Hillary Scott has spent the last decade known as one-third of multi-platinum country supergroup Lady Antebellum. Some rare downtime from Lady A lead all three members of the group to pursue their own solo projects, starting with Charles Kelley’s album, “The Driver,” released in February. Dave Haywood also spent time behind the glass, producing an EP for trio Post Monroe.
Scott took the time to pursue a family project that started as an idea in 2011, after the death of her grandfather. The faith-based album, “Love Remains,” features Hillary and the Scott Family, which includes her mother, Grammy-winning artist Linda Davis, and father, hit songwriter Lang Scott, as well as her younger sister and blossoming artist, Rylee Scott. The album, produced by Ricky Skaggs, started out as a five song collection of family favorite hymns that the Scotts wanted to present as a gift to those who had helped them through a difficult time. In late 2015, Scott experienced a sudden miscarriage that lead her to write the first single from the album, “Thy Will.” Leaning on her family for support, the five song project became a full-length album, containing hymns, as well as original songs penned by Hillary and her parents.
We caught up with Hillary ahead of the album release and between tour dates with Lady A to talk about working on “Love Remains,” finding hope after loss, and, of course, Lady Antebellum.
“Love Remains” is an album that just feels like home. You stay so busy with Lady A, how do you maintain that sense of balance and home on the road?
That’s a challenge; it really is. I think the first thing to come to mind is that we really try to travel as a family as much as we can. My husband Chris plays drums for us on the road, so my daughter comes with us a lot because we’re both traveling. She’s at an age where, for the most part, she can just kind of roll with the flow of the schedule, and the bus life. Flying is a little bit of a different story, especially if we’re changing time zones, but I think just trying to keep our family together is really important. I grew up in Nashville. Both my parents moved there before they met, and then started their family. I live in Nashville now full time, when we’re not on the road, and I think just having my parents and my baby sister local all the time — you know for so many people, you grow up and move away, and your family isn’t in the city you live in anymore — for me, having them a little more than half an hour down the road has kept us all close.
I’ll tell you what, though, making this album was one of the blessing that I didn’t really comprehend until I was in the middle of it. It was making up for a lot of lost time with my family. Being so busy for the past decade — you know, my little sister, we’re 14 years apart, so a lot of her most formative years, where you grow exponentially faster than any other time of your life — I was in and out of town a lot, and I felt like I missed. To be able to be together every day in the studio, and not only talk and laugh, but be able to sing these songs that are really important to us, I feel like our family’s bond is even closer than it was before.
This album is really a testament to the importance of family and faith, especially when going through tough times. This project started after the passing of your grandfather?
Yes, his fight with leukemia, and the outpouring of loved ones and how they walked us through that, and the encouragement they gave, and the support was the catalyst for us wanting to do something in return. With our family’s gift being music and all singing together, that was what we felt like we could give back.
When did this go from just being a project for family and friends to something that you all decided to put out for everyone?
My dad brought me the original idea, which was taking a handful of hymns and doing the Scott family versions of them, and then we’ll just send them out to this group of people, and there were around 300 or so people who just really left a mark on hearts through my grandfather’s battle. When he brought me the idea, I obviously was over the moon excited about it; I felt like it was such a beautiful idea. I took a couple of weeks to think about it, though. I was kind of intrigued by it — wanting to get back to my roots of family and faith. The more I though about it, the more I felt like everyone needs to be given the opportunity to hear this music, and to be encouraged, or hopefully feel loved as they listen to this music, and find hope. After I took those couple of weeks to think about it and pray about it, I approached my dad, and I said, “What about this? Let’s just see if we can make this as big as possible.” He talked to my mom and they agreed that it would be a really fun project, and all the pieces started to fall into place so beautifully that we really felt like God was giving us the thumbs up to keep moving forward, and that we were on the right path.
“Thy Will,” which is the single from the album is also an important song to you. So many women don’t share their experience with miscarriage, and you’ve opened up about your experience with the release of this song.
You know how people say beauty rises from ashes? It does. I feel like if your heart is open to see how the world, even in the midst of really hard things, can still be really beautiful, and we can all find that inner strength to rise above. On those days that I still sit and think, “Gosh, I feel so vulnerable and exposed that I talked about such a private part of my life,” this knowing and feeling the connection with so many people who have been through the same thing, or struggle that has left them in that same place of just questioning and desperation and asking why, and not understanding why things like this have to happen or things like that — whatever they’re going though.
That’s just where this really unexpected, beautiful blessing of community and feeling like you’re connected as human beings on a heart level — it’s been such a healing part of this whole journey for me — including healing from just the grief and pain of losing a baby. Time, along with connecting with others, and really bonding over your stories and loving each other and supporting each other through a difficult time, that’s where the healing comes from. I just think that it’s really amazing to hear stories like that — that this song is really touching hearts, and hopefully being a part of the grief journey in a healthy way and the healing journey for people. I honestly don’t know if there’s ever going to be anything like this that happens that will feel like this feels. There’s such a connection I feel with the fans. Really with other hearts — I hate even using the word “fans.” I just feel forever tied to other people’s hearts because of this song.
