It was a dream fulfilled when Alexandra Kay made her Grand Ole Opry debut last year. The Opry recently highlighted Kay, as part of their Opry Debut series, celebrating artists taking the sacred stage for the first time.
“It’s been said we create our own luck,” the Grand Ole Opry captioned the video. “Nothing could be truer for Alexandra Kay. The determined singer from Alton, Illinois was undaunted by early snags while pursuing a music career. She walked away from early disappointments only to independently build her own career through hard work and determination.”
In the video, Kay can be seen walking backstage for the first time, sharing how her unassuming childhood laid the path for her promising career in country music.
“I was born in Waterloo, Illinois, grew up going to Waterloo High School,” Kay says. “Didn’t do a whole lot more than really just go to the movies and listen to music, and drive the backroads. I know that sounds really cliché, but that was really all we had to do on the weekends, and I really loved it. It was a really slow and safe kind of life to grow up in.”
Kay recalls beginning to write songs when she was just 13 years old, much like her musical hero, Taylor Swift. It didn’t take long for her parents to catch on to the talent their daughter possessed.
“My mom said she kind of could tell that I could sing in church, so they got bits and pieces and tastes of it,” Kay recalls. “But I feel like when I was 15, 16, I got my first agent, started doing commercial work, did a lot of voiceover work, and then continued to write songs.”
Kay, like so many others, had hopes of appearing on a reality TV talent show to help her get discovered. Ironically, when that didn’t happen, the rejection became fuel under the fire for Kay to become laser-focused on her career in country music.
“It was not getting past the third round of American Idol that made me be like, ‘I’m pedal to the medal,'” the “I Hate Airplanes” singer remembers. “I’m not going to go to college, and take these softball scholarships. I want to dive right into the music business, and I want to give this all I got if I’m really going to try.”
Kay had a lot of hard seasons after making that decision, but she never wavered in wanting to do nothing but become a country music singer, regardless of how hard it was, or how long it took her, even if she had to do it by herself, without the help of a record label.
“I think that being an independent, I have felt a little bit on the outside, because there is a little bit of a stigma that if you’re not signed to a label, that there’s a lack of legitimacy, a little bit, with it,” Kay acknowledges. “I did feel that very early on in my career. And then I had to stop. I had to start just realizing that I’m not doing this for everyone else’s approval. I’m not doing this to look cool to my friends.”
Kay will kick off her Dive Bar Dreamer Tour on July 19 in Wichita, Kansas. The tour will wrap up on August 8 in Athens, Georgia. Find all of Kay’s music and upcoming shows at AlexandraKayOfficial.com.