The Shore’s Country Starlet

Aug 10 | Posted by: Sheridan Road Magazine

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Country musician and Winnetka native Elizabeth Lyons doesn’t sit still for long. When we speak she has just returned back from the Taste of Country Music Festival in New York, and the approaching weekend it’s another festival with Sam Hunt and Chase Rice at CountryFest and a concert for the Macy's iHeartRadio Rising Star Contest, where she will be performing as a Top 5 Finalist at the Skokie store. “Kiss FM is promoting it and I grew up listening to that station nonstop — it will be a really cool moment,” she says.


Though the 25-year-old lives in Nashville these days, she understands the importance in traveling back home every so often. So much so, in fact, that she penned a song titled “Made in the Midwest” from her sophomore album I’ve Never, which she released this February. Its chorus — “I’ve got that heartland heart and soul running through my veins, no matter where I go it’s going to show I was made, made, made in the Midwest” — is a fierce reminder of the North Shore native’s home region. “It’s a tribute to no matter where you go, you’ll always remember the Midwest,” she says.”


Lyons attended New Trier High School, where she dabbled in an array of activities, including musical theatre choir and classical piano. But it wasn’t until her first two years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison when she began interning in the summers at an Music Publishing company where she began learning the ropes of the industry and taking music more seriously. Upon returning back to Madison that fall, she knew what she had to do. “I ended up transferring to Vanderbilt to pursue music and realized I needed to be down here if this was really something I wanted to make happen,” she says. “It was the best decision I ever made.”


When she was just a senior in college she released her debut self-titled-EP, a six-song album that swept iTunes, Mediabase, and Billboard charts. Videos quickly became her forte, as well: Her single “#PartyRules” charted #1 on Country Music Video Chart on iTunes and #4 on CMT Pure channel, landing her right above Carrie Underwood’s “Something in the Water” video and right below Taylor Swift’s iconic “Shake it Off” sequence. “It was out of this world,” she recalls, naming Swift as one of her biggest influences for entering the music realm to begin with. 


“I had seen what she doing from a business perspective — that she was her own driving force — and that was really great for me to watch,” she says. That early admiration morphed in emulation soon enough. While most artists require a creative coordinator, art director, publicist, business manager, social media coordinator and beyond, Lyons is a one-woman operation. “I thank my parents because they always told me that the best way to get things done is to do it yourself,” she says. “I hope I can be a mentor and an example for that dreamer who wants to stay in school, because if you work hard, anything is possible.”


It seems that anything is possible for Lyons — including a second album inspired by the aspirations she, herself, never thought could come true. “I never thought I’d be following my dreams or releasing a second album or opening up for the artists I grew up listening to,” she says, referencing the Taste of Country Music Festival she just opened for Kenny Chesney. This summer there’s more: On Saturday, August 20 she’s playing a “Rock the Sox” show at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field before the White Sox go head to head with the Oakland A's. While she credits much of her success to other independently started acts like Florida Georgia Line and Chase Rice, she also turns to three words of advice from New Trier Varsity Tennis Coach Jerry Karzen. “He always said to us, ‘more than anything it’s about exercising patience, persistence, and perseverance.’”


Lyons hopes to help drive that message home to other students these days during her I’ve Never tour, which has taken her to Country Music Association Education Chapters at universities nationwide to speak to students about the inner workings of the music industry. “It’s hard when you’re at a school and don’t know where the music community is,” she says. “This is a great way for students to have that connection to Nashville.” 


The tour will wrap on September 17 in Clear Lake, Iowa — just 5 minutes from where she spent childhood trips visiting her grandpa, a musician who played the likes of Hank Williams Jr. and Johnny Cash, and the first country star in her life. The finale’s serendipitous location is just another example of life’s all too frequent full circle tracks for Lyons. “In life you have to always keep the faith, and you really never know where it will guide you,” she says. “It’s important for me to always be true to who I am and to never forget where I came from.”




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