Traci Ann Stanley On Opening for Chesney and Rimes
Singer-songwriter Traci Ann Stanley hails from Prichard, W.Va. Her musical influences include Loretta Lynn, Miranda Lambert, Norah Jones, Darrell Scott and Jennifer Nettles. Recently, she won the opportunity to open for Kenny Chesney and LeAnn Rimes on the Poets and Pirates Tour in Charleston, W.Va., as a finalist in the “Next Big Star” competition. For more info, check out www.myspace.com/traciannstanley.
Graffiti: Tell me about the process of winning the Big Star contest and opening for Kenny Chesney.
Stanley: It was crazy. It all happened so fast. Charleston was one of the earlier stops on the tour, so by the time the news about the contest was first released, you only had a few weeks to send your video in. I usually stay away from the whole cattle call, cookie cutter, “American Idol” contest things. But this one was different in several ways. First of all, it was headed up by someone who had actually been through the business as an artist. You also had to submit original material. I thought well … if I’m being asked to play my own songs … that can’t be half bad. The chance to play the show in Charleston seemed like reason enough to give it a shot. So I made a home video of me and my guitar and an original song in my bedroom and sent it in. To be honest, I don’t know if I expected anything or not. But on the same day of the album release … I got a phone call. Needless to say, that was a great day.
We went to play the battle of the bands at Quaker Steak and Lube in South Charleston. There were three other finalists from West Virginia we had to compete with. They were all very, very talented. But we were so on that night, it was crazy. I had so much fun and we got such a great response I convinced myself it didn’t matter if we won or not. And it really didn’t. But they announced “Traci Ann Stanley” as the winner and you would’ve thought a bomb had gone off the way I jumped. I cried. My family cried. It was awesome. So was opening for LeAnn Rimes and Kenny Chesney.
Graffiti: Up until that point, what had been the biggest gig you’d ever done?
Stanley: I opened for Kellie Pickler at the Lawrence County Fair, probably around 6,000.
Graffiti: Do you have a management team?
Stanley: I don’t have a management team. I do however, have a huge network of family and loved ones who help me a great deal. For the most part, I do my own booking. I owe most of my merchandise sales and my wardrobe to my wonderful family and extended family. They are the greatest support system ever and they make sure show dates run smoothly for me.
Graffiti: Where in West Virginia do you perform?
Stanley: In the summer and fall, we really try to hit the fairs and festivals. This year was our first year playing Riverfest in St. Albans, which was awesome. We opened for Daryle Singletary and Ricochet. I also play smaller venues with just me and my guitar, mostly Huntington and Ashland — Holderby’s Landing, American Legions, Route 60 Music, Boston Beanery, Paramount Coffee Houses.
Graffiti: Do you come from a musical family?
Stanley: Actually, not really. No one in my immediate family is particularly musical. But my grandma rocks. She used to play guitar and sing country music just like me, gospel, too. Everyone says she had star quality back then and could have made it if she had really wanted to. We still sing old hymns sometimes. She’s one of my biggest fans.
Graffiti: What music are you listening to these days?
Stanley: I tend to listen to a lot of country radio just to stay on the up and up. But I listen to all sorts of different genres. I’ve been rockin out to some serious Crossfade lately. Also, Darrell Scott, Kelly Sweet, Third Day, Holly Brook, Marc Cohn, The Steel Drivers.
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