Before Olivia Lane accepted and embraced the role of a country singer, she played a lot of other parts. She was Éponine in Les Misérables, Miss Adelaide in Guys & Dolls, Jan in Grease, Hedy in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Princess Winnifred in Once Upon a Mattress.
And all that community theater training paid off. Because now when Lane is onstage, even though she’s a country rookie, she looks like a natural.
That was the impression I got from Lane after watching her perform at the Chicago White Sox’s pregame show recently.
And talking with Lane — over hot dogs and popcorn — during the game made it that much more obvious. She just belongs on the stage.
“Sometimes I wish I’d moved to Nashville right when I got out of high school,” Lane told me. “But I needed to do some soul-searching to figure out what I wanted to do. And what I didn’t want to do.”
Growing up in Houston, the “Make My Own Sunshine” singer says she was a big fish in a small pond, landing all the big parts in all the big musicals. But then in college in California, her flame for musical theater burned out and her passion for songwriting was ignited.
“My world was rocked,” Lane said of her first songwriting class. “I was like, “Oh, my God. I’m so infinitely happier doing this.’ It was just a gut feeling. If not for that class, I would not have had that epiphany. I was just an artistic kid trying to figure it out, but music is what lies in my heart.”
And it’s not like the theater classes didn’t pay off.
“The thing I loved most about theater was the stories,” she said. “And that’s what country music is. It’s a little play that takes you on a journey. That’s what a good country song should do.”