Skyla Spencer, from Buckhannon to Nashville
Buckhannon’s Skyla Spencer got her musical start listening to classic country and singing in church. Skyla has a degree in dance and psychology from WVU; while in college, she was a member of Orchesis Dance Ensemble and Mountain State Jazz Ensemble. Skyla currently lives in Nashville. For more info, check out www.skylaspencer.com.
Graffiti: How would you describe your songwriting process?
Spencer: Most of the songs I write are from experiences I have had or from stories I have heard from people I know, even strangers. All experiences, both good and bad, can trigger an idea for a song. I believe the saying is true: There is something good that comes out of a bad situation. I usually build my song around the hook line. In some cases though, I start with the verse and stumble onto a good hook idea. I also write most of my melody without guitar, a capella. I then will add the guitar.
Graffiti: You had a TV show that aired out of Buckhannon. Tell me about that.
Spencer: I hosted a country and Gospel show in Buckhannon for two years. I performed original and cover songs. I also invited other local artists to be my guests. Hosting the show I believe prepped and taught me many things about being in front of the TV camera. I remember how nervous I was the first time I did my show compared to the last — I think I looked white as a ghost. Over time though I became more comfortable speaking in front of a camera. Singing never seemed the issue but talking was more of the challenge at first. We would usually keep things rolling without stopping for as long as we could. The show was always pre-taped. Even today, I have thought about starting my show from Nashville.
Graffiti: You live in Nashville. How long did it take after you got there to get management, gigs, etc.?
Spencer: It took me about a little over a year to really start meeting and connecting with people. So much about this business is networking. You really have to jump in there and get involved in as much as you can. You never know where things will lead you. I took guitar, voice and songwriting workshops for about one to two years. I met with some producers in town; that led to meeting a musician named James Hedden. He helped put my first band together. He now plays for Rodney Atkins. From performing and networking came booking agency and management opportunities. Currently I am with NEA — National Entertainment Agency out of Arkansas.
Graffiti: How did you get your Armed Forces touring gig?
Spencer: I submitted my press kit to the Armed Forces. I was notified by AFE to do a tour that fall. Honestly, at first I thought it was a friend playing a prank on me, but then realized when the voice mail said, “Captain,” etc., that this was real.
Graffiti: Where have you played in West Virginia?
Spencer: I have performed at WVU, Strawberry Festival, West Virginia Wesleyan Homecoming, Maple Syrup Festival. I also spend time visiting the hospitals and nursing homes over the holidays.
Graffiti: How often do you get back home?
Spencer: Usually twice a year. It is about 10 hours away.
Graffiti: What’s the biggest gig you’ve played?
Spencer: I opened for John Anderson, Jimmy Wayne and John Conlee. I would say over 3,000-plus people for each concert.
Graffiti: Do you have any celebrity stories?
Spencer: When I signed at CMA Fest/Fan Fair two years ago, I met John Razenberger. I admit that was the first time I was star struck. He came over (and) bought my CD. I signed it for him and he said he was going to listen to it on the flight back to California. He was going on a fishing trip. He was super cool and I was thrilled to meet him. I kept wanting to call him Cliff, though, which was funny.
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