Madeline Edwards is embracing change in 2021. With a brand new gospel-pop record coming out January and a big move to Nashville planned, she’s ready for something new. We chatted with her about everything she has going on in her career and how she's gotten there. From being raised in California and Texas to the challenges she's faced coming from a mixed-race family, there's no shortage of inspiration when it comes to her music. Keep reading to learn more about Madeline's story.
Ranch Road Lightning Round:
What is your favorite way to wear boots?
I love styling my boots with some cutoff shorts or a romper to show off a little leg ;)
“I feel like when I walk into a room, I’m making a statement that my style is a reflection of the music I create.”
Favorite boots from Ranch Road Boots:
I absolutely love the Presidio Short in Cognac!
Favorite cowboy-ism? -- by cowboy-ism, we mean fun cowboy/western phrase, like..”git’r’done” or “save a horse, ride a cowboy” etc.
“Airin’ the lungs” - when you’re cussing, usually in anger or frustration.
What’s your personal superpower?
I have the ability to play piano eloquently with one hand, while making a coffee and typing and email (or online shopping) with the other hand.
What is the most “Texas” thing about you? (ie, a personality trait, item, interest, etc. that would be a dead giveaway that you’re from the Lone Star state)?
The most “Texas” thing about me is my undying love for a Ranch Water drink (made with Topo Chico). It wasn’t ‘til I started ordering this drink from other bars out-of-state that I started realizing that this was a Texas staple and specialty, that not many other people outside of Texas know about.
1. What do you love about western culture? How do you channel your inner “cowgirl” in your work, life and style respectively?
I love the history behind western culture. My dear friend Russ, who actually plays guitar and pedal steel for a few artists in Texas, taught me the differences between “Country” and “Western” and how much western music and fashion is a blend of many different cultures like Cowboy Culture, Native American, Spanish, African American, midwest culture, etc. Seeing that I, myself, am also a blend of many different cultures and ethnicities, something about that just really appealed to me. I channel my inner cowgirl by finding a way to embrace and showcase these different cultures in my style of music and fashion, whether it’s throwing on a leather fringe jacket over a T-shirt or adding a flare of Spanish elements into a country song that I’m writing. It brings a lot of diversity.
2. You were raised in California but now live in Texas. What was the transition like from the west coast to Texas?
I moved close to entering high school, so it was a hard transition at first, obviously. When you’re a teen, you have no idea who you are and what you want. I really missed the beach for the first few years I lived in Houston, I longed to be closer to the ocean (and not Galveston lol). It wasn’t until my college years that I really started embracing being a true Texan and all the things that came along with that like diving into the Texas music scene, and traveling all over the state and seeing all the beautiful scenery this big ‘ol state has to offer.
3. What is your favorite thing about Texas? What keeps you there?
My favorite thing about Texas are the people. I’ve formed some of my deepest and truest friendships and relationships here. People here have seen a lot of pain and hurt but also have experienced a lot of love and joy. I’ve learned a hell of a lot from the people that have embraced me here.
Madeline photographed by Bethany Brewster
4. What about your story makes you unique-- how does that drive your “craft” or work as an artist? Tell us a little bit about how you grew up.
I’ve lived on both sides of the track. I come from a mixed-race family - my mother is Polish-Jewish and my father is black. I’ve lived in very liberal and conservative places. I am friends with both creatives and intellects. My very “split” life, for a lack of a better word, has given me a very un-biased and unique view of the world. It reflects in my writing. It shows in my storytelling. I think everyone could use a dip into double perspectives like that. It helps one to become more empathetic.
5. Do you have a favorite cowgirl/boy throughout time/history? Who is it and what do you love about them?
Jeremiah Johnson (Yes, I know he’s a fictional character). But I mean, come on. What a badass. Adopts a semi-orphaned son. Marries an Indian princess. Survives snow storms and ambushes. Low key, I want to be him.
6. Who are some of your greatest musical influences? How do they inspire you to carve your own path in the music industry?
