Tanner Adell, Singer Who Got a Big Cosign From Beyoncé, Signs With LVRN Records: ‘Country Is My Foundation, but I Want It to Reach Outside the Walls of Nashville’

Tanner Adell, one of the artists at the forefront of the new wave of Black country music, has inked a new recording contract with Love Renaissance, aka LVRN Records. Adell had been independent since splitting with Columbia Records last year, and her profile increased exponentially when she was one of the artists featured on Beyoncé’s blockbuster “Cowboy Carter” album this spring, leading to an influx of interest in Adell’s recent catalog, like the signature song “Buckle Bunny.”

LVRN is an Atlanta-based label and management company whose roster includes such artists as Summer Walker, 6LACK, DVSN, Spinall and TxC. As impressive as the company’s lineup is, one thing it didn’t have a lot of is… country. But that’s fine by Adell.

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“I bring the country,” Adell tells Variety. “And I need a partner that can bring the other side for me, to be honest.”

Adell is highly self-conscious of, and proud about, the bridge she offers between different worlds, which she thinks can be heightened with this new deal. “I think there’s not so much competition for me,” she says, “in the sense that there’s anybody else out there doing what I’m doing. You know, I was genuinely raised between Los Angeles, the big city, where I grew up modeling and acting, and Star Valley, Wyoming, where I was literally a cowgirl during the summers. I grew up with this half-and-half, you know?”

Her music adds to the stockpile of evidence that contemporary country music is defined more by the ethos of the lyrics than by any particular sound, with a style steeped in pop, R&B and trap sounds, but with Western lifestyle references infused throughout the lyrics that peg it as country, along with her look, of course. The term “pop country” can still be controversial in some quarters — less so with the churn of happy crossover happening today — but it sits well with Adell. “Some people have a hard time agreeing that pop should even be included in the country conversation when it comes to blending genres,” she notes. “But I mean, that’s what it is. I’ve got a country heart, a country soul. I write lyrically very country. And it just happens to be my foundation. But I want it to be able to reach outside of the walls of Nashville.”

LVRN’s head of A&R, Justice Baiden, said in a statement, “It’s rare these days to be wowed and instantly connect to an artist. Tanner is a generational talent who will change how people feel, perceive and digest country music. We believe in the stories she tells and her ability to relate to the everyday person; she will touch a global audience.”

tanner adell lvrn love renaissance label signing records beyonce
Pictured (sofa – first row): Amber Grimes (Executive Vice President/General Manager at LVRN), Tanner Adell, Justice Baiden (Head of A&R at LVRN), Carlon Ramong (Creative Director at LVRN), Pictured (standing – second row): Junia Abaidoo (Head of Touring & Operations at LVRN), Tunde Balogun (CEO of LVRN)

Variety spoke with Adell on the eve of the signing announcement about why she went with Love Renaissance, what she felt was missing with her previous short-lived affiliation with a high-profile label, and her hopes for a not entirely genre-specific global reach.

How did you come to settle in with LVRN for this deal? 

Just a little bit of my history: I moved to Nashville in 2021 and was fully independent. And then, at the beginning of last year, signed with a major label that just didn’t go as well as I had hoped. We went our separate ways at the end of last summer, and I was an independent until now. So it’s been a little bit of a learning curve. And yeah, I have a lot of great accomplishments this year that I think caught the eyes of a lot of people. And then on top of that, I was independent again. So people were really looking forward to being able to kind of give me their two cents. Meeting with LVRN was one of my favorite meetings. It was just very apparent to me that I cared more about the people that I was going to put my trust in than about anything else, to be honest. For me, it came down to just choosing the people that I thought I could trust my career with.

There was a Black Music Action Coalition presentation in L.A. in April where it was noted that several of the Black artists who got a high-profile featured appearance on the Beyoncé album had signed with major labels at some earlier point but were now independent. You were one of them, and so people have been curious about whether you would stay independent, since you’ve certainly proven capable of putting out music on your own, or look for another deal.

I think for me the next partner needed to be somewhere I felt 100% safe, to be honest. I think Sony Columbia gave me a little bit of PTSD. And so, coming out of being independent, I still want to have the control. I want to feel like I can do things my own way and that I don’t have to conform to certain industry standards that can slow things down. And LVRN is so ready to just — excuse my French — put balls to the wall with me, and I’m not slowing down anytime soon. A big part of where my mindset was in choosing a partner was, who wants to ramp this up with me? I don’t have time to sit around and wait a little while. We wanted to jump in immediately, and we just clicked. Even before the conversations of really signing a deal, we were already texting and having calls and talking about different ideas that we had because the trust was just there. I’ve been working my butt off, and even during Columbia, when I felt like I didn’t have a whole lot of support on the label side, I was doing all that myself, spending last year trying to grind through the walls that were being put up. And obviously I’ve had a few songs that have done really, really well. So I already had momentum, and we had people making offers even before anyone even knew that I was on the Beyoncé album. Because of the momentum I had, I’ve been able to sustain engagement and a fan base, and I’m growing and really excited for some things that I have planned in the next couple weeks.

Were the problems you had before more to do with positioning and image or with the timeliness of what you wanted to see happen? 

I think really what it boiled down to was the level of respect that I got. After a couple months in with Columbia, I had put on social media, “Hey, y’all are gonna have to blow up ‘Buckle Bunny,’ because my label’s not letting me release it.” That wasn’t an artist trying to get clickbait and trying to get people to feel sorry for me; that was real. … This song that I posted that got four and a half million views on the first day, now it’s not being released until nine months later, and I lost all my momentum and a huge moment that should have been capitalized on just wasn’t. I can’t even assume what was going on behind the scenes or why I got treated the way that I did. But I think that mutual trust was gone from the start for me. And so it just kind of became, okay, I’m gonna do my own thing, because I know I’m not going to get the support that I need. Which definitely jaded me a little bit when it came to choosing a partner.

But when I walked into LVRN, it was like I already felt surrounded by people who were on my side, by people who want to see me succeed. No matter what, they want me to get my dream. I believe in myself very much, but they almost believe in me more than I believe in myself, and that’s saying something. It feels like a team. And I’m very close with my team. I don’t like flip flopping. I’m not like, “Oh, I have this manager, well, now I’m gonna move on to this manager.” I like to find the people that I truly connect with, and those are the people that I want supporting me, but also me supporting them. Those are the people I want for the rest of my life, you know? With a partner this year, I really wanted to make sure that I knew each individual person. And Amber Grimes is my product manager; I could pick up the phone right now and call her and she’ll answer. What’s most important to me is the people that I know over there. I could pick up the phone and call any one of them and have a conversatioIn. It’s such a simple thing, but when you’ve been through an experience where that was not the case, someone being there for me as a partner is more than I could ask for.

In going with a non-country-specific label, what was your thinking about pros or cons of that? People may wonder how it will work with radio promotion. But there are an increasing number of country stars who are doing it without radio.

I bring the country, and I need a partner that can bring the other side for me, to be honest. I am trying to not let Nashville put me in a box, because there’s a ceiling there. I want to be absolutely global, and I think my music spans far past country music. You know, I’m never trying to get anyone to believe that I’m a traditional country artist in any way, shape or form. And I’ve never done anything by the rules. I’ve never really boxed myself in. So why start now? I think it’s real important to have a team that understands that. And for me, radio is a victory lap. You know, in country music they take radio… not too seriously, but radio is a really big part of what makes you important In country music. But we live in a world where  I could post a video and get 100,000 views in 10 minutes for free. I don’t need radio; radio needs me. Radio needs artists that are putting out songs that connect with fans all over the nation that can go international and connect with fans in other countries. And I don’t know if I see a lot of that coming out of country music right now. You know, we’ve got Luke Combs, and what he’s doing globally is amazing. But a lot of artists that have a span that reaches outside of the nation are artists that combine unique hip-hop or pop sounds (with country) — even Kelsea Ballerini, great pop-country. That reaches outside of radio. You’ve got to build those fans somewhere, and right now it’s through social media.

You incorporate some very different sounds but also this very strong lyrical focus. Do you feel like you’ll be bringing any shifts, genre-wise?

I truly believe that, compared to the rest of the world, there’s a very, very small group of people who care whether it’s country enough or not. My demographic, my fans, I feel like their motto is, “I hate country music, but I listen to Tanner Adell.” That’s an average Tanner Adell fan: someone who never listened to country music before but loves the way that I’ve been doing it. So I honestly just don’t think it matters. I think my mind is onto much bigger things, and a much more expansive idea of what country music means to me, and it just so happens that people really, really connect with it. The next couple things I’ve got planned span the spectrum of what I would call country music. I’ve been writing my album for almost a year now. There are some songs that I wrote just by myself a couple years ago that I just have felt like I wanted to hold onto that will be on this album. And it’s a very personal album. People are gonna learn a lot about me. But the other side of me is bangers. You know, I love putting out fun music that people can dance to or scream along to.

And at the end of the day, I’m genre-less. Will it be a little bit country-leaning? Yeah, just because that’s who I am. I love being able to tell a story, and that’s what country music is. But at the end of the day, my end goal is not to worry about being considered country. