By Aaron Wagner
Named Nashville’s Off the Row Breakout Artist of the Year for 2020, Caitlin Quisenberry is one of the most vocally gifted artists you haven’t heard of yet.
At only 13 years old, she auditioned for American Idol and received a Golden Ticket to Hollywood. She took that moment and absolutely ran with it, never looking back. Fast forward to years at Pepperdine University which gave her the roots of classical training, singing sacred acapela and opera in French, Italian, Latin, German and Spanish. The lead to studying abroad in Switzerland where she had the opportunity to train with a renowned opera singer.
Point being? This girl can absolutely sing. All you need to do is hear her sing for 10-15 seconds and you’ll quickly realize that she’s the real deal. Raised On It caught up with her to chat about her background, love for country music, and her two recent releases.
Quisenberry’s experience on American Idol, studying at Pepperdine and abroad in Switzerland provided her strong foundation in music.
“At Pepperdine, I was in their top traveling choir, which gave me the ability to blend my voice with others, harmonize and sing with live music and a conductor. We traveled around the US, as well as performed at the Prague Choral Festival. During my sophomore year, I studied abroad in Lausanne, Switzerland. I had the unique opportunity to study weekly with a renowned opera singer there, Karine Mkrtchyan. She was able to layer on more vocal techniques that really helped me with my range, diction and breathing,” says Quisenberry.
She continues, “During my time at Pepperdine, I had many solo performances and was also a Songfest Host, which is an event the entire school takes part in. Pepperdine prepared me to pursue music professionally through the perfect combination of weekly private lessons, performing with others, and many solo opportunities.
With such a diverse musical background and training, it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see her go the Broadway route in theater or even pop. So why country music of all genres? When asked she shared that she enjoyed singing country and bluegrass so much and was able to connect to it.
“It’s funny because I’ve heard my entire life from everyone listening to my music, that I have a country sound. No matter what I sing, everyone says I sing it with a bit of a country twang. The vocal coach I had while growing up had me sing all genres: pop, jazz, country and Broadway show tunes. Each one gave me different styles for my voice that I like to use to help stylize my country songs.”
I would love for them to say, “Oh my gosh! Caitlin Quisenberry is the female version of Chris Stapleton!”
“Going back to Pepperdine, at the end of my senior year, I was the only vocal student selected by the staff to sing in a bluegrass concert called Harbor Unplugged. That concert was a real turning point for me. For the first time, I was able to sing with Nashville bluegrass musicians. I had so much fun singing those songs and felt so connected to the music. I knew then, I wanted to be a country music artist.”
A few weeks ago she released the music video for her lead single “Blue” which is an absolute must-listen. “‘Blue’ is a poetic, timeless and beautiful, slower piece that stirs one’s emotions as you listen to the heartbreaking lyrics,” says Quisenberry. “It’s one of those pensive and haunting songs that stay in your mind after you’ve heard it, even if it’s just once or a couple of times. And lyrically, it encompasses all different types of grief and allows the listener to interpret the lyrics for their own needs.”
Her most recent release “SOS” is an absolute jam. When we described it as “catchy AF” in our new music roundup we were probably underselling it because while it is definitely catchy, Caitlin does such a great job vocally and the lyrics cleverly tell a story with a few fun play on words that will get you to chuckle.
Quisenberry shared more on the background of the song. “‘S.O.S.’ is spirited and breathes a take no-guff, female empowerment approach that embodies a lyrical vibe similar to Carrie Underwood’s ‘Before He Cheats,’” explains the Denver, Colorado native. “For me, this really moves my spirit—converting pain into power. And that’s what gives this song its depth and positive messaging, while being sung in a celebratory and empowering way of finally gaining self-respect.”
While there’s no doubt that Quisenberry can sing, what does she want fans to take away from her music?
“I would love for them to say, “Oh my gosh! Caitlin Quisenberry is the female version of Chris Stapleton!”Beyond that, I want my music to tell a story. I want my songs to put into words what people have a hard time expressing. When people hear my music, I want them to be able to connect with the lyrics, and feel the emotion when I sing.”
“I would love for my songs to help people know they aren’t alone in their pain of heartache, mistrust or their happiness, love, and joy. I really lean toward sad ballads, but I am always working to switch it up and have some fun upbeat songs you can forget about your problems and just dance to.”
Fast Money Questions
Favorite album: “Traveller” by Chris Stapleton
Dream collaboration: Chris Stapleton or Tyler Childers
Another rising artist we should be aware of: Nick Fabian
Favorite concert: Anything at Red Rocks Amphitheater
Favorite song you’ve written: “One More Chance” to be recorded at the end of May
A song you wish you would’ve written: “Cover Me Up” by Jason Isbell