Tenille Townes Enters a New Season of Healing After Pandemic Pain: 'I Felt Like I Was Going Insane'

"It is still just as terrifying to me to be this vulnerable in the songs that I'm sharing," Townes says of her new single "When's It Gonna Happen"

Tenille Townes
Tenille Townes. Photo: Laura Dunn

Tenille Townes looks like she has it all. She's gorgeous and she's talented and she's one of country music's most intriguing female artists at the moment. But underneath it all, she's a lot like the rest of us.

She's real.

"There's so much going on below the surface that nobody knows about," Townes, 28, tells PEOPLE in a recent interview. "My natural state and posture is that everything is always bright and shiny and that's my favorite way to be, but I'm learning that's not the only way to be. It's OK to not be OK sometimes."

In fact, Townes is the first to admit that the pandemic did a number on her from a mental health standpoint.

Tenille Townes
Tenille Townes.

"There was nowhere to run from the feelings of being anxious about the state of the world," says Townes, who recently snagged two CCMA Awards for female artist of the year and album of the year. "I felt like I was going insane in my house, feeling completely worried and anxious and scared. But I was constantly asking myself, what do I do with this? I'm so glad that music was a place where I could put it all. It always gives me a way to take a hot air balloon ride of sorts, where I can just float above the situation and see it from a higher vantage point."

And in doing so, music became healing.

"Writing over the past year, I have felt that firsthand for myself in a way that I've really never felt before," she says. "That's what I love the most about songwriting is it can kind of just pull me out of something to look at it differently."

In fact, Townes now says she has found it increasingly easier to lead with her absolute and honest truth. And the truth is that if she receives one more wedding invite in the mail, she just might scream.

"I know that if it's something I'm feeling, there must be others who are feeling the same way with me," she says with a slight chuckle, careful to point out that she is certainly happy for the good fortune surrounding her friends when it comes to love.

But yes, she decided to write a song about it.

"Most of my friends are getting married and I wanted to write a song about how I feel being single sometimes," she says about her current single "When's It Gonna Happen." "It's about the wondering and the questioning and the fear in all of that, but I also wanted it to have an uplifting spirit that brings us together in terms of something we all go through in our lives."

Unleashing her personal narrative into her already powerful songs is something that Townes says she is becoming increasingly comfortable with doing at this point in her career.

"It is still just as terrifying to me to be this vulnerable in the songs that I'm sharing," says Townes, a Canadian songstress who hit it big in the states courtesy of her 2018 hit "Somebody's Daughter." "It is my hope that by sharing these honest and personal songs, it could give a little comfort to somebody listening that we're in it together. That far outweighs the harder parts about being vulnerable."

Of course, being this honest was never the plan.

"I didn't necessarily intend for the music that I've been working on lately to be coming out so much more personal, but it definitely just is," says Townes, who is currently out on her headlining Girl Who Didn't Care tour, which will run in the states through the end of February before heading overseas in March. "When I really think about the heart of what I want my music to do, it's really about giving people permission to just completely show up and be all the sides of who they are."

And someday, she believes that fate will allow love to walk through her door.

"I believe in things happening for a reason bigger than all of us," she says. "I also believe we can create our own fate."

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