For some rising musicians, their hometown is simply a trivial fact. But for Lincoln County singer-songwriter Lily Tallent, the red clay farmland of Lincoln County is a vital component to her music.
“Having roots in tradition and history is not something I take lightly. It’s all very special,” she said.
Tallent, 27, is heading to the West Coast next month for the 2013 Charlotte Music Awards Red Carpet after winning this year’s award for “Women In Country.”
The event is scheduled to kick off Nov. 20 with a Carolina Music on Tour concert at the Henry Fonda Theater in Los Angeles. The red carpet event is being co-hosted by Charlotte Music Award’s sister organization, Hollywood Music In Media Awards.
According to the Charlotte Music Award’s website, the top producers, music publishers and agents from London to Los Angeles are expected to attend. There, the music artists will have the chance to network, distribute demo cd’s and explore what Hollywood has to offer.
Up until recently, Tallent’s publicity was by word of mouth. She has performed across North Carolina in cities and towns like Boone, Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Lincolnton, and Shelby.
Tallent was drawn to the natural beauty of her hometown at an early age, and spent the majority of her childhood playing outdoors with her cousins.
“I spent a lot of time exploring life on the back of a horse,” Tallent said.
When she was not on horseback, she could be found traveling across the woods and pastures of her family’s land by four-wheeler or farm jalopy.
Like her passion for the outdoors, her flair for singing was also noticed at an early age. Her first songs were the old hymns she learned during services at her family’s church. Tallent jokingly confesses that her first concerts were as a child in her grandmother’s bathroom as she stood in front of the mirror.
“I was so nervous to sing in front of people, but I really wanted to sing,” she said.
Tallent took the next step in high school and joined the chorus. With the encouragement of her musically inclined peers, she began singing the National Anthem at West Lincoln High School’s baseball games. Performance anxiety, however, kept her time in the spotlight limited.
Tallent soon found herself surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains at Appalachian State University. Between her busy academic and athletic schedules, her dreams of performing on stage were pushed aside.
It was not until she attended a free concert at Charlotte’s Speed Street in 2007 that her drive to excel in the music industry ignited.
“I just told myself, ‘Lily, what are you waiting on? Just do it!’” she said.
From then on, when she was not immersed in her studies or dominating the track field, she could be found teaching herself how to play guitar and piecing together snippets of song lyrics. By her graduation in 2009, Tallent knew that singing was her future.
After college, she returned home to care for her grandparents. Being back in her hometown gave her more time to dedicate herself to singing and songwriting. Tallent describes her music as folk Americana, influenced by her love of the golden years of classic country as well as the late 60s and early 70s rock and roll.
The influences of these genres can be seen not only in her music but in her appearance as well. Feather earrings and an array of bangles are a staple accent to her voluminous curly brown hair and fringe cowboy boots. Her rich southern accent pays tribute to her North Carolina roots.
“Whatever comes out of my mouth is always going to sound country,” said Tallent. “I’m just trying to be me. And if that fits in something, then great.”
Presently, Tallent is working on recording her first EP, which will consist of four original songs.
“Recording has been challenging because the songs are not always in time [musically],” she said. “Sometimes I get really into it and hold out a note. It’s easy if it’s just me and my guitar, but it’s hard for the person accompanying me.”
Tallent hopes her recent recognition and the trip to Los Angeles will give her the opportunity to travel more and share her music with others.
“I haven’t been further than Hurricane Mills, Tenn., so it’ll be exciting to travel and see something different,” she said. “I just want to soak it all up.”
Her one hesitation about the trip? The flight to Los Angeles.
“I’ve never been on a plane before, so I’m pretty nervous about that,” she said.
Nevertheless, she knows this trip is essential for pursuing her singing career.
“I hope to one day open for a nationally recognized act,” she said. “My ultimate dream is to sign with a record label and do this for a living.”
For more information on Lily Tallent, check out her website at http://lilytallent.com/