Prepare to fall in love with country music’s newest leading lady, Bailey Bryan.
In an exclusive look at her debut music video “Own It,” Bryan, 18, shows wisdom beyond her years. Her first single, with deeply personal lyrics, encourages fans to embrace their flaws and acknowledge the things that make them who they are at the core.
“I wrote ‘Own It’ when I was just 16 and at the time I’d just recovered from spinal fusion surgery,” Bryan explained. “I have scoliosis and that was a really big transition phase in my life. At 16, you’re already trying to become more comfortable with yourself, and on top of that, I had a major surgery and a really long recovery.
“I was just trying to figure out how to own the experience I’d just gone through and the things who make me who I am,” she continued. “‘Own It’ was what I needed to hear. I walked into this cowrite with a list of things about myself — funny things, things I like about myself, things that are awkward — and the things I list in the verses were the ones on my list. No matter what it means, if at the end of the day you can look in the mirror and acknowledge all the things who make you who you are, that’s the way I want to live.”
The video, which is one of the first in the industry to be shot vertically, premiered on PEOPLE’s Snapchat Discover channel Thursday morning and takes the format of a series of social media posts. The production, much like the experience of writing the song itself, was intentional and served a greater purpose for Bryan as an artist.
“That was the most surreal day,” Bryan recalls. “We filmed the video in one day. My manager and I flew up to Peoria, Illinois. The company who [produced the video] is in a tiny town and they sent us the [social media] treatment beforehand.
“I knew I wanted to incorporate social media and capture the fun feeling of the song in a way that my generation would understand,” Bryan said. “We’re all on our phones constantly, and social media is the way my friends and peers express themselves.”
Hailing from a small town in Washington, Bryan began writing music at just 12 years old and signed her first publishing deal three years later. The blossoming artist credits her unique sound to her upbringing and recent transition down to Music City.
“I give credit to the place I grew up for the way I write music and the way I enjoy music,” Bryan revealed. “I was in a very rural area, getting stuck behind tractors on the way to school and country music was our way of life. Seattle was close, though, and has a great hip hop scene that shaped the way I do music and made me passionate about all sorts of music.”
When asked how she feels about being called the next big thing and being nominated by Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott for the Grammy’s “Artists of Tomorrow” award, Bryan’s excitement hit a peak.
“I’ve had the chance to meet and work with Hillary Scott since I moved to Nashville, and when she caught wind of the Grammy category, she nominated me; talk about a surreal moment,” Bryan gushed. “This is another thing that I don’t know if it will ever feel real to me. I just think it’s so incredible that the Grammys are giving new artists such an amazing platform to get our personalities across. The other two artists doing this are crazy talented and every time I go on the website to watch the videos (and vote for myself!) I’m baffled by the talent on there.
“Just this last year of my life, especially living in Nashville full time, I’ve grown as an artist so much more than I thought I could,” Bryan continued. “I hope to keep progressing and doing amazing things and I want to inspire as many people as I possibly can. It’s easy to get caught up, especially for someone my age in this industry. When I hear people say I could be the next ‘big thing,’ I’m just humbled. None of this is promised.”
To vote from Bryan in the Artists of Tomorrow competition, click here. Be sure to tune in on Feb. 12, at 8/7c, to watch the 59th annual Grammy Awards and see if Bryan snags the award.