Rising country artist Madison Kozak is on the road this week with Tanya Tucker and the CMT Next Women of Country Tour, opening her first of four shows. Born and raised in Canada and now living in Nashville, Kozak chatted with Hot 20 Countdown about the shows, as well as the new music she’s releasing through the new, female-focused label, Songs of Daughters.
“Growing up, I listened to very classic country music,” she said. “‘Delta Dawn’ was a song I sang over and over again at fairs and festivals back home in Ontario. So getting to open for an artist like Tanya is such a dream, something I never thought would be possible. I’m also heading out on the road with Willie Nelson this spring. I'm so pumped to be carrying the torch of traditional country that needs to be heard and represented in 2020.”
CMT: First off, let’s talk about your record deal with Songs and Daughters, which is a female-driven and female-focused label. Tell me why you felt it was the right move for you as an artist.
Kozak: I'm very proud to be a woman in country music. When I think about all my biggest heroes in country music who've influenced me, it's people like Tanya Tucker, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Shania Twain and I'm like, “Oh, wait, yeah, they're all females.”
It never really occurred to me that that was the streamline that kept them all together in my brain. But yeah, I'm proud to be a part of this force of a female-led label, a female-artist focused label as well. It feels like a movement. I'm proud to be part of it.
Last year was a big year for you. If you had to think about a favorite moment, what would it be?
Oh, it's hard to pick one because they all kind of fell into each other. But I would say from graduating college at Belmont University [in Nashville] last May to playing the Grand Ole Opry last October, that was the biggest full circle of like ending school, but also like having this education of country music and knowing that the Grand Ole Opry is where that stems from. Those two were monumental for me.
Let’s talk about the Next Women of Country Tour. Take us back to finding out that you were going to be part of this.
OK. I have to think back to the fall then. When I got the invite to be a part of the Next Women 2020 class, I was so excited because I've watched these classes come up over the years and seen a lot of really awesome powerhouse female artists come out who I just loved their music out of this class. It was like, “Oh, something's turning here in my career.”
To be a part of this class was a huge honor and to be heading out on this tour, it is so exciting to me to get to tell my stories in cities I've never been to. Or in my case, heading back to Canada with Tanya where I come from is really special to me. It's a huge honor.
Speaking of Tanya, will this be the first time that you’re spending a lot of time with her?
It's funny because I feel like I've spent so much time with her just from listening to her music. I feel like I know her. She's got this sass about her, this grit about her, that I admire so much and try to carry out as well in myself and my own artistry.
But this will be the first time I'll get to really spend time with her, aside from the Next Women of Country event where I got to meet her for the first time. I just can't wait to learn everything there is to know about being out there, being on the road, about being a woman in country. I want to hear it from her perspective.
I want to touch on your latest video for “OMG ILY” which is all iPhone footage, right? Tell us about why you chose to do that for the video?
Yeah. Well, I'm like any other millennial, I seem to be glued to my phone these days. And I love the way that your iPhone, or whatever smartphone, can capture the way you live your life. And I felt like “OMG ILY” is really fun. It felt like the right time to bring out the phone and just say, “Hey, this is the way I see life.”
So I shot all of the video on that on my phone, vlog style, at the Next Women of Country event that day. I was peeking behind the scenes as well as the BMI awards that night and just danced the night away. I was having so much fun and it captures the song perfectly, I think.
Thinking back to growing up, who were you listening to? And how did that impact you?
Well, I grew up a ‘90s baby but a child of 2000s country on the radio, so I listened to a lot of Lonestar, Rascal Flatts, Miranda Lambert, Dixie Chicks, Shania Twain. All of these artists who were sharing their life, sharing their stories -- and drawing back to the artists that I listened to from beginning, which were the classic country artists. Loretta Lynn was my first concert. I think the common thread there is just I love artists who speak their truth and that's what I carry today and what I try to bring to the table.