Introducing Natalie Stovall and The Drive, an up-and-coming country music group that needs to get on your radar ASAP.
Led by Tennessee-born Natalie Stovall, she knew music was her passion from very little. Learning how to play the fiddle, this and many other talents got her to do gigs at The Oprah Winfrey Shows and The White House. In 2006 she met soulmates James Bavendam (drummer), Miguel Cancino (guitar), and Joel Dormer (guitar), and quickly the four of them started to work on music together. Little did they know that chemistry they had would evolve into something greater: Natalie Stovall and The Drive.
Long story short: Destiny got them to work with legendary country music producer Paul Worley (Dixie Chicks, Lady Antebellum, Big and Rich, and The Band Perry), to release their debut EP last year, to strive despite their label unexpectedly shutting down and dropping their second EP only two months ago - a project that was funded by their fans and industry connoisseurs via a KickStarter campaign (whose goal budget was reached in no time), to play 200 shows in just one year, among other great things.
Right now their latest single "Heartbreak" is one of my current country obsessions and that's why I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to interview their vocalist Natalie Stovall a few days ago.
Check out our Directlyrics EXCLUSIVE Q&A below to know more about this exciting up-and-coming country music band that I'm sure has a very bright career ahead! (I know so because this song has been stuck in my head for so long now and not many country acts have caused that effect in me!)
1) Hi Natalie! Where are you answering this Q&A from and how’s your day been like so far?
I’m at my house in Nashville, and I just got home from writing a really fun song with 2 writers I had never written with before. They were both awesome, and the sun is shining outside, so it’s a great day so far.
2) You are from Columbia, Tennessee. Was it hard for you to leave your hometown to pursue your dream of a recording artist career?
Not at all. I am so fortunate that I grew up just an hour from Nashville. I was always in Nashville performing or taking voice or fiddle lessons as a kid, so I already knew this is exactly where I wanted to be. My whole family is close by as well, so I am very thankful for that.
3) Is it true you performed at The White House and The Oprah Winfrey Show.? When did that happen?
Yes! When I was younger I won the “Trix Silliest Kid in America” Contest. A couple of years later Oprah was doing a show on her “funniest viewers”. Not funny “ha ha” but more like “stupid human tricks” kind of funny. Unbeknownst to me, Trix sent in my tape to Oprah and and she asked me to be on the show. I did my whole baby cry act - that won me my title + she had me play the violin between my knees.
Singing at the White House was such an honor. I was asked to sing “God Bless America” at the White House Press Correspondents’ Dinner. It was one of the most surreal moments to be standing in a ball gown singing with the First Lady on my left and the President on my right. As I walked off the stage President Bush put his hand out, like a low five, and said “You nailed it!” Best. Compliment. Ever.
4) What were some of your musical influences growing up?
I was obsessed with Michael Jackson and Aerosmith. And I idolized Reba, Garth Brooks, and Shania Twain, too.
5) How did you meet the other members of the band and how did the idea forming a band come up? And why “The Drive”?
I met James (drummer) in college. We had formed a band in college and were the only members to move down to Nashville after graduation. When we started looking for new members down here, we put an ad on Craig’s List which is how we found Miguel. And then a mutual friend introduced us to Joel. After years of playing together it just didn’t feel like it was only “Natalie Stovall” anymore. I wanted to give the band a name to recognize the fact that I don’t sound like me without them! And well… The Drive… cause it’s all we ever do. And not to be super cheeseball but it’s what you have to have to survive this business!
6) Was your sound well defined from the very beginning or did you “polish” your sound of country music as you became closer as a group?
Our sound has happened naturally over time. And I think that is something that is and will constantly be evolving. As creative people, we always want to push ourselves. We want to grow. And with each and every time we make a record, I feel like we have added something, some element to our sound. Sometimes it’s obvious and sometimes it’s intangible. But we're always growing.
7) During your career you have worked with legendary Grammy award-winning producer Paul Worley. How did you get him to produce for you and what was the chemistry like in the studio?
It was such a gift to work with Paul Worley. He truly is a master of his craft and just being around him and his wealth of knowledge is inspiring. He came out to a show we were playing and we all thought we were just gonna have a “We got to meet Paul Worley” story. But after the show he said, “We need to make a record together!” We couldn’t believe it. And being in the studio with him was such a beautiful experience. It’s a LOT of work - he’s not easy on ya, but you don’t want him to be. Paul is one of the most giving individuals I’ve ever known and he will always be a dear friend. And I hope we can get in the studio with him again soon!
