- Savannah Sparks, Savannah From Austin Blog
Born and raised in the now ultra-hip district of East Nashville, Charley Woods truly was "Nashville before Nashville was cool". This badge of honor helps her stand out among a wave of new talent that rushes into the city on a daily basis. But with a voice like hers, reputation isn't something you need in order to stand out among the rest. Tennessee born & bred, she prides herself on her passion for individuality. She brings an all-Americana sound to the heavily saturated pop/country
music scene that dwells in Nashville today. With her authentic, tell-it-like-it is personality & a relentless work ethic, Charley has opened doors for herself from an early age. She's sung alongside Brad Paisley during the 2011 CMA awards, she's appeared on Good Morning America and world renown stages such as The Grand Ole Opry and The Ryman Auditorium - all before the tender age of 18. As you can imagine, Charley Woods has learned to perform under pressure, but her greatest honor is creating a deep connection with her audience - And her ability to do so, is inspiring to say the least.
"It was like there was never any question. Music was just what I was gonna do.."
Born to a riverboat captain & theatrical entertainer; both her father & mother noticed a unique potential in their eldest daughter when she showed the ability to harmonize with songs on the radio at four years old. “My earliest memories of finding an identity in music began with 90’s country radio. Going to school, coming home from school - I'd be strapped in the backseat and mom controlled the radio dial. The songs at that time are truly what make up my melodic backbone.” Borrowing from Patty Griffin’s compelling vocal arrangements, to John Mayer’s honest songwriting, Woods began penning her own original songs while simultaneously teaching herself guitar at the young age of eleven. "I was very blessed" says Woods. "To say I had opportunities to succeed
is an understatement. From summer music programs, garage bands and talent agencies, to district showcases and graduating from a performing arts high school - my parents have supported me from the very beginning. It was like there was never any question. Music was just what I was gonna do, and they knew they couldn't really change it. Thankfully, they embraced it."
Woods would soon establish a Nashville-name for herself, thanks to her scrappy DIY approach to the music industry and of course.. her poignant songwriting. Mature lyrics contrasted by her delicate, yet powerful voice have given a breath of fresh air to an otherwise cookie cutter industry. During her early years, she garnered the attention of publishers and music managers alike. “I was fifteen, I remember because my dad had to drive me to my meetings... It was the first time I actually felt like people were taking me seriously.” At eighteen, Charley accepted her first publishing/artist development deal from a small yet reputable publishing house on music row. "It was an interesting situation, to say the least. I literally found myself with a performing arts college acceptance letter at one side, and my publishing contract at the other. There at a table with my future managers and my parents - I chose the contract, and never looked back."
. I literally found myself with a performing arts college acceptance letter at one side, and my publishing contract at the other.
Under the mentor-ship of country music magnate John Dorris, she would fine-tune her skills alongside other talent -
ed & like-minded writers. Charley felt she was paying her dues, but this time would serve as a linchpin in her teens - She was nurturing her craft & building a catalog; One that would soon take her beyond her humble start on music row. “I really found a home in songwriting. Getting to connect with words and melody a feeling that is otherwise indescribable, felt like my purpose.” Charley would feel that sense of purpose during the journey of her first single release, "Half the Girl". She remembers, “My first independently released single was technically not a release— I'd written it years prior but decided to record it as a surprise to my boyfriend. It was when I posted it to Soundcloud for him to have a place to stream it that I started receiving messages from people all across the world asking where they could find the song for purchase. That's when I decided to release it.”
Woods had released music before but had yet to experience such a grassroots demand for her songs. This was truly special. The heartfelt gift for future husband was no longer a mere romantic gesture: "Half the Girl" has now claimed the attention of leading music editorials & radio stations around the world, not to mention it's proudly accumulated more than 5,000 streams on Spotify - 100% organically. Combine
"It's the connection that I'm after. I want to have the opportunity to share that with as many people as I can."
& hard-copy albums that the single has helped sell - which is in the thousands, to date - has made for a proud husband & muse of the song. "Yeah, I'm proud of her beyond words" states her boyfriend turned husband & accompanist, Justin. "She's a flawless vocalist. I may sound bias... just come to a show. You'll know I'm not bragging. She's the real deal."
Her breakthrough EP Starting Gate is a well-polished, dynamic display of country music girl-power at its absolute finest. Down-home, southern grooves such as "I Wanna Know You" & "Last To Know" both showcase Charley's classic-country roots; while the raw & boisterous arena-friendly "Player" is both convicting & commanding enough to bring even the most heartless playboy to his knees. The album is perfectly off-set by the extremely heartfelt ballad "Starting Gate": An autobiography of a young girl who would answer the beckoning call to leave her comfortable surroundings in order to follow her dreams: a truly inspiring & authentic song as it is a nod to her personal music career as well as her lifelong connection to the equine industry.
Charley Woods' true passion is creating, who she calls “fan-friends”, with her message. "It's the connection that I'm after. Nashville is great, and it's cool when people tell you how wonderful they think you are - but when a connection is made with someone I would've never met had it not been for a song I wrote.. yeah - that's the good stuff. And I want to have the opportunity to share that with as many people as I can." Her love of music & traveling has taken her thousands of miles across the country. She deems each journey worthwhile, if not but to touch one person with her vivid songwriting & storytelling. The journey is indeed worthwhile as she finds dedicated fans at every venue she plays. "It's really incredible." says Justin. "I've played with a lot of talented artists. But she's different. We've played to more people that I can count, and I've never left a show without overhearing a fan talk to Charley about how one of her songs spoke to them. It's really crazy. I've seen people in tears. I'm grateful to be a part of that.” Charley brings the
same passion to every show because that's what she feels called to do. For her, it's not just a means to an end. It's not just a gig. It's her calling. She's bound to connect: Her voice, her songwriting, & her raw gift will allow no less. Just like a jockey racing to the finish line, Charley is in this for the long haul. Her passionate lyrics proclaim ‘Let the race begin, and I came to win’ –
But she proves that ambition each time she steps onstage.
"This is the music we've missed from female artists. Its strong, sweet, intricate, and intoxicating."
that with digital downloads
Charley, left, with Mignion Grabois and Brad Paisley at the 2011 CMA Awards
Woods, age 2
Age 17, recording some of her first studio sessions
Charley singing alongside Chris Young at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, TN
Charley Woods - 2016