She's only a junior in highschool, but Josey Milner has a bright future ahead of her.
A small-town girl, born and raised in Missouri, she is as down-to-earth as anybody. With the spunk of Taylor Swift and the feisty nature of Miranda Lambert (her personal idol), Josey has all the makings of a superstar, from her heartfelt performances to her relentless charm. Having only started pursuing her musical career last fall, things are already falling into place for the budding singer. Not only has she earned a spot to perform at BB King's during this summer's CMA week (a showcase presented by EAG Entertainment), but she has earned a nomination for Promising Singer at the 2013 Independent Country Music Association Awards, a honor she doesn't take lightly.
I recently had a chance to chat with Josey about all of this, and much more.
NG: You opened a show for Chris Cagle last year, correct?
Josey Milner: It was so awesome. Everyone was singing along to my songs. [They] were whooping and hollering whenever I was done. You know, whenever he got up on stage, he gave me a shout out. Everyone went crazy again. It was just such an amazing experience.
NG: Did you ever have a one-on-one talk with him?
JM: I wasn’t able to literally sit down and talk to him. I was able to meet him, and I got my picture taken with him. He also had a meet-n-greet that night, and he didn’t have a lot of extra time to be able to talk to him. But from the couple minutes I was able to speak to him, he was so humble. He was pretty cool.
NG: What was the biggest lesson you took away from that performance?
JM: The biggest lesson from him…it’s kind of the thing where you never give up. It’s look where you can get someday as long as you are determined and passionate and love what you are doing and don’t give up on it. To be able to meet someone of his status, it’s definitely inspirational in itself. You know, things are possible, as long as you do keep dreaming and believing.
NG: “Dead Flowers,” a Miranda Lambert song, was your first single. Why did you decide on that song?
JM: That’s just one where I was listening to the radio one day in the car. I was in the passengers seat [listening] and I was like ‘wow, this is such a good song.’ So, I just went in to the studio to have that one in my back pocket. I never really meant for it to do anything, especially do what it did. So, I went into the studio and did my own version of it. Whenever people heard it, they almost loved it as much as hers. You know, it got airplay all over the world, even in Japan and Germany and Australia and Belgium…and so many different countries. It was crazy to think that the song has had so many reviews on it. So many more people grabbed ahold of it because I did it.
NG: Now, you’re second single, “Not Pretty Enough,” did you have a hand in writing that?
JM: I did not, unfortunately. I really wish I would have. It’s such a great song, and the words behind it just go so well together. My manager Michael [Stover] is the one who actually found that song. He was watching a horror movie, which is kind of weird to think. [laughs] He was listening to it and thought it would be a really good one for me to do. He sent it over to me, and I listened to it. It was another one where I just fell in love with the lyrics. I went into the studio and got to work with some unbelievable people. When that song came out, it was crazy how well the production came out on it. Also, how people grabbed onto it once it was out. I think what really blew me away was how people understood the meaning and what it was trying to stand for. It was almost an overnight thing. I’m definitely very proud of that song.
NG: The song helped kick off an anti-bullying campaign? Can you tell me about your partnership with Angels and Doves?
JM: Yes, I joined with Angels and Doves, which is a national [anti-]bullying organization. With them, once school starts back up again, I will be going around talking to school about bullying and raising awareness for it. They also hand out bullying books to the teachers, faculty and staff to kind of instruct them on what to do if they witness bullying. They have a hotline for people to call, and they’re trying to do a really great thing. I’m really very proud to be part of that and to be able to stand up for such a great cause.
NG: Do you have personal experience with bullying?
JM: I have not been personally bullied. I have been fortunate enough to not have to deal with anything like that. I am a junior, almost a senior, in highschool, so it’s something I’ve seen quite a bit. I’ve always been that one person that if I do see it, I stand up for it and give people that don’t have a voice, I give them a voice. There’s actually quite a few people at school who don’t like me because I stand up for it. [It’s] the bullies, of course, that don’t like me. Like I’ve said before, I could honestly care less if people like me. I would much rather have people respect me for what I’m doing.
[Adding:] I grew up with having a strong head on my shoulders — to know what I want and stay strong for what I [believe in]. I think that’s definitely helped me out a lot.
NG: At the beginning of the song’s montage video, you have a quote from Chris Colfer talking about people that hurt you are like sandpaper. What does that mean to you?
