Kären McCormick is a country singer originally from Brazzaville, Congo. She just released a brand new single, “Dancing with Him Tonight,” and we got to chat with her about the self-penned track, being from Congo and what’s to come for her.
Nashville Noise: You’re from Brazzaville. What was it like growing up there and how did that impact your music?
I was born in Brazzaville but I actually spent most of my childhood in Washington State. I believe being from Congo and growing up in a part of the country that isn’t necessarily big on country music impacted my own music in the best way. My parents would listen to anything from Shania Twain and Faith Hill to African pop artists like Brenda Fassie. Being a songwriter, I think it’s important to listen to different styles of music outside of your comfort zone so you can bring a little bit of that into your own writing.
Wow! You have such an eclectic background. How did you discover country music in particular?
My mom had Faith Hill’s Fireflies record and that’s the earliest memory I have of hearing country music. It was a little ironic because when I was 11 years old, I was in the car with my father and Taylor Swift’s debut single, “Tim McGraw” came on. Only having been familiar with Faith Hill, I thought it was her singing about her husband (laughs)! I fell in love with the storytelling in country music not too long after and started begging my father for a guitar so I could write my own music.
Who are some of your earliest influences?
Faith Hill, Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood were some of my first female influences in music. I loved that they all had their own sound, but they all had incredible stories to tell.
You just released ‘Dancing With Him Tonight,’ which you wrote. What’s the story behind that song?
“Dancing With Him Tonight” is one of my “pre-Nashville” songs. I wrote it after going to the rodeo with my high school best friend, Courtney — hence the first line in the song. It was one of those songs that almost wrote itself. I wanted to tell the story of doing something that is out of your comfort zone, for me that’s definitely dancing, and I’m so happy with how the final record turned out. My producers Caleb Lovely and Lucas Hathaway did a great job of capturing my vision.
Is it scarier releasing a song that you’ve written?
It certainly can be! It’s an interesting process. “DWHT” is my third single and I’ve learned, as time goes on, you grow as an artist so you become more proud of what you’re releasing. However, you also begin to build an audience and they may grow to have certain expectations of you and your sound. But the excitement certainly outweighs the nerves — every single time.
You released your debut single about a year ago. How have you grown since then as an artist?
What has helped me grow the most since releasing “Just a Song” is moving to Nashville. You are surrounded by so many different kinds of creative people — guitarists, producers, directors — and it makes you realize you can not only expand your vision as an artist but make them come to life. Since moving to Nashville, I’ve recorded a single, written with other writers, shot my first acoustic video and I can’t wait to see what’s next. Every day I feel a little bit closer to the artist I envision myself being in the long run.
Lastly, what can you tell us about your debut EP that drops this summer?
I am so excited about it! I’m working with Caleb Lovely, who produced my last two singles, “We Were on Fire” and “Dancing With Him Tonight.” I don’t want to give too much away just yet, but I can confidently say I believe the best music is yet to be heard with these songs.
Stay tuned for more from McCormick — including an acoustic version of “Dancing with Him Tonight.” For the most up-to-date information, visit her official website.