Growing up in Harlan County, country artist Brooklyhn Woods didn’t need close outside influences to want to unleash her inner performer.
“Actually, there’s nobody in my family that’s musically inclined at all,” she said. “I was just the little girl that liked to sing and dance and put on a show.”
Now at age 22, Woods isn’t that little girl anymore, but she wants to sing, write and perform songs to connect with country fans on bigger and bigger stages.
Woods was the youngest of two kids and a coal miner’s daughter growing up in the Harlan County town of Lynch. She found just about any venue to test out her young pipes, whether she was singing in church, elementary school programs or in the foyer of department stores (she liked the acoustics).
The music she gravitated toward was what her parents liked to listen to on the radio, including female country legends like Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline. As she made the decision to become a country artist herself, she wanted to keep those women and similar country artists in mind when settling on her own sound.
“I admire them for being true to themselves and singing what they want to sing and what is best for them,” she said. “My music definitely reflects more traditional country than the newer side.”
I have a little more grit. I’m not fearful of what people think of the songs that I sing. Traditional country music is not as far away as you think it is.
With her parents financial and emotional support, Woods pursued her country music dreams head-on. When she wasn’t performing at festivals in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, her folks would frequently drive her down to perform at weekly musical showcases put on across Nashville by Sweet Southern Entertainment. At one of these showcases in 2011, Woods caught the eyes and ears of Bernard Porter, president and founder of PCG Nashville, who decided to manage the country prospect.
“He always said that I had the ‘it’ factor,” she said. “You have to possess the marketability aspect, you have to be able to sing and you have to be able to handle yourself in situations that the average Joe would not be put in.”
Woods has been releasing her music one single and music video at a time. Her songs feature strong vocals reminiscent of Martina McBride or Carrie Underwood. They could fit in fine on modern country radio but always tend feature steel guitar, banjo and fiddle at Woods’ insistence to harken back to the traditional country she grew up on.
Revenge anthems like I Don’t Know Which Way To Go showcase shades of Miranda Lambert (a contemporary favorite of hers), but other songs, like the piano ballad I’d Be Lyin’, touches on subjects that aren’t readily talked about in country like the dark side of drug and alcohol addiction.
A recent Nashville radio tour by Woods helped propel her single When You Love A Wild Thing to No. 47 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart, an impressive feat for an independent artist. She’s also opened up for established country acts like Jana Kramer, Shooter Jennings, John Michael Montgomery and Casey James.
Now, Woods will play for possibly her biggest crowd to date when she opens up for Sony Music Nashville recording artist Kane Brown Saturday at Manchester Music Hall. She said she hopes the sold out show will allow her to make a few more industry connections and gain some new fans. She continues to set her sights on country stardom while making a point to stand out by staying true to what she loves.
“I feel like a lot of female country artists, there’s a lot of them I honest to God cannot tell apart,” she says. “I just want to get out that I have a little more grit. I’m not fearful of what people think of the songs that I sing. Traditional country music is not as far away as you think it is.”
If You Go
Kane Brown with special guest Brooklyhn Woods
When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13 (Woods at 8:30, Brown at 10)
Where: Manchester Music Hall, 899 Manchester St.
Tickets: Sold Out