Anna Vaus: Thankful for Miranda Lambert

The $40,000 That Changed Her Life

If Anna Vaus ever has the chance to meet Miranda Lambert, she’s going to have an attitude of gratitude.

“She changed so much for me, and I would just love to genuinely thank her,” Vaus told me about how grateful she is to Lambert. “The scholarship changed my life, for sure.”

It was Lambert’s Women Creators’ scholarship that paid for Vaus’ entire junior year at Nashville’s Belmont University with $40,000 in funds. And now that she is about to head into her last year at Belmont and will be graduating with a job as a Black River Publishing songwriter, she knows that it’s women like Lambert who helped her get started in her dream job.

When Vaus was applying for the scholarship, she had two essays to write. The first one was about the three women she looks up to in the music industry.

“I had Taylor Swift, because she supports so many different women in the industry. And Kacey Musgraves, because she sticks to her guns. And Beth Brinker, my rep at ASCAP, because I really look up to her,” she said, adding that she thought long and hard about whether or not she should include Lambert on her list.

“I analyze and overthink things, almost to a fault. I thought that I shouldn’t put Miranda in my essay because a lot of people are gonna put Miranda in their essay. So it wouldn’t separate me. I stressed out about it, then I figured she’d want to hear about the other women I look up to.”

Vaus also wrote an essay about how she thought women could change the industry for the better.

“I said we have to support each other while we are working every day to writing the best songs and release the best songs,” she said. “And not look at it like it’s a competition.”

Her application also included two original songs she’d written by herself and a home video she made to introduce herself to Lambert. And once it was all submitted, she got a call from her dean at Belmont.

“He said, ’Usually when the dean calls you, it’s not good news. But today, it’s good news,'” she recalled. “I tried to play it cool, but I just cried and cried.”

It was during Vaus’ scholarship year that she landed an internship with Black River for the second semester of her junior year.

“I would go in on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and sit in on songwriting sessions and write with their writers. So I got a taste of what being signed to a publishing deal would be like — without any strings attached. We built the internship around my hopes and dreams,” she said.

If she’d had to tackle the duties of a lesser internship — the ones her friends were doing — Vaus doesn’t think that would worked out well for her.

“I don’t even know how to make coffee, so that would not have been pretty,” she laughed.

The ink has barely dried on the new publishing deal Vaus signed, but she is eager to start what sounds like her dream job even though she is still in college.

“For me, the song absolutely comes first. I’ve fallen in love with artists who are true songwriters. My goal was to sign a publishing deal when I graduated. That plan was rewritten,” Vaus said of being about a year ahead of her plan, “and I feel like I got so lucky. I get to write songs and leave college with a job.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.