8) Paul Worley has compared you to Lady Antebellum saying that when he first saw you live, he saw the same potential he saw in Lady Antebellum when he first saw them a long time ago. What do you think about this?
Oh Good Lord. That’s quite the compliment. I am so thankful that he puts us in that kind of company. I have so much respect for him and what he does that it makes me need to pinch myself to have him say that about my band and me.
9) A very difficult moment in your career was when your first label closed and left you stranded. What was your first reaction to this news and did you feel worried at the time about how that would affect your career?
I was so heartbroken. I remember feeling like I needed to put my armor on cause I knew it wasn’t gonna be easy. Record labels are partners. They provide a lot of help - in finances, publicity, radio, marketing, and even just the status it gives you to be a “signed” artist. And all of a sudden that help came to a screeching halt. But my band and I are no strangers to being independent artists. We built our career on it. So we knew we could handle it. And thank goodness I have my band of brothers to get me through. But I know that it will be a chapter in my career that I am thankful for later on. It’s not fun in the moment, but it has already provided me with creative inspiration and also with relationships that I wouldn’t have had otherwise!
10) You have a new EP out on iTunes and you got to funds to release it by means of a KickStarter campaign, where you raised exactly what you wanted within your deadline. How grateful are you for the people that believed in your talent and in your potential that were willing to actually spend their own money to make the release of your new EP possible?
I could never show my gratitude enough. To know that people believe in us that much gives us the confidence and ability to continue on. It’s all about getting our music out there to the people! And the people are the ones that made that possible! It’s a beautiful thing, and I promise to keep making music and trying to make them proud!
11) Tell us a bit about your new EP. How is it theme and sound-wise?
You’ll definitely hear a common theme among many of the lyrics about “Not giving up”. Hmmm wonder why that could be? But we pushed ourselves sonically on this one - we experimented with different producers and different sounds that we had never tried before. I wanted to add more layers to this record, and we definitely achieved that!
12) Your newest single is called “Heartbreak”. What’s the story behind this particular song?
I went in to write with 2 people I had never met before (much like today!) and we were talking about HitShop closing down and everything I was going through with that. I was comparing it to a romantic relationship and how it really is like a break-up that tests you in ways you didn’t see coming. And thus the song was born.
13) As can be seen in the official “Heartbreak” music video, girls today have a difficult time finding their Mr. Right. What advise would you give to your female fans to try and find the “right” love?
Don’t be with anyone who doesn’t make you feel happy! If you are with someone and you realize you are either always sad or frustrated or negative when that person is around… that is not a good thing. Our significant other should lift us up. It’s a team sport - this relationship thing - and both sides need to do their best to make the other one better.
14) What are Natalie Stovall and the Drive’s Top 5 songs of the moment?
I don’t know if the boys agree… but they aren’t here right now ;) So here’s my current Top 5:
"Peter Pan” - Kelsea Ballerini
"My Church” - Maren Morris
"Die A Happy Man” - Thomas Rhett
"Humble and Kind” - Tim McGraw
“No” - Meghan Trainor
15) If you could record a collaboration with any other country singer or band, who would it be, why, and how do you imagine your song to be about/sound like?
I run through my mind of all the people I would love to sing with. All the people I would love to create music with. And I keep coming back to Dolly. I’ve never met her. But I want to know what it’s like to harmonize with that voice. Plus, how much fun would that be!?
16) I’m sure that throughout your career you have ran into some big names of the country music scene. Have you received any great advice?
One of my favorite pieces of advice came from Charlie Daniels. He was at a show and it wasn’t sold out - the theater was only about 2/3 full. And his opening act - another prominent country artist asked him, "Charlie, how do you deal with it when it’s not a packed house?” He looked at her and said, “I’m not playing for the people that didn’t show up.” And I think that right there is why he is Charlie Daniels. Whether it’s 5 people or 5,000, I want to give everything I have into each performance. I want to play music as long as people will listen. And every person that shows up deserves a great show.
17) Thank you for your time, Natalie! Any last thing you’d like to share with our readers?
Thank you. Thank you for listening. Thank you for coming out to see us play. Thank you for giving me a career. Now let’s take it to stadiums.
Peace. Love. Fiddle.
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