By Aaron Wagner
She’s written a streaming hit with Walker Hayes and Shane McAnally and now she’s launching her solo artist career. This week’s Artist You Need to Know is Gabrielle Mooney.
You probably recognize the Mooney last name and yes in fact, Gabrielle is the sister of Shay Mooney from Dan + Shay, but don’t be mistaken – Gabrielle has the songwriting skills and the voice to make a name for herself.
Gabrielle co-wrote Walker Hayes’ streaming hit (Over 30 million Spotify plays alone) “90s Country” with hit maker Shane McAnally and Walker himself. It’s a catchy song that lyrically is connected cleverly with plenty of references to songs from 90s country music – further proof that she has the ability to craft some down right clever lyrics.
Most recently, she released her debut single as a solo artist in “Come On In.” It’s one of those songs that just makes you feel good. It’s the type of song that wraps you in a hug, invites you to the Sunday dinner table which is full of love and laughter. It’s closing in on 150,000 Spotify plays and deservingly so as it’s the type of song that is perfectly made for country in 2021.
I caught up with Gabrielle to chat about “90s Country” and “Come On In” as well as her musical upbringing.
Because we are Raised On It, we love learning about the music that influenced artists. Which artists, country or otherwise, were you listening to growing up that have made you the artist you are today?
My parents were in a Southern Gospel group with my Granny and Papa Mooney when us kids were just babies. We used to travel around and fall asleep on church pews and would get up there with “The Mooney Family” and sing a song. I picked up the harmonica or the “French harp” as my Papa Mooney calls it. So believe it or not, Southern gospel was a huge influence on my life. We grew up on a farm, so in our little town country music was all that was played.
I loved Tim McGraw, Shania Twain, Rhett Akins, Dolly, Faith Hill, and was super into Keith Urban. My sister Erica’s first actual CD (I know…RETRO), was Bon Jovi. In my teen years I was SO INTO the rock scene. Anything with emotion because apparently my parents just DIDNT UNDERSTAND ME! The way I dress, the way I sing, the way I write…you get all of these influences wrapped up into one little emo country girl.
“90’s Country”, which you co-wrote with Shane McAnally and Walker Hayes, is a great feather in your hat. What was the process of writing “90’s Country” and what did you take away from that experience?
Walker is such a great guy and it was actually our first write together. Since we both grew up on that 90s country music, we just ran down all of our favorites and some made the cut, some didn’t. It was just a really fun walk down memory lane. I was informed that it could be on the album and it wasn’t on there. So I’m sitting here thinking, “dang it that would’ve been cool to have made it on there”. Then I get the news that it was his SINGLE and I got so stinkin excited. It was my first bigger cut and Shane is just UNREAL. It was such a dream. Sometimes it just takes writing a million songs for the one “special” song.
As you start your solo career as an artist, with a lot of styles falling under the country umbrella, what type of music do you want to make?
I don’t think I ever really think about “what kind” anymore. It’s more about what I have to say. Songwriting is so personal for me. Being a pretty emotionally guarded kid, I treated songwriting like my diary. I want to make music that connects people. When I would download a song I would listen to it over and over and over again when it spoke to what I was feeling at that time. Now I hear that song and it takes me back to that period of time I was experiencing. I want to create songs that will be a soundtrack to a part of someone’s story.
Talk about your debut single “Come On In.” I think it’s a great debut song for you as a new artist and 100k+ Spotify plays would agree. What’s it been like to release that into the world and the initial reception you’ve been receiving?
Thank you! It’s been amazing. I’ve worked on this song for over 2 years, and getting to share my family story has been such a blessing. I felt so proud of it, because if you came to my parents farm, it’s so accurate. My dad is in construction and always had work boots on the back porch. My mom made beans and cornbread for dinner and supper on sundays and would leave the beans cooking during church. My grandpa passed not long before this song was written so the reference to “my daddy sayin grace in my grandpas place” still makes me tear up. I’m very grateful for all of the love it’s gotten!
I’d be remiss to not ask about you and your brother Shay. With all of Dan + Shay’s success, how do you use that when you’re setting off on carving out your own path. Does it create more pressure or is it reassuring to know your brother has success and is in your corner?
I get asked this question so much! I love it! My brother is such an incredible person inside and out. Me and my sissy Erica STILL go to shows and bawl our eyes out with pride in full Dan & Shay gear like super fans. I’ve never wanted Shay to feel anything from me but support and love from me, so I’ve never felt comfortable “using” his success for my own gain. It has happened though! By sneaky Shay! And I’m not mad at it. My whole family would move Heaven and earth for each other. Erica and Shay are my best friends. Hannah and Cody (the amazing spouses) have been grafted into that best friend group. I think it’s been so helpful to have a huge cheering section for me and for Shay.
Favorite album of all time: “What To Do When You’re Dead”- Armor For Sleep
Dream collaboration: GWEN STEFANI
Song you wish you wrote: “Whiskey Lullaby” – Allison Krauss
First concert you remember going to: Gary Allan