I have a pretty wide range of musical influences from Etta James, Amy Winehouse, John Mayer, Ray Price, Ella Fitzgerald, Kacey Musgraves, Fleetwood Mac, The Carpenters, Bread, Tame Impala, Khruangbin, etc. They inspire me to not follow the trends or mainstream. They stuck to their own original style. My sound is consistently evolving into a blend of all these influences and I am inspired by these artists to continue to evolve this sound and stay true to myself, even if my style doesn’t sound like everyone else.
7. You are a self-described “jazz-fusion” artist. What does that mean? What influences led you to this particular genre?
Jazz fusion is blending jazz into every genre I sing. I consider myself to be a multi-genre artist - I’ve done soul, in January, I’ll be dropping a gospel-pop record, and in 2021, I’ll be producing a country record. Jazz is the very first style of music that I grew up on so I love subtly blending it into every genre I pursue. Artists like John Mayer, Kacey Musgraves and Alabama Shakes have been prime examples of how to blend jazz-like elements into their own styles of music.
8. You recently shot some new photos in Ranch Road Boots for a rebrand. Are you taking your music in a different direction? What does this mean for you as an artist?
I absolutely did! I am freaking recording a dang country record in Nashville! Ranch Road is such an inspiration, not only with their style of boots but the culture they cultivate. My music is diversifying. My songwriting and story-telling are evolving. Everything is changing and I’m here for it. I couldn’t be more excited. This new country direction is bringing me back to my roots and challenging everything I thought I knew. I’m becoming a better artist by going in this direction.
9. What are some personal barriers / challenges you’ve faced in your career as a musical artist? Are there any barriers you are looking to break with your music?
A lot of barriers that I’ve had to overcome is learning how to not to compare myself to other people. It’s very easy to look at other artists and compare their success to yours. What I’ve been learning as I get older is that everyone is in “their own” season of success, because my idea of success may look differently than someone else’s, and there might be opportunities that I have that other artists don’t have and vice versa. Comparison is the biggest thief of joy. The barriers I hope to break with my music is use it as a reminder to myself and to others to keep after your own dreams and not chase other peoples’.
Madeline photographed by Bethany Brewster
10. What is the message you want people to get when they listen to your music? How do you hope to inspire others through your music?
The hardest lesson I’ve ever had to learn in life is to not avoid pain. The biggest cause of growth is going through seasons of pain; it’s the one thing that makes us stronger. That has been a consistent message in my music and a message that I will continue to emulate in my writing for the future. My life story reflects this motto in my music as well.
11. Is there anything people would be surprised to hear about you that they don’t already know?
I was a child model for the Ford modeling agency in Los Angeles, often appearing on Mattel Barbie products, Playstation commercials, Martha Stewsrt magazines and Talbots catalogues from age 4-11.
12. What’s next for your career? Any dream goals / collaborations?
I am Nashville bound! January is going to be a busy month for me - I’m going to be releasing the gospel-pop record that I’ve been working on for the past year, will be getting married and then moving to Nashville with my soon-to-be husband to work on this country record. There’s a lot of change coming. I would love to collab with some fellow-writer friends like country artist Tiera or my good friend Kam Franklin (lead vocalist for The Suffers) on some country stuff. One of my dream collabs for the last few years has been anything with the band Khruanbin. They’re my absolute favorite. But yeah, we’ll see where this year takes us.
Madeline photographed by Bethany Brewster
13. What is next for your music? Is there anything you want people to know about that’s coming out? Share any “news” you want us to include in the write up.
In January, I will be releasing a gospel-pop record titled “The Road” that I’ve been working on for the past year. It’s a different but familiar sound for me. It stays consistent with my jazz roots, per usual, but it starts to touch on elements of this country direction that I’ve been going in. I’m very excited for it. Then, not too soon after that, you will be hearing me release country music. It will be a perfect transition and I’m so ready for it!
Follow Madeline's journey here.