Where Are They Now: Kellie Coffey
Kellie Coffey was originally signed to BNA records in 2001, and it was a cut from her Dann Huff-produced 2002 album–“When You Lie Next to Me”–that introduced the country music world to her. The song spent an amazing eight months climbing up the charts, eventually resulting in a tour spot on Kenny Chesney’s Margaritas & Senoritas Tour, a 2003 Academy of Country Music Award for Top New Female Vocalist and a spot on the George Strait tour in 2004.
But after a split from her record label in 2004, she put her music career on hold while she tackled another equally challenging new role: Mother. It didn’t come easy, and in the process, she recorded and released a song about the challenges of infertility. The video for “I Would Die For That” has become an internet sensation, collecting over half a million views while becoming an inspiration for women and couples facing the same challenges.
Coffey released an independent album, Walk On, in 2007, and an EP called Why I’m Alive within the last year. And while there are few country music stations playing the new releases, she has finally found fulfillment in becoming a mom to two healthy kids. She’s still writing and recording and fans will have new music to look forward to before the end of 2010.
The 9513 had the opportunity to talk with the ever-lovely Kellie Coffey about the time during her peak radio airplay and about what life is like for her these days.
KEN MORTON, JR.: You found a publishing deal in Los Angeles about the same time you were singing back-up for Barbra Streisand in Las Vegas. Is it, or was it, different for an artist to be signed outside of Nashville?
KELLIE COFFEY: Yes. It was. I think it was pretty rare. In fact, when people ask me how to go about getting a record deal in country music, I always say, “Go to Nashville.” But my own path was strange. I guess everybody’s is. I did a showcase out here in Nashville just really trying to get some practice. A publisher from Warner Chappell caught my show and signed me soon after to an artist development deal. I started working with the stable of writers that were there, for about a year, and I was going back and forth at the time. That’s how it happened to me. But I think that’s very unusual.
KMJ: Did it have any influence on your sound or your style not being part of the Music City establishment?
KC: I’m not sure if that was it. I think I’m just who I am and I was going to make my music regardless of where I was living at the time. I was writing with some of the writers out here in L.A., and writing with some of the writers in Nashville as well. But I think it would have all come out about the same regardless of where I was living at that time.
KMJ: “When You Lie Next to Me” was released in December 2001. The song spent an amazing 33 weeks on the country singles charts, reaching a peak of #8–what was that time like?
KC: That was a crazy time. I was out on the road promoting the single to radio. So I was on the radio tour. It was very exciting. I remember the very time I played a [particular] club. I was down in Louisiana. I played a club where they actually knew my song and they started singing the lyrics back to me. I think I was actually laughing my way through the song because I was so blown away and so touched by that. That was a cool night. For the first time, people actually knew my song. It was a cool time. We were travelling all over the place doing a lot of radio shows and meeting radio folks. We were doing tons of interviews. It was cool.
KMJ: Was the Academy of Country Music Top New Female Vocalist award in 2003 a pinnacle for you? Was it one of the cooler nights of your career?
KC: Absolutely yes. It was an amazing honor. I still think back to that night and that was an incredible night. To be able to share it with my husband was amazing. It was really exciting. It was definitely the highlight of my career. Being recognized by the industry and by your peers is the pinnacle of coolness.
KMJ: Do you have any stage performances that stand out for you from that time like that first show you mentioned in Louisiana?
KC: That one stands out for me for sure. There was another time we were in Kansas, somewhere, and I was by myself on the road without a big artist. Everyone in town rolled out for my show–it was an electric night–and after the show they were kind of shaking my bus it went so well. Then there was another night when I was touring with Kenny Chesney, who was my label mate at the time. I love him. I did a couple shows with him. There was one time where these girls jumped into my bus and said “Where’s Kenny Chesney?” And I came out and they said, “Oh, it’s only Kellie Coffey. Oh bummer.” As big as you are, they can just bring you down and cut you down to size in about two seconds. (Laughing)
KMJ: Album number two, A Little More Me, spawned a #24 hit in “Texas Plates,” and also included a cover of Luther Vandross’ “Dance With My Father.” That album was never released to the public. Tell me about it.
KC: Oh man. I loved that album. The album was never released. We did the video for “Texas Plates,” and that was really the best video that I had done at that time. I really think it was a hit song. But I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if it was the wrong timing or what. I think we released it in the winter and it should have been a summer release. Whatever. The record itself is really strong. There’s a song on there that I wrote after my husband lost his dad. We wrote the song and it’s just a really special song. Allison Krauss from Union Station sang on it for me. It’s still one of my all time favorites. When the rights reverse back, maybe we can go back and re-record that one. We won’t get Allison. I don’t know, maybe we can both call her. (Laughing)
KMJ: Let’s talk about one that was released–talk to me about your 2007 self-released album, Walk On.
KC: That album is really a group of songs that are real personal. Walk On, to me, was about losing my record deal. But people that listen to it will make a connection to something in their own lives that they had to walk on from. I think it’s real relatable that way. There’s another song on there called “I Would Die For That” that I wrote because I was having some infertility issues. After I lost my record deal, I was trying to get pregnant. I miscarried. And I wrote that song about it. And it was a real hard decision whether to put that song on the record because it was really personal. I kind of thought I wouldn’t. But, at the time we went in to cut the demo, the engineer came in crying after I sang the vocal. He said that he and his wife were going through the same thing. So at that point, I thought that I just had to put it on my record.
I think it’s something that hasn’t been talked about much and when you find something new to actually sing about, you just have to do it. It’s really close to a lot of people. There are 600,000 views of that video on YouTube to this day. I still get emails from women and men that are going through it. For me, just to have one song that I’ve written that has touched people like that is what it’s all about for me.
“When You Lie Next To Me”
“I Would Die For That”
KMJ: November of 2005, and May of 2008, both changed your world a bit.
KC: Yes! It did in matter of fact. I got pregnant again and had my baby boy Jackson. He’s four now, which I can’t believe. And then we had Maggie who will be two in May. I had a boy and a girl and they keep me very busy. It’s truly an awesome experience.
KMJ: Has parenthood affected your music, either in musical priorities or music styling?
KC: Absolutely. I just released an EP called Why I’m Alive. The title song is about Jackson and Maggie. They’re definitely an inspiration. And I think I’m writing deeper and singing deeper. I really feel at the top of my game as a writer as well as an artist these days. But as for my priorities, they are my top ones. I’m really enjoying where my life is right now. I get the chance to be the kind of mom I want to be and still get to write and sing and stuff. It’s really what I had hoped for in my life.
KMJ: You’re still actively writing and recording new music too, aren’t you?
KC: Right after I lost my deal and we got out all of those feelings on Walk On, I kind of took a little bit of a break while I was trying to get pregnant. After we had Jackson, I wanted to get back into the studio and after I had Maggie, that’s when we made the six-song EP. It’s kind of something that I’ll always do. I have to sing and I have to write. I can’t help it. It’s part of me. And also, I want my kids to see what I do and have them experience it with me.
KMJ: Can we look forward to new music any time soon?
KC: Yes! We are working on another EP right now so hopefully we can release that in about three months or so. We’ve been really busy writing and singing and all that good stuff. I can’t wait!
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