NYCS Swag Spotlight Featuring Karen Waldrup
“Work hard, don’t stop, persevere and believe, because if you want something in life it’s not always so easy but every single moment that it took to get you to that point is justified.”
Karen Waldrup, this week’s Swag Spotlight spoke with New York Country Swag recently about her journey in the music business and how she is utilizing technology to reach her fans in new and innovative ways. Growing up in Lousiana, Waldrup recalls her sister sending away for country music CDs and they were always being played in her house. The Dixie Chicks, Trisha Yearwood, and Dolly Parton are just some of the influences that attracted her to the genre from a very young age. “I just thought it would be fun to write and create music, it was more about writing but once I started playing out for people I started to get addicted to the feeling of fans connecting to their own story to my music,” she explains. She started to write songs and learned to play guitar when she was still in high school but it was when she was in college at The University of Southern Mississippi that she started playing gigs and truly pursuing the career.
Moving to Nashville after college she got a job as a salesperson to pay the bills all while continuing to write and play around town. “This town has been such a beautiful gift, it is kind and the community is really nice,” she explains. Although she’s been in Music City for ten years now, she will never forget her southern Lousiana roots. She integrates a certain amount of soul and blues into the country genre, all the way being proud of who she is and proud that her home state accepts people for the good, bad, and the ugly.
As an independent artist, Waldrup decided to launch an Indiegogo campaign to fund her debut full-length album back in 2016. She recalls a particular moment during a live stream where a woman requested she sing the inspirational “I Hope You Dance” for her daughter’s birthday. The video almost instantly went viral, racking up over 29 million views and the cover was also appropriately the last song on the record. Check out the cover song below.
After going viral, the Indiegogo campaign was 100% funded and Waldrup was able to start recording the album she moved to Nashville to create. Cowriting 9 of the 11 tracks on her debut full-length album Justified, the sing-songwriter says it took a lot of time to decide on the songs that would compile a well thought out, themed record. She wanted to prove that every step along the way was justified to getting her to where she can now release an independent album of her own. “All of these people have justified that I can do this, every bar I’ve played, every private event, I have played in Tulsa, Oklahoma to two people and one was the bartender, I have paid my dues,” she tells us.
Utilizing technology and the power of social media, Waldrup has now built a family of fans across Facebook and Instagram totaling over 500 thousand people. They don’t only use social media to communicate with the artist and her team but also with each other, creating a welcoming space for people who love her music. She has a series where every Wednesday she posts a new video for her followers, allowing them to see into the life of the singer-songwriter. Another innovative way the artist is connecting with her fans is through Binge Networks, a network through smart TVs. All of her Waldrup Wednesday videos are now available through the Binge Network app, for more information head to bingenetworks.tv.
Social media has proved that you can interact with your fans in ways never thought possible before. Waldrup explained that someone said something to her recently and it really clicked how important the internet fanbase can be, “You created a career for yourself that may not have happened otherwise,” she says. “Back in the day if you didn’t have a fancy record deal, go back home.” Her latest single “Sometimes He Does” was written by Lori McKenna (“Girl Crush”, “Humble and Kind”) was just included in Rolling Stones “10 Best Country and Americana Songs of the Week” and the video premiered on CMT.com. “It melts my heart every time I hear it, I heard it 6 years ago and I ended up being able to record it and it ended up on my record by the grace of God,” she says of the single.
As for what’s next, she looks forward to the new year, touring and heading over to the Virgin Islands and Jamaica as well as Europe, promoting her album and meeting more fans. Keep up with Karen Waldrup on social media on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
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