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October 13th, 2023

Meet NewSong Finalist Stacy Antonel

Nashville artist Stacy Antonel makes clever, country-leaning Americana that feels both vintage and hyper-modern. Her “country jazz” vocals conjure the great singers of the 1920s-’30s, with the emotive power of country icon Patsy Cline. Rooted in classic country and laced with elements of jazz, pop, and R&B, Stacy’s narrative songs often feature unconventional themes. 

Stacy grew up near San Diego studying classical piano and cites an eclectic range of early musical inspiration: Tori Amos’s peculiar phrasing, Otis Redding’s rich melodic hooks. After winning televised singing contest “3 Minutes to Stardom,” Stacy quit her job to focus full-time on music. She began performing classic country covers as Ginger Cowgirl, and in 2017 moved to Nashville to record her self-titled debut EP, which was released in 2019. The album was praised by critics and led to tours in California, the Southeast, the UK, and Germany. 

Stacy is a finalist in the 2023 NewSong Music Performance & Songwriting Competition, which will take place on Saturday, November 18, at Citizen Vinyl in downtown Asheville, N.C. Learn more and purchase tickets HERE.

NewSong Music: What sort of music was playing in your house when you were growing up?

Stacy: My parents weren’t really into music, so other than a Celine Dion CD that my mom briefly listened to, most of the music in my home was my older sister’s. She listened to a lot of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, The Cranberries. Very 90s. 

What was your journey to music?
I took classical piano lessons from age 7 to 18, but I’m self-taught when it comes to singing. I was the only musical member of the family, and it didn’t really occur to me that it could be a career, so I stopped all my musical pursuits when I went to college. It was only 10 years later that I got back into it, when I started singing jingles for money while living in Argentina. Moving to Nashville in 2017 is when I really started writing songs and pursuing a career as an independent artist. 
What is the first song you wrote that you were proud of, and why?
The first answer that springs to mind is “Planetary Heartache,” which is weird because it’s on my most recent record, and I’m most definitely proud of the songs I wrote on my prior release. But I just think this song slaps, and I’m kind of amazed that I wrote it. Somehow it makes me feel like a real songwriter. 
What is your writing process like — do you write lyrics first, or music?
They usually come at the same time initially, and then there’s an editing phase. I find it more inspiring to write on the guitar, but I do figure out a lot of things on the piano because it’s my native tongue. Guitar is a new instrument for me, so there’s still a lot that I can’t do on it. As far as where I write, songs definitely come at random times, but the most important thing is that I sit down and force myself to just do it. As long as it’s quiet and I have my own space, it’ll work. When I’m on tour I particularly enjoy writing in random Airbnbs.  
Share a musical adventure from this summer with us — an experience that really stood out for you.
I went on my first solo tour this summer, which was something I was really scared to do. If I’m just singing, I don’t really get stage fright, but put a guitar in my hand and take away my band and I’m legit scared. It was cool to start unraveling the story I tell myself that I’m only worth watching if I can hide behind the really talented musicians that I usually play with. There were definitely some mediocre moments onstage but it forced me to grow a lot in a short period of time.