Today sees the release of ‘Can’t Buy Fun Like This’, the new single from Audra McLaughlin. We caught up with Audra to talk all things new single, her music career, her dream gig and more!
Hi Audra, first of all I’d like you to congratulate you on the release of the new single ‘(Can’t Buy) Fun Like This’. The song has an amazing summer vibe. How do you feel ahead of a release? Is it a mix of nerves and excitement?
Thank you so much! I am so glad you love the song, that means so much to me. I am always nervous when I release a new song because I am always afraid that my fans will not like it. I felt differently with this song because I felt that all of us needed a fun summer song after the year, we had with covid. I wanted to put out a feel-good song that people can dance to. I hope that everyone will love it just as much as we do!
You worked as a team with Johnny Garcia and Jimmy Mattingly on the single – a co-write between the three of you, while Johnny and Jimmy produced and appeared on the track. What was the experience of working as such a tight-knit unit?
I still cannot believe I get to work with Jimmy and Johnny, I still pinch myself haha. They are not just incredible musicians, producers & songwriters; they are also just all around such genuine people and I am so honored that they believe in me enough to work with me. We have a blast whenever the 3 of us get on a skype call to write and or when we get to be in the studio together recording and or writing, we laugh a lot. During covid we had so much time to skype write every-week and I feel like that is why so many amazing songs were written. We had nothing else to do besides be creative and work on my project because we were all stuck at home. I do not know if we would have written all of these amazing songs together if it weren’t for all the time we had.
And give us some info as to how the idea for the song came about. Did you enter the write with a definite idea, or was it a song that just sprung up?
We had been writing a lot of bluesy/ soulful tunes and some midtempo songs and when we went into that write that day, we said hmm what are we missing? A summer smash. Typically, we spend a little over an hour just talking and catching up and tossing ideas around. Then all of a sudden jimmy said “hey the last time I was on tour with garth before the pandemic I remember saying man we cant buy fun like this” and so he wrote “cant buy fun like this” in his concepts and we were like hell yeah that’s what were writing today. We knew we had wrote something special after that skype write that day.
You said you moved to Nashville ‘on a whim’. Can you believe how things have turned out since?
So, I spent several years coming to Nashville to record, network and write with different folks. The first time I came to Nashville was back in 2011. My dream was always to come to Nashville during CMA fest so after I graduated high school my parents surprised me with a trip to Nashville and I knew one day I wanted to live here. When I got on the voice in 2014 I decided that after the show I wanted to move to Nashville. I had a few road bumps that delayed my move. After the show I was playing tons of shows and opening for many different country acts. I felt like Nashville was still calling my name, but I think the thought of moving away from my parents was just so hard for me to think about at the time, so I continued to tour the northeast. It was around 2016 I decided I wanted to make the BIG move. Then the road bump hit. I started losing my voice after shows and I thought at first it had been from allergies because I have always suffered with terrible allergies in the summertime. I took a trip to an Ent doctor, and he sent me to a specialist in Philadelphia. They took a look at my voice and mentioned that I had a large cyst on my vocal cord and that was the reason I was losing my voice. I was not sure what that meant at the time. They told me in order for my voice to come back I would need to get It removed. Immediately I thought oh no when will I be able to sing again. They told me it would take about 9 months to a year to fully recovery with speech and vocal therapy. The was defiantly a hard pill to swallow but I sucked it up and went through with the process. It was extremely hard because I went through a lot of depression during that period of time not being able to sing or play shows. Shortly after my recovery I moved to Nashville the summer of 2017. I was still finishing up my check ups and some vocal therapy at Vanderbilt, but I was so happy to have finally move to the place I had always dreamed to live. I began working with my vocal coach Kati Hendricks that same year and I honestly can’t thank her enough for helping me to not only get my voice back but I feel as though she helped me to get it back even stronger then before.
Can you give us an insight into how you got started as a singer? Was it a case of hairbrush in front of the mirror from a young age?
