Flower Mound country star competes in new contest

Published in The Dallas Morning News on Sept. 16, 2015

Kaylee Rutland, a Marcus High School graduate, is now an up-and-coming country singer and songwriter.

The 20-year-old debuted with her first EP, Kaylee Rutland, in 2012 and a single “Into The Circle” featuring Colt Ford and Grammy-nominated, platinum-selling country star Jamie O’Neal in 2013. She released her second EP, Good Day to Get Gone, last summer. In June, neighborsgo reported that she was working with O’Neal on a new music tentatively set to be released later this year.

She is also competing in Nash Next competition, an online talent competition in its first year. Nash Next, who produces the competition, is a new record label under the Nash Country umbrella of Cumulus Media. Nash Country has signed the likes of Reba McEntire and Martina McBride.

Rutland said she’s excited about the Nash Next contest.

“It really connects in today’s market with how we engage and interact online,” she said. “The entire experience has been so fun and I’ve learned a lot about the different deadlines, social engagements and the quick pace of entertainment.”

Briana Mendoza, who is on Rutland’s public relations team, said Nash Next is an innovative online talent competition that has never been done before.

“But similar to an online American Idol in that they’re looking for America’s next big star,” Mendoza said. “So far it’s pretty awesome.”

The contest is comprised of six challenges total, with four remaining. Rutland is No. 1 on the leader board.

The Challenge started June 15 and ends Dec. 6. It was open to solo modern country artists and modern country bands. Entrants were U.S. citizens or a permanent legal U.S. residents, at least 16 years old, and not employees or immediate family members of any Cumulus Media subsidiary companies.

During the audition period, artists created profiles on a web platform made specifically for the competition. Like other social networks, the artist’s mission is to engage with fans and get people to visit their stuff and vote for them by Aug. 7.

The platform gave musicians a score on how much engagement they received.  Organizers selected the top-100 scoring entrants during the audition period as competitors.

Mendoza said Rutland rocked the audition period, catching the attention of contest organizers and partners before the competition truly began. Rutland released some songs she had been working on for an album earlier in the summer exclusively on Nash Next to give her a boost in popularity.

The first challenge was to do a cover video of one of three songs. There were two days of voting. The judges’ opinion was 70 percent of the score and ranked the top 85 for the challenge, cutting the bottom 15.

This week, Rutland finished the end of the second challenge – a Twitter challenge where she was tasked with creating a jingle for Nash Next. She remains in first place as contestants go into the third trial, to cover a Justin Bieber or Ariana Grande song.

Radio station 99.5 The Wolf in Dallas has been promoting her throughout the competition with tweets saying “She’s from Dallas & she’s really talented! Let’s help her out Wolf Fans!”

If Rutland holds on to first place through the end of the sixth challenge, she will receive a recording contract on Nash Next.

Rutland said she also enjoys the competition because of the other contestants and would still be happy to see one of them win.

“All of the contestants are so talented,” she said. “It’s fun watching and learning from each of them as well.”

In the meantime, Rutland is still going to school at Belmont University in Nashville and performing shows like at GrapeFest in Grapevine and Festival at the Switchyard in Carrollton on Nov. 7.

Kaylee Rutland talks about new EP release

Published in The Lewisville Texan Journal on April 6, 2016

Kaylee Rutland, a Marcus High School graduate, announced she will release her third EP, “That Side of Me” by early summer.

Rutland, 20, said this EP will slightly differ in style from her others to make her music accessible to more people. The reason, she said, is so that her lyrics in the semi-autobiographical EP can have an impact on more lives.

“Especially in a time of rebellion and edginess, I want to be committed to keeping my music and image wholesome for young girls, as well as enjoyable for those my age and older,” she said. “It’s really important for me to do this as I perform and enjoy modern country while honoring traditional country.”

So, “That Side of Me” was written in a modern contemporary style of country but includes traditional elements like banjo and mandolin, she said.

The country singer debuted with her first EP, “Kaylee Rutland”, in 2012 and a single “Into The Circle”. The song featured Colt Ford and Grammy-nominated country star Jamie O’Neal. She released her second EP, “Good Day to Get Gone”, in 2014. Billboard magazine then named her a Country Artist to Watch and she was featured on CMT.com.

The newest EP will have six songs that, when listened to in the correct order, tell the story of the cycle of a relationship. It starts with the honeymoon phase.

“Then it hits the typical angry at your boyfriend song, the breakup song, the nostalgic song and the moving on song,” she said. “All that leads into the final song about finding love, which starts the cycle over.”

Rutland said that each song was inspired by different memories from her own relationships, or are drawn from stories of her friends’ experiences. So Rutland wanted the EP’s booklet to have lyrics printed on each page with open line so listeners can write their thoughts about their own relationships.

“People can use it as a diary entry or their own song lyrics they come up with,” she said. “Because the album does tell a story, I wanted people to be able to tell their own stories too.”

The nostalgic song, titled “Always Summer”, is one of her two favorites on the CD, she said.

“One of the lines talks about a box of mementos I keep from old relationships,” she said. “Everyone has a box like that and can relate to the powerful memories hidden away in the box.”

Her other favorite song, “U and the Universe”, appeals to her love of fairy tales, she said. It tells the story of a woman falling in love on a perfect night “when you can’t believe you’ve fallen for this person so hard.”

“As I’ve gotten older, as other girls, we’ve held onto the idea of a Prince Charming or knight in shining armor sweeping us off our feet,” she said. “You deserve that and that’s the message of the song.”

The EP’s narrative structure could leave the listener with ambivalent feelings, Rutland said.

“I could definitely see how people would hear a message of hopelessness in the sense that the cycle is starting over and is doomed to repeat itself,” Rutland said.

But her direction when writing was more hopeful, she said.

“The cycle may repeat itself a few times,” she said. “But the hope with having a song about falling in love again at the end of the EP is to leave listeners with the message that at some time you’re going to fall in love for the last time with the love of your life.”

Rutland wrote “That Side of Me” about a year ago with O’Neal, Lisa Drew, and Minnie and Jimmy Murphy.

It was originally set for release last year but Rutland wanted to compete in Nash Next, an online talent competition last fall. She saved the songs she had already written to release to her fans throughout the course of the competition, she said.

Nash Next, who produces the competition, is a record label under the Nash Country umbrella that has signed Reba McEntire and Martina McBride.

The final challenge in the Nash Next competition involved creating a music video. Rutland decided to make a video for “U and the Universe”, the last song on the EP. She finished the challenge in eighth place on Dec. 6.

“I was jumping around the room when I found that I made it into the top 10 and got to go on tour for the competition,” she said. The tour hit stages including the Gramercy Theater in New York and the House of Blues in Dallas.

Rutland said she will release a new music video this summer as well, but she hasn’t settled on which song yet. In the meantime, she continues to study music business as a junior at Belmont University in Nashville.

“My goal is to ultimately graduate with my music business degree but my main priority is and always has been music,” she said. “I haven’t released any LPs yet but that’s definitely something I intend to do. I’m always writing and in the recording studio, so new stuff is on the way soon too.”