Rising country music singer-songwriter Brittney Spencer celebrates a big week of getting noticed. The buoyant artist from Baltimore made a trek to the Big Apple a few days ago. She marvels to see herself and her new song “Sober & Skinny” scrolling across a giant screen in Times Square. The starkly honest, but hopeful ballad released last week, and Brittney Spencer is the “Artist to Watch” on both Spotify and Pandora.
When it comes to time, Brittney Spencer is well aware that success takes time, but she’s never willing to surrender her sense of self in seeking recognition, as she explains in this morning’s June 24th chat with Anthony Mason on CBS This Morning, as the CBS local affiliate in her hometown also confirms. While she welcomes her newfound spotlight and attention, Brittney Spencer is by no means an overnight sensation. Seven years of struggle, singing and crafting songs pour into her moment, and she savors every nanosecond of her welcome into the expanding country music family.
Covers lead to good company for Brittney Spencer
Emulators of creative artists and cover songs of ageless classics fill endless listings on YouTube. Essentially, it’s impossible for most to stand out. In the case of Brittney Spencer, however, her cover songs draw big names to her artistic table. Her spirit seems make the most infectious seasoning.
Only last October, Brittney Spencer put up her rendition of “Crowded Table” by The Highwomen on Twitter. Bold and beautiful in her glasses and soaring with the high notes, Spencer held nothing back. It so happens that two members of the country music supergroup catch the performance and they do more than give Brittney Spencer a pat on the back. Maren Morris and Amanda Shires invite the singer-songwriter to join them on the road and for writing sessions. The love of storytelling and harmony that hooked her as a high school girl wrote its own fairytale for Brittney Spencer.
The time is finally right
Mickey Guyton makes a perfect mentor for Brittney Spencer. The “Black Like Me” singer-songwriter created her piercing cry for equality and justice with her collaborators after making a personal pledge to abandon the “Nashville system” of singing someone else’s “right” song and making it sound “Country enough.” More and more premiere stages call to the artist as she champions everything from motherhood to more radio airplay for female artists, and, of course, making country music more colorful through its acceptance and inclusion of many artists not yet telling their own story.
Clearly, in one way or another, Brittney Spencer determined to be heard and share her own story. She sang in church with her younger sisters, commanding the microphone. In talent shows, “we were Destiny’s Child,” declares Spencer. “I was Beyonce,” she openly admits, sitting beside her dad, “because I wanted the most solos on ‘Bootylicious’”
After studying at the George Washington Carver Center for the Arts and Technology, Brittney makes her move to Nashville in 2013. She commits herself to her songwriting craft while busking on Broadway at night. All the while, the aspiring artist holds down a full-time job. “I had so many jobs,” Brittney Spencer details, recounting employment at an airport, a coffee shop, a few juice shops, along with her current position as a customer service representative with Warby Parker eyewear. No one doubts Brittney Spencer’s sacrifice for her life calling.
Songs can save
Nonetheless, in 2016, the buoyant Brittney confesses that she had a low point that nearly caused her to leave country music. Maren Morris became her muse. She listened to the album, Hero, incessantly, clinging to the verses of “My Church” and every other song. Slowly, Brittney Spencer hears “some genre-bending sounds” in Morris’ passionate delivery.
The difference gave Spencer the strength to hold on. Maren does Brittney an even bigger favor when she includes the “Sorrys Don’t Work Anymore” singer among her list of gifted female artists of color named in her CMA Female Vocalist of the Year acceptance. Spencer still gushes with gratitude to think how her life changed while “sittin’ on the couch” like any other viewer.
“She talked me off a ledge.” Brittney Spencer confirms of Morris. The soulful tones and unity in the songs assure Spencer that “There is a place for me.” As if by fate, the most special place in country music just gave a place to Brittney inside a sacred circle.
Brittney gets the ultimate invitation
“In the seven years that I’ve been here, I don’t think I’ve ever seen people be this eager” [to collaborate with diverse artists] Brittney Spencer insists. She senses the mood that “this thing won’t survive if we don’t shift,” referring to her industry. Acceptance, for some, is a painful process. Meanwhile, Spencer graciously accepts the praise that she “shines” as a songwriter from American Songwriter. The magazine hails “Sober & Skinny” for its frank take on the frailty of the human condition, and yet the faith to believe tomorrow brings the possibility to be better.
Things don’t get much better than being invited to the Grand Ole Opry, at least not for Brittney Spencer. Last month, she sang “Sober and Skinny” standing on the famous circle that is so sacred that she didn’t want to step on one grain of wood until her time to perform. At first, Brittney was too awestruck to even enter the doors. She deserves to get used to the country music star treatment now. Brittney Spencer has reserved parking privileges at the Opry. Somewhere, there’s someone waiting with a pen to sign her to a recording contract. For now, Spencer keeps her focus on touring dates with Jason Isbell, the husband, by the way, of her good friend Amanda Shires.
“I’m not a size 2. I’ll never be a size 2. If I tried all my life, I don’t think I’d ever be a size 2,” Brittney Spencer playfully reflects. There’s more to a woman’s heart than any number on a scale. This woman’s heart holds stories to tell for decades in country music and the only direction is up.