Ha. So yes, hairbrush in front of the mirror was definitely one of my favorite things to do as a young girl. I began singing when I was around 8 years old. I remember being in daycare programs and the daycare teachers always said to my parents “Man your daughter loves to sing”. I remember when MTV came out and I discovered Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey I remember thinking to myself I want to be just like them when I grow up. Even at family parties I would run around singing and all my aunts and Uncles would say we have to put this girl on a stage ha, she just doesn’t stop singing. A funny story I do remember is I used to take raw hot dogs out of the fridge and pretend they were my microphone, and I would stand up on my little table and sing with any female that was singing on the TV at the time. I always looked up to the power house singers like Christina, Mariah, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Martina McBride, Aretha Franklin, LeAnn Womack , LeAnn Rimes and the list goes on. I also really loved a lot of the rock female singers including Melissa Etheridge, Stevie Nicks, Joan Jett, Alanis Morrissette, and the Cranberries. My parents put me in vocal lessons when I was about 10 years old. My vocal coach at the time put me in lots of spring and fall recitals to get me some early-stage experience. I then entered my first competition at the age of 11 at barnstormers theater. and won first place. I also tried out for star search around the same age but I didn’t make it on the show. I also took some acting classes and played a few parts in some musical theater shows, but I would not credit myself as an actor. Through the years I performed in many local competitions in my hometown. I tried out for tons of auditions including American idol, Americas Got talent, X-Factor and even season 1 of The Voice before I made it on season 6 of The Voice. I also credit my grandfather as a huge influence on me growing up. He played piano by ear and sang, that always amazed me how he could hear a song and be able to play the song. I used to sing at the nursing homes and assistant living homes with him during the holidays to bring cheer to all the folks living there, I think those were some of the best days of my life. I miss him dearly. I joined my first rock band at the age of 14 and began touring a bit through the northeast area (Philly /New jersey) at clubs and different venues, funny story is my agent at the time told the venues I was 18 just so I could play, haha. I also began songwriting when I was in my rock band and I fell in-love with creating my own music. When I decided I wanted to go into a different direction musically, I formed a country band with the help of my producer at the time. We played a few shows and wrote some music but I decided after awhile I wanted to try and go solo. I was still in high school and balancing music at the same time. When I graduated high-school I joined a community college and joined a cover band on the side to make some extra money on the side while I completed my degree. I was never really a school person because I always struggled with a learning disability and had a hard time comprehending because I had terrible ADHD growing up but, I wanted to give college a shot because my parents rule was to have a degree to fall back on incase my career didn’t work out. I was in school for medical assisting at the time because I knew I wanted to something to help people and since I was still focusing on my music career, I thought a 2-year program would work out in my favor to be able to do both. Come 2014 I had the opportunity to try out for the voice and the rest is sorta history as they said, after making it on the show I ended up dropping out of college and focusing strictly on my music career. My parents weren’t too happy at first, but they wanted to support me and they knew music was my dream.
And if you had to pick a particular highlight from your career so far, what would you say?
I would defiantly say being on “The Voice” and all the opportunities that came after. Being able to sing the national anthem at a Philadelphia eagles’ game for the first time was a dream come true. I remember trying out to sing the national anthem at an Eagles game when I was 10 years old, and I did not make the cut. Fast forward years later I have sung at about 7 different Eagles Games and that to this day is still a dream come true. There is so much more but I think those 2 have to be my favorite so far.
If you could pick your dream gig, where would it be, and who would join you on stage for a duet?
Oh man!! That is always such a tough question because there are so many places I would love to play and so many people I would dream to duet with. I would defiantly love to sell out the Lincoln Financial Field since that is my hometown city of Philadelphia. And I would also love to perform at the super-bowl one day. Those would defiantly be 2 dream come true stages. I would say an artist that I would have loved to duet with if he was still alive would have been Elvis, but I think any girl would have dreamed of that as well, am I right haha. I would also say an artist that I absolutely love and is still living is Chris Stapleton, I love soulful voices like his and that would be such a cool honor and dream come true to perform with him. I think performing a medley (like a Lady Marmalade thing) with some of my favorite powerhouse females would be super cool, random I know, but would be so cool.
Tell us something random about yourself!…
I am honestly just a nerd when I am not singing. I love watching history documentaries, random documentaries on aliens and conspiracies and stuff like that. I enjoy learning about how things got on earth and how science work, it’s all so very interesting to me. I am a huge documentary junkie and total dork. I will randomly look up stuff on dinosaurs and how other species lived on the earth before we came along. I love learning about random things and educating myself on anything and everything when time allows it. I also love going to history museums and science museums when I travel different places. It all fascinates me.
To finish, let us know what you have in store for the rest of the year, if you can give any of that info away!
You can find my touring schedule , social media platforms and any other information about future song releases on my website Home – Audra Mclaughlin – “The Queen Of Country Soul!”