The music video was also very beautifully done.
Thank you so much. Shane Drake was the director. He wrote the treatment and directed the video, and I felt like the symbolism — he nailed it. I was so moved by what he wrote, and it was a really great day, and a really fun video to shoot.
Does the Scott family have plans to perform these songs live?
We do. Since the record is coming out in a couple of weeks, we have a handful of things we’re doing to promote that, and we’re in talks to do some kind of small few city tour. It’s got to all come together. My mom is out with Kenny Rogers on his tour. My little sister is about to start her sophomore year in high school, and I obviously have a lot of commitments with Lady Antebellum because we’re working on a new record. We’ll have to see; it will have to make sense. Thankfully, family is family and at some point in the near future, whether it’s in the fall, or next year, or five years from now, this music will still be there, and we can still go out and tour it. But obviously, to be able to continue the fun of hanging out with my family, and also bringing these songs to life in a live environment would be amazing. We’re keeping our fingers and toes crossed that it works out.
You mentioned that you’re back in the studio with Lady A. Charles and Dave have also had their own projects outside of Lady Antebellum recently. Do you think that’s something that keeps you guys strong as a band — to be able to have your own creative outlets?
Absolutely. This was the first time we really took a big leap in that way. I think there were smaller ways that all three of us kind of ventured out in our own individual artistry over the last 10 years, but this was the first real obvious one that felt a little bit different because we were going into a long break of just touring and working on new music for Lady Antebellum. I can say that we’ve all said to each other that this was the best thing we could have done — the best gift we could have given each other, because we had time to be with our families and to nurture what we felt we were supposed to do as individuals, whether it be family, or a solo project, or producing another band. We all kind of found our paths, and we have come back to Lady A so appreciative of each other and what we have and this unbelievable career that we’ve been blessed to have built and sustained by incredible fans and the team around us. I think when you do anything for a long time, and when you’re really busy, it’s hard to come up for air and truly get a great, honest survey of your reality. When we took this break and have been able to do that now, I think we feel way more appreciative and blessed than we could ever imagine because we’ve just had the greatest ride together, and it’s nowhere near over.
Your little sister is getting into music, and there are all these other young artists coming up. As someone who is viewed as such a strong female force in the industry, what’s the advice you would offer them?
The one thing, and this is really across the board, with making music and writing music, performing it, connecting that music to the fans, you have to be genuine. You have to be authentic. I believe where you’re really given the ability to connect with people is when they know that it’s really you, and it’s something that you’re passionate about, and you believe in and are excited to share with them. That is my encouragement to young women and men who are wanting to get into music and performing and writing and becoming an artist. There’s no one else like you, and to really embrace that is important. You have to develop an extremely intense work ethic. There are a lot of demands on you, but it’s worth it. It’s so worth it to be able to get out and perform and record these songs, and to be given the opportunity to go in and create a song from nothing like we do. When we write a song it’s really the greatest job in the world, and reminding yourself of that, even on the hard days is important. Just always try to keep your thumb on the pulse — if you start to not really know who you are anymore, I think that’s a good time to take a pause and reassess and go, “Okay, most importantly, I need to get across my heart and share my story” because that’s a story no one else has.
That’s something Lady A does so well — the storytelling. There are so many songs you just want to live inside of for a while.
I can honestly say that we really — all three of us — go to bed at night knowing that we try to stretch ourselves, and there have been a handful of songs where we can say, “That’s not exactly as much ‘us’ as others,” but that is one thing, no matter what commercial success certain songs have had or not — we’ve always gone with our hearts. I think we’ll always, no matter what, be glad that we did that.
You traveled with your mom growing up, and so much has changed, even in the last decade, in the music industry. Do you and your mom talk about the differences from when she was starting out in comparison to now?
Absolutely. I think one of the biggest that we’ve talked about, and that she’s embraced, and one of the most interesting perspectives to hear from her is what it was like to be in music pre-social media. I think that is one of the biggest shifts in just people’s ability to consume music, to hear it, to find it, and it’s an instant way to know the artist — to read words that they’re saying, to watch videos of them speaking their heart, or how they feel about things. There’s a mystique that isn’t really there anymore, and I don’t say that as a negative, but there weren’t as many ways, unless it was a print interview or in an on-air radio interview. There wasn’t a whole lot of ways to get information out there, the stories behind the songs, and the stories behind the person, and all of that, so that’s been one of the biggest shifts for sure that we’ve talked about. My mom is very active now on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook — my dad has to help her with it [laughs]. But yeah, she loves it. It’s definitely a big shift from even when Lady A started 10 years ago, let alone when my mom moved to Nashville and started pursuing a career in the mid ‘80s.
“Love Remains” is out Friday, July 29, and is currently available for pre-order on iTunes.