JM: What that means to me is people that hurt you are like sandpaper and they can try to tear you down and tear you apart. There’s only so far that they can go, and you can’t let anyone bring you down, no matter how hard they try. You’re perfect in your own way, and you have no reason to believe anyone if they try to tell you otherwise. It’s just kind of a thing where there’s probably going to be people that’ll pick on you, and you just can’t let it get to you. You have to know that you are good enough. You’re here for a reason, and you’re gonna find that reason, as long as you don’t give up on yourself.
NG: Side note, are you a Glee fan?
JM: I am a Glee fan! [laughs] I watched it the first year it came out.
NG: Back to the music. Are you a songwriter?
JM: I am in the works of writing songs. I actually had a meeting with my producer last night, and we’re went through some songwriting. I’m a beginner at it, but I’m getting there.
NG: Do you find songwriting daunting? Or does it come easy to you?
JM: Since I’ve just started, it is pretty challenging — to find all the rhythms and the words that flow together. I’m so impressed by those people who put out #1’s constantly. You know, every song has to come from someone, and so for some people to write those songs and have those capabilities is so unbelievable. I hope that I can get to that potential someday.
NG: You’ve been working with Matthew Russo (Hall and Oates) and Larry Gann (Elton John). What is it like to work with them?
JM: It was almost scary at first. Here I am this small-town girl going into the studio with such professionals. They treated me like one of their own. They were so nice to be around. The atmosphere in there was so fun. They’re great people, and they’re awesome to work with. The production they put out with “Not Pretty Enough” was unbelievable, and that’s who I’ll be recording my new single. We’ve actually already started on it. I’ll be having my newest single coming out soon. I’m recording it at Awestruck. I’m so excited for this next one.
[Adding: The new single] is very relatable to me. It involves something I did before I did my music. I’ll put that out there.
NG: Is it a ballad or uptempo?
JM: Oh, it’s upbeat, and it’s fun. [laughs] I’m so excited for this one.
NG: You were nominated for Promising Young Artist at the 2013 Independent Country Music Association Awards. What went through your mind when you first heard the news?
JM: It was so humbling to know I was eligible for that award, especially with just getting started and already having chances like this. It’s crazy. The Independent Country Music Awards are pretty much the CMAs for us independent artists. So, it’s kind of a big deal. I was so excited once I found out about it, and to be able to be on the list with so many great people, it was so humbling in itself.
NG: Has anything surprised you about your fans?
JM: Everything has surprised me, from people following me on Facebook and Twitter to the views on Youtube. To know that I have so many people who support what I’m doing and enjoy what I’m doing is so awesome. I definitely really appreciate all the support from fans so far. It’s very exciting.
NG: What is your earliest musical memory?
JM: I would have to go with…we used to go horseback riding. Whenever I was about 3, we were out at Blue & Grey Park, and we had a campfire going. There was a truck that was backed up, and I was up on the tailgate of the truck. For some reason, I had a little lego leg from a lego table, and I was singing using it as a microphone. [laughs]
[Adding:] It [all] started early, I’m telling ya.
NG: Do you remember the first song you ever performed?
JM: I don’t remember which song it was. I do know it was a Garth Brooks song, though. I do know that.
NG: So, CMA Fest is coming up, and you’re performing at BB Kings. How exciting is that?
JM: Oh my gosh. I was so excited when I was going to be able to perform. I love Nashville as is, and to be able to perform down there, it’ll probably be one of the best times to be down there. [I’m] so privileged [to be down there] for it.
NG: Is this your first first time at CMA Fest?
JM: It is my first time!
NG: Are you going to be able to do any other events while you’re in town?
JM: We’re hoping to be down there on about June 3. I perform on June 7, so I’m hoping to be down there almost the whole week. I’m crossing my fingers.
NG: Maybe you’ll run into Miranda Lambert at some point.
JM: I would probably fall over and have a heart attack if I saw her. If you see some random girl laying in the middle of the street, don’t worry about it. [laughs]
NG: Are you currently working on a full-length album?
JM: Besides my single that we are working on right now, an EP is actually what we’re gonna do. We are in the works [for it] right now. We have pretty much all the songs picked out for that. It’s just the process of getting in the studio and getting them all done. We’re gonna keep playing out with my band. I have a couple of fairs that are lined up.
NG: Are you expecting to release the EP this fall?
JM: Yes. We were hoping to get it released early June, but with how things have gone…with how busy, I’ve been, I haven’t had a whole lotta time to be in the studio. The date’s been pushed back, but hopefully it’ll be out by fall.
NG: Besides Miranda, who would you love to collaborate with?
JM: I always like to stick with George Strait. He’s the King of Country Music, so you don’t really see him doing a lot of duets. I would love that.
Photo Credit: Facebook