Signing Stories: Lauren Watkins

Date Signed: April 2023

Label: Big Loud Records / Songs & Daughters

Type of Music: Country

Management: Big Loud Management (Seth England), Songs & Daughters (Nicolle Galyon, Melanie Mulrain)

Booking: The Neal Agency (Austin Neal, Haley Teske)

Legal: Milom Horsnell Crow Rose Kelley PLC (Page Kelley)

Publicity: Big Loud Records (Jess Anderson)

Web: laurenwatkinsmusic.com

A&R: Seth England, Nicolle Galyon, Camille Kenny

As a talented young musician growing up in Nashville, Lauren Watkins was in the right place to launch a music career. But, as the younger sister to Caroline Watkins, another musician who was taking it far more seriously, the country-music musician simply didn’t see herself performing professionally. “For me, it was fun. For her, it was a career,” Watkins says of playing with her sister when she was 12 or 13 years old.

Thus, Watkins left Nashville to attend college and never turned her back. Well, almost. “About halfway through school, I realized that music was in my life since I was born,” she says. “So I moved back to Nashville to become a full-time artist.”

Around the same time, Watkins was developing a strong online presence by posting seemingly throwaway Instagram videos of her performing new material. Some of them caught the attention of married Nashville songwriters Rodney Clawson and Nicolle Galyon. Oh, and Galyon, by the way, also heads up the female-centric Songs and Daughters label in tandem with Big Loud Records. Talk about kismet.

“They were apparently like, ‘Who is this girl?’” Watkins recalls. “Nicolle reached out to me while I was still in school to see what I was doing. It was perfect timing, because I had just decided what I wanted to do.”

Galyon and Watkins met for lunch, after which the former started setting up meetings between the latter and A&R reps at Big Loud. They struck a publishing deal in September 2021. “It was pretty quick. I had written my ass off that summer, trying to prove myself—and learn that I knew how to write, because I had always written alone.”

I had written my ass off that summer, trying to prove myself.

Around the same time as the publishing deal, Watkins was simultaneously building up her career as a performer. There too she found encouragement to pursue her talents. “That’s how the record deal came to be, the next summer,” she says.

Maintaining humility as both a songwriter and a musician could be the key to Watkins’ success: She never demands that luck go her way—instead, she puts herself in the best places for it to happen.

“I didn’t expect any of this,” she says. – Kurt Orzeck