Montana native Stephanie Quayle is blazing her own trail in country music with songs meant to uplift, inspire and empower. With her fan family, Flock of Quayles, at her wings, the sky truly is the limit. Stephanie’s latest album, “Love the Way You See Me” is country music at its finest. Her soft country twang and unforgettable vocals bring songs like “Drinking with Dolly” and “Winnebago” to life. Each lyric paints a picture and tells a story that we can all relate to.
“Love the Way You See Me” is set to be released September 1, but you won’t have to wait that long to hear one of the most heartfelt tracks from the album. Inspirer presents an exclusive first listen of “Ugly,” along with a touching heart to heart with the country starlet herself.
And just a side note: Dolly Parton, if you’re reading this, Stephanie Quayle is someone you really need to meet.
How did you get your start in music?
Oh my goodness, in a barn in Montana! I grew up singing. My parents are both musical, and I started piano when I was 4, started writing songs when I was a little human. But I really knew that it was possible and this could really be my life when I was in Switzerland on an exchange program. There was this band that I met right when I got to town that needed a lead singer. Their singer had left the band. Well, I sang in broken French, and they said, “Ok come audition.” And so the band hired me, and we created an album together, and we put it out. It was my very first CD I ever made in my life. We toured around Switzerland, and when I got on stage that’s when I knew that this would be my life. I didn’t know how. I didn’t know what it would take or the challenges that would ensue. But I just knew that it’s where I belonged.
You are the ultimate representation of girl power. How important is it for women to support one another?
I think it’s imperative. I think my whole life I’ve been referred to as the crusader, someone who takes up for anyone and everyone. That’s just my nature. And for my music, I love being able to touch people in a positive way and inspire them to chase after whatever their heart desires. And I think that what’s really beautiful about this country community is there is this incredible camaraderie with the women in country. I think that you know there’s just this really cool thing like, “I’ve got your back,” between the women.
You inspire so many women. Who are some of the women who have inspired you?
It goes as far back as the women that really began. Kitty Wells. Dolly Parton is my person. I am obsessed with everything that she’s been able to create. She’s everything on all cylinders. I think that a lot of artists coming up have definitely been inspired by her, and she’s just amazing. Loretta Lynn is incredible. Then coming to the more contemporaries, I love Faith and Trisha, Shania. There’s just so many different personalities with the women of country music. That’s my favorite part. Like Wyonna. She is her own deal, and I love that. She’s so unique to her. And then of course right now you’ve got Carrie Underwood. She has one of the most amazing voices of all time. And then you’ve got Miranda who is just so raw and so real. There are a lot of right now females, like Mickey Guyton, who’s not only a friend but is incredible. She wrote one of the songs that’s on the album. There are really a lot of inspiring women.
Speaking of Dolly Parton, “Drinking with Dolly” really speaks to me from the first line when you sing, “Sometimes I think I was born too late.”
I had the exact same connection when I first heard that song, that first line. I have always felt that way! Just thinking about sitting right at the table with Patsy, Tammy, Loretta and Dolly, my brain can’t take it. It just sounds like the most amazing day ever.
But I think that it also speaks to simpler times and just the moments that you can make a simpler time right now. Even with everything we have going on, this song kind of takes you to where you need to be, and it’s just a beautiful escape. Every time I sing that song, it takes my breath away. It’s really the song that will always be my beginning. Even though there have been so many songs before that I’ve written and been a part of, this song really set the stage for me, and there’s no better song. And that’s why when I put it in the track listing, I put it as the number one song, because it’s really the beginning. It’s the reason this whole project exists.
Have you had the chance to meet Dolly Parton yet?
I have not met her yet. I do have a typed letter on pink Dolly paper from Dolly Parton which is just the coolest ever. She heard the song and she loved it, and that was one of the greatest moments of my career, hands down.
I bet you’ll get to meet her soon!
I think so. I think we are destined to meet one of these days. It’s just gonna be one of those moments that I’m just gonna soak up every last drop.
From “Drinking with Dolly” to “Second Thoughts,” ‘Love the Way You See Me’ is such a beautifully crafted album. What was your inspiration?
You know, I’d been writing and finding songs and touring a bunch. And as the songs were coming, it just happened very organically and very naturally. Nothing about this album is forced. When things fall into place, they fall into place like they’re supposed to.
So as I was writing these songs- “Drinking With Dolly,” “Winnebago,” and “Ugly”- those kinda happened at the same time as me sharing them and falling in love with them and having to fight to get them. And for those that don’t know, when you’re an independent artist, sometimes it’s more difficult to get access to those A- list songs because they’re being held for artists like Carrie Underwood or Miranda Lambert. So it was one of those things where I really kinda put it all on the line. I was like, “I’m supposed to be the voice of these songs!” So that kinda started the process.
And then with that, writing and collaborating with other writers, “Love the Way You See Me” and “Selfish,” “I’ve Got Your Six,” “Post It”- those came about again from the purest place. And each one of those has so much intention, which I find really fascinating looking back.
This album is for the fans. This is for everyone that’s been with me, the newbies to the ones that followed me for years. And to those first- time listeners, I think that it’s a really honest depiction of who I am as an artist. When they hear this album, they know who I am. I feel like there’s that direct line communication between music and the fan. We all have those people in our lives that lift us up when we don’t feel our best, and this is absolutely that kind of message. It’s all about, “I’ve got you. You’ve got me. We’ve all got each other.”
We’re really excited about giving your fans an opportunity to listen to “Ugly,” ahead of the September 1st release. It’s such a powerful song that almost every woman can relate to. What does that song mean to you?
When I heard “Ugly” for the first time, written by two extraordinary female songwriters Nicolle Galyon and Audra Mae, I went home to my piano, and I sat down and I played that song until I knew every note, every nuance, every lyric. Until it was mine. This song is so incredible, and it means everything that I stand for. Who can’t relate to this song? It’s such a powerful message.
There’s a lot of parts of that song that I relate to or I empathize with or I’ve experienced with a friend, a sister, my mom. And I just think this is truly one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. And I love that it’s called “Ugly.” I think it’s perfect.
If you could go back in time and tell the younger you one thing, what would you say?
I would tell her that she has time. I think that we live in such a hurried state of mind that I was always running. I was always chasing and running and hustling, all the time, all the time, all the time. And that’s just my nature. I’m a worker bee. I have that work ethic from working on a farm when I was a little kid. But I think with that I also felt like I was constantly running out of time. And I severed that from my words, from coming out of my mouth. A few years back I was like, “I have all the time I need. And I’m gonna take in every moment so I can be honest and share my story, and reflect and experience in real time.” The beauty of country music is it’s real life, and if you’re not living then how can you sing about it?
What’s the most rewarding part of being a country music artist?
For me, it all comes down to the fans. There’s nothing more special than watching the words that come out of my mouth while I’m singing from the stage become the fans’ words, become the fans’ soundtracks. We call our fan family the Flock of Quayles. I love the stage. The stage is where I live. But I do it all for the fans. When I can make a fan smile, or make them dance, or make them sing along, or make them feel something, that’s what it’s all about. Because music is the most powerful language that any of us speak.
You have such a charitable spirit. You work with organizations like St. Jude’s Hospital and Operation Smile, raising money and awareness. Where does that spirit to give come from?
When I was a little kid, my grandparents instilled in us at a very young age that it’s just what you do. There’s no choice in the matter. You just help others. And if you see someone in need, you help them. You don’t turn a blind eye. And I think that’s one of the really cool parts about music, is that you carry a platform in which you can share that message with so many more people. It’s all about being good to each other.
What’s next for you?
We’ve got the album coming out. In my hometown of Bozeman, Montana, there’s this really beautiful, old theater right on the main street, and we’re doing an album release show there. And we’re gonna play down the album live and stripped down. And I can’t wait. That show’s sold out. It’s always incredible to go home. I’m so proud of the music that I can’t wait to share it. And then I’m also doing an album release in North Carolina where we have a little farm there…and then we’re doing an LA album release on the 25th of September. So most of September is all about sharing the album, and just spreading the good word.
You can pre-order your copy of “Love the Way You See Me” here.