A new era of RaeLynn is upon us.
Last month, the country music artist, 25, released her sassy latest single "Bra Off," simultaneously announcing she has signed with Round Here Records, the new label founded by Florida Georgia Line‘s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley. Then on Dec. 6, the Nashville star launched the music video for “Bra Off” with a premiere on a billboard in New York City’s Times Square — and PEOPLE was there with RaeLynn for the exciting occasion.
Since appearing on the second season of The Voice in 2012, RaeLynn has blossomed into one of the most promising young female voices in Nashville. Now the singer-songwriter is preparing to drop an EP in early 2020, her first release since her debut album, WildHorse, hit No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums Chart.
PEOPLE caught up with the "Love Triangle" singer about finding her voice in Music City, her life as a military wife with husband Josh Davis, hitting the road with pal Maren Morris and bonding with mentor Blake Shelton‘s girlfriend Gwen Stefani.
Tell me about joining the Florida Georgia Line guys at Round Here Records.
There’s something to partnering with a label run by artists because they know what it’s like to be unique and to tell your story in a unique way and having to fight for that. You shouldn’t have to fight for it — you should just be able to put that music out. It’s important to me to write what makes me happy, because I know it’s going to make my fans happy. My fans are all kinds of kinds; they’re not just your average country music fan. They’re just like me, and I’m not just a country music listener — I listen to everything. We’re all a melting pot, and I’ve realized on the road that’s what my fan base is. Anytime you do something a little different, I think that’s when the best songs come. It’s when you follow your heart.
So what is your vibe now?
It’s so funny, because if somebody said, “What does your music sound like?” I would say it’s like Dolly Parton with some 808 beats. If Dolly was a new artist now, growing up the way I grew up, I honestly think she would kind of be doing this. She’s edgy, as well.
You’ve been through a lot in the last 10 years — from The Voice to different recording contracts. It kind of feels like you’re hitting the “refresh” button right now.
It does. And I’m so grateful for every step of the way. I think some people can be jaded and look at their journey and just want success sooner, but I have had success. … I know that one of these [new] songs is going to take off and really take it to the next level, and all of these eight years have prepared me for the woman that I am today. And I know that whatever success comes my way, I’ll probably be able to handle it a little better than if I was 18. I always think about that. And I got to meet my husband, and he’s a hottie. Through this time, I’ve gotten to really figure out who I am as a person. And when you figure that out, you’re so much more confident growing into success and your music, and that’s reflected in the songs that you’re writing, too.
Let’s talk about your hot husband! He enlisted in the military after you guys got married in 2016.
It’s hard when the person that you love is not there, but we have mutual respect for each other and each other’s job, and at the end of the day I have to remember it’s his job. It’s hard for me, but I’m sure it’s hard for him when I leave or I’m gone for a long period of time. So it’s definitely a sacrifice. We don’t fight as much. And if you do, it’s over stuff that really matters, not stupid s—.
But Josh is one of the coolest humans ever, because he just lets me be the star that I want to be. He lets me create the music I want to create, and he’s a supporter of it. And honestly, he has enabled me to feel sexy and feel beautiful, and to me, that’s what a real man does. Every day, I’m just so impressed with him.
Have you found a new community now that you’re a military wife?
It’s been really cool to be embraced by the military community because there are so many Army wives out there that have to deal with their loved ones being away. It’s such a distinctive feeling, because it’s like you’re upset because you miss the person you love, but then also, they’re freaking sacrificing their lives for us, so it’s hard to be upset at the same time. But when you have a support system like that, it’s so great.
Earlier this year, you went on the road for Maren Morris’s all-female Girl: The World Tour. What an amazing lineup of women!
Oh my God, that was so much fun. My music’s a little more rednecky country than hers. But there’s one thing I love about her fan base: Everybody that comes to see her show knows that she’s different. She’s breaking the mold. So it ended up being such a great fit. That tour was one of the most incredible tours for me, just to have that female energy on the road, but to also meet all those different fans in all those different cities. We did three weeks in Europe, and we did 12 shows in 14 days. Maren’s such a blast.
There’s a big conversation in country music right now about women not necessarily being played equally on the radio. What does it mean to you to be a woman in country?
I think the bolder and the more unapologetic we each become, the more different we’ll all be, and hopefully, that’s when some things will start changing. I think we’ve just got to keep grinding it out and put out authentic music. And I think country women are doing it right now. Every woman in country music that I know is super-distinctive, and I think the tide is turning. I hope it is, because there’s so many amazing females that deserve a shot. And I feel like when you have that mindset — when you’re not writing for radio, but you’re writing for yourself — that’s when radio will start responding to your music.
Would you say The Voice prepared you for your career?
I would say it prepared me because I didn’t win. It gave me tough skin. You always have to have skin, but it really furthered the life I made for this, because right when you get back down, you have to get back up. I think the main thing that I’ve learned is you can take an opportunity like The Voice and you can live off its success, or you can put your head down and start working harder and grow that success. I think that’s the biggest thing that I tell anybody who wants to audition for those shows. The Voice is an incredible opportunity to get fans and to put your name out there, but it’s your job to take that and grow that.
You also met a pretty important mentor on The Voice — Blake Shelton.
Blake, first of all, is one of the most genuine humans I’ve ever met. I still talk to him at least once a week. He always texts me. He’s about as concerned as I am about my career. He’s always excited any time I have a success. Anytime I’ve ever had questions, he’s always helped me through it. Definitely when he and Adam [Levine] turned around, the best decision I ever made in my career was picking him because I don’t know what life would have been like without his support. And he loves my husband, which means a lot to me, too.
And you’ve gotten to know his girlfriend, Gwen Stefani, over the years. They even went to your wedding!
They’re so cute. I love Gwen. Gwen’s so nice to me. It’s so funny — I found a picture from 10 years ago; I used to wear her brand, Harajuku Girls, all the time. I told her that the first time I met her, and I definitely put my foot in my mouth. I was like, “Oh my God, when I was 13 I used to wear your Harajuku clothes all the time.” She was like, “You’re making me feel so old!” But she laughed it off. I think she thought I was cute. I just love her style, and I still fan-girl a little bit when she comments on my pictures on Instagram: I forget she follows me!