Following her high-school career at the First Academy, Lindsey Bryant was on the standard path into adulthood. With diploma in hand, she had enrolled at Southeastern University in Lakeland.
But, just two weeks before classes were supposed to start, Bryant felt something tugging her in a different direction. She was a born performer — first taking the stage in her church’s Christmas production at age 5. As a teen, she had begun writing her own songs.
She realized: It was now or never. And yes, college would still be there.
Now, eight years later, Bryant has a hit on her hands. Her self-titled debut EP, released Aug. 11, entered the iTunes country charts at No. 18 — just ahead of Taylor Swift’s “Fearless.” Better yet: It cracked Billboard’s Heatseekers — South Atlantic chart at No. 9.
“Lindsey is immensely talented vocally and in her storytelling ability as a songwriter,” says Michael Martin, vice president of members services for ASCAP. “We are excited about her future in country music and that she’s a part of the ASCAP family.”
Perhaps bailing on college plans was a bit of a gamble. But, what better person to bet on than yourself?
“It’s my first solo country record, and bottom line, this makes me feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be,” Bryant says. “It’s confirmation that I’m doing exactly what I should be doing.”
STRIP AWAY YOUR CAMOUFLAGE
Bryant’s path to her most recent success as a performer can be traced all the way back to her roots as a toddler born on the West Bank of the Mississippi River just outside New Orleans. Her parents — Jon, a Baptist music minister, and Annette, a piano teacher — instilled in her a love of music.
“I sang along to cassettes before I ever spoke,” Bryant says.
Her father’s job had the family bouncing around throughout the South, including stints in Georgia, easter Tennessee and, later, West Monroe, Louisiana. Yes, that West Monroe, of “Duck Dynasty” fame.
Bryant sharpened her chops performing at her father’s churches. She took some time away from the stage before returning after the family moved to Winter Garden and her father took a post at First Baptist Orlando.
“My dad had a singer who moved away,” she remembers. “He gave me a shot as a leader.”
That’s also when Bryant started putting pen to paper.
“Songwriting was a hobby,” she says. “It was a way for me to sort through feelings I had.”
This hobby caught the ear of a Christian recording artist and led Bryant to a gig as a touring backing vocalist. Disney also hired her as a performer, and when she wasn’t on the road, she was using her singing and dancing talents to entertain thousands in front of Cinderella’s Castle at Magic Kingdom and providing a voice to characters such as Ariel, Peter Pan’s Wendy Darling and even Cinderella.
“I’ll forever be grateful to Disney; it just took me to a new level of physicality and connecting with people as a performer,” Bryant says.
Bryant’s first opportunity to showcase her own songs began in 2011 through a songwriting partnership with two other Orlando-based musicians. Together, the three recorded a benefit for album for military personnel that took them on a tour around military bases in Europe. Later, the trio released a pop-country EP and led to an opening slots for Montgomery Gentry and the Eli Young Band and opportunities to perform in venues such as Orlando’s Amway Arena and Boston’s Fenway Park.
FAR ENOUGH THAT WE COULD SEE THE STARS
After that trio disbanded, Bryant regrouped and in December 2014, decided finally to launch her solo career.
“I keep a list in my phone of song ideas,” she says. “Lyrics and stuff like that.”
She teamed up with vaunted Nashville songwriter Cindy Morgan and Grammy-winning producer Pete Stewart to refine her ideas into a collection of five radio-ready, pop-country tunes that are both insanely catchy and reflective of Bryant’s personality.
“The folks in Nashville are so good, and the songs are incredible,” she says. “As a new singer-songwriter, I was open to collaborating to make the music the best that it can be.”
In February, she spent a week in Nashville to lay tracks for the EP. Six months later, she hosted an invitation-only release party for family and friends at the Garden Theatre in Winter Garden.
“That was the first time my name was on a marquee,” she says, smiling. “I love that (venue); it was the perfect size for this.”
Bryant cites a wide range of influences, including the Rascal Flatts, Jo Dee Messina, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Brothers Osborne and Keith Urban.
“I sense, in country music right now, people want fun, upbeat songs — not heartbreak,” she says. “Lyrically, country music is all about storytelling. People can connect and relate to a country song.”
And as her career continues to blossom, Bryant plans to keep that authenticity in her music by keeping her inspiration close. Her husband, Bryan Guillot, and his father serve as her PR and marketing team. Together, they are working to promote Bryant’s EP and secure more performing opportunities.
Bryant and Guillot met through their fathers, and the two have been inseparable since their first date more than five years ago. One of the EP’s tracks, “Name Changer,” is a love song to Guillot. And, of course, Bryant carries her husband’s first name with her as part of her stage moniker.
“It’s a great partnership,” Bryant says. “I’m the artistic one, and he’s all business, so it works out well. We complement each other.”
And what if it doesn’t work out? Bryant says she’s ready for that, too.
“Here’s what I said when we started: ‘What’s worse than failing? Not trying,’” she says. “When I wake up at 50 years old, I want to know I gave this my best shot. If I do that, I’ll be completely happy.”
Contact Michael Eng at [email protected].
Lindsey Bryant’s self-titled debut EP was released Aug. 11 and earned spots on both the iTunes country and Billboard’s Heatseekers — South Atlantic charts in its release week.
The EP is available for download on iTunes and Amazon and streaming on Spotify.
For more information, visit lindseybryantofficial.com.