It was a love-hate relationship for sure.
The last thing Kylie wanted to see dragging up to the curb every afternoon after school was her parent’s old Chevy Suburban. The thing was an eyesore and an embarrassment. What teenager wouldn’t be mortified? She hated it; and she’ll never forget it.
But she’ll also never forget the road trips in that Suburban from her family’s home in Wylie, Texas, northeast of Dallas, to the rolling hills hidden beneath East Texas forests. She loved those.
“We spent what seemed like hours to a kid in that old Suburban,” she said. “My step-dad is a music lover and he was the one who introduced the whole Texas-Americana, singer-songwriter thing to me. It’d be he and my mom in the front seat, and me and my two sisters and brother in the back. He’d put on Radney Foster or Jerry Jeff Walker and we’d sing along to all these different harmony parts. I love that memory.”
She’s never strayed from those early influences. Throw in singer/songwriters Walt Wilkins and Patty Griffin and you begin to understand why her lyrics sound so….real.
“You can just feel something about somebody when they mean what they are singing,” Kylie says. “That’s so important to me. Music is a connecting point with people; it’s fellowship with people. It’s why I love music.”
By age 12, Kylie knew singing is what she wanted to do with her life. Her mother enrolled her in a vocal camp thinking that would “get it out of her system.” It was like throwing kerosene on a fire, but she nearly extinguished the fire when after high school Kylie spent a year in an abusive relationship that ended with her in trouble with the law. It was a dark period where she alienated nearly everyone important to her. That’s when she wrote Change, an autobiographical song that is both an explanation of a lifestyle and reminder to keep moving forward – to change.
“To me, songs are supposed to have a purpose,” Kylie said. “I trapped myself in a situation and finally it clicked. I had to change. People to some extent have the ability to dictate their own happiness and I try to put that in my songs. I want people to see there is a way out when they feel like they’ve trapped themselves. They’ve got to change something.”
The realization she needed to change actually came from an earlier song she’d written, All the Right Reasons. “I believe all the wrong things happen for all the right reasons,” she sings. The lyrics reminded her of why she is intensely passionate about playing music.
“I want my music to move people,” she says. “I’ve got this platform to do something good for people, to speak into their lives, and in return it is good for my soul. I just want people to know that whatever they’re going through in life, it is going to be okay. That’s the message of All the Right Reasons.”
To underestimate the importance of music to Kylie is to underestimate how piercing her blue eyes can be. Sure, Kylie loves to talk (a lot), meet people, network, shop for 70’s retro clothes (yes, she has a collection of bell bottoms), be outside, ride horses, hang out around a campfire with a guitar in hand and sit on her front porch for quiet moments of reflection and recharging. However, it wouldn’t be unusual for you to pass Kylie late at night cruising the streets slamming a can – or three – of Red Bull with music blaring and her singing at the top of her lungs.
“Music has always been in me,” she said. “I have to do it. This is all or nothing for me. I’m going to be writing and singing music the rest of my life whether I’m broke or not so I might as well go for it.”
And yes, she’d go for it even if it meant riding from one show to the next in that old Chevy Suburban.
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