It’s not like how things were when I was growing up, when you’d turn on the radio and have to listen to some song over and over again. I want to bring my music direct to my fans. Why wouldn’t I?”
Good question, especially music of this caliber and variety. She began sowing this crop of new songs with “Devil and You,” whose synthesizer-meets-banjo intro establishes the theme of resistance to temptation. In Olivia’s case, the winner is a foregone conclusion, as she asks “What’s a good girl supposed to do when she’s caught up in between and Devil and you?” Inevitably she sings “I’m about to be a soul that needs to be saved,” though she doesn’t seem to feel bad about that at all. By the time we get to “Wrong Girl” she’s cast hesitation aside, proclaiming to a barfly trying to pick her up, “Boy, tonight I think you’ll like the wrong girl.”
“The messages in these songs are more adult than anything I’ve written or sung before, but still fun. If you actually look at the lyrics to ‘Wrong Girl,’ it’s about a girl standing up for herself versus a typical scenario where some guy hits on her and they go home together. This one says, ‘You know what? If you want to hang out with me, it’s gonna be my night. And if you think this is going to end typically, you’ve got the wrong girl.’”
For country music today, Olivia Lane is clearly the right girl at the right time. She’s strong, sexy, dynamic, smart and funny, whether on stage, or in person. Much of her confidence is rooted in her upbringing in Texas. Her mother was a local Texas country singer who always made sure Olivia had access to any music that inspired her. She has always been close to her older sister but also challenged by the example she set.
“I didn’t so much compare myself to her,” she clarifies. “But she was valedictorian, a soccer player and a book nerd. I was like, ‘I wish I could find something I could love as much as my sister loves soccer.’ So when my Mom put me in a theater group when I was in first grade – that became my outlet. I was bitten by the entertainer bug. When I got to do ‘Grease’ I wanted to know every part. I wanted to dive into the story. With my love for stories, it just made sense initially that I get into country music.”
Olivia started writing songs at age 16. She got so serious about it that she managed to persuade her mother to move with her to Los Angeles, which at the time seemed to be the Emerald City where all dreams might be realized. She finished her last two years of high school in Los Angeles, where she studied voice, dance, acting and guitar. Then, during her sophomore year at the University of Southern California, she signed up for a songwriting class.
“We analyzed all the great songs, beginning with a Beatles song on our first day,” she remembers. “I fell in love with it because it helped me remember how exciting the idea of telling stories through music could be. I wasn’t being fulfilled in my acting classes because I wasn’t telling my own story. As a songwriter, I could have much more creative control.”
By this time, it was becoming clear that Nashville was where Olivia needed to be. For two summers she interned there, the first with a publishing company and the second with an agency. Then, after her graduation in 2013, she impulsively joined two friends on a road trip that ended five days later at her first place in Music City. Along the way she documented their adventures, which she posted online with the title Long Way To Go. The very next day, they all headed out to Bonnaroo. And on the day she returned, Olivia went to work writing new songs. One of the first was “Long Way To Go.”
“As the months went by I got more confident and willing to stick up for myself. It got to the point where one writer called my manager after a writing session and said, ‘You know, Olivia really needs to keep her mouth shut,’” she says, whooping with delight at the memory. “Eventually I found a happy medium of trusting and learning from people who believe in you while also staying true to and believing in yourself.”
Her self-titled debut EP stirred interest throughout and beyond Music Row in 2016. She earned opening slots with Gary Allan, Easton Corbin, Kip Moore and Wynonna, and booked her own ‘She Fits’ house tour doing dates in private homes throughout the country.
From stages and writing rooms, from youthful passions for music as diverse as Blondie and Patsy Cline, Michael Jackson and Alan Jackson, Olivia Lane has already achieved an uncanny self-awareness, artistically and personally. “I’m a musical melting pot,” she declares. “If I have to categorize myself I’d have to say I’m pop country because I identify with the country lifestyle but pop music is stylistically all over the map, just like me, and that peaks my interest.”
“It’s not really a genre; it’s just what people like. It’s popular music. And I’ve played in pretty much every crevice and corner of America, doing two-hour sets and then going to the bar and talking with the customers and locals, I learned a lot that way. I learned a lot about myself from understanding what people saw when they watched me onstage.”
“So now, when people ask me who I sound like, I tell them the truth.
“I sound like myself.”
Which is a great thing. Somebody has to sound as exciting and engaging as Olivia Lane. We’re just glad it’s her.
Olivia Lane may have sung about a “Quarter Life Crisis” on her self-titled EP, but, as one of country’s hottest new stars, there’s only sunshine on the road ahead for this native Texan with a voice as big as her home state. That’s partly because of the impact her music has already made on her fans; and partly because everything Lane does is with pure, unparalleled optimism. As evidenced on her self-titled breakthrough EP, Lane’s an artist able to effortlessly meld a freewheeling spirit with poignant, inspirational lyrics and an irrepressible drive. Because she knows as well as anyone how easily music can inspire a smile, and how a song can change a life. Lane makes her own sunshine – she’s even written a track about it – but what’s most magical is how intent she is in helping others to do the same.
Olivia Lane is a Nashville-based country singer and songwriter who mixes an energetic, pop-infused twang with optimistic, inspirational lyrics. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, she got a taste for performing from participating in community theater and choir as a child, and had early exposure to music as a profession from a singer mom who took her to visit a recording studio in her youth and played music for her by the likes of Linda Ronstadt and Patsy Cline. A driven young Lane started guitar lessons in her early teens and relocated to Los Angeles at 16 to be near an entertainment hub. She began pursuing songwriting in earnest toward the end of high school and went on to study songwriting and theater at the University of Southern California. Her love of the craft and country music prompted a move to Nashville. After settling in the city and arranging collaborations with area songwriters, she prepared a debut EP, Love Thing, which was issued by Big Spark Music Group in 2014. It included the exuberant “Steal Me Away“, which she co-wrote with Lee Thomas Miller (Randy Travis, Brad Paisley) and soon-to-be regular collaborator Ilya Toshinsky. She also began hosting an itinerant Music City live-music showcase for female musicians called Diva Jam, and hit the road in support of Wynonna, Randy Houser, the Marshall Tucker Band, Frankie Ballard, and more. She started recording her full-length debut at Dark Horse Recording Studios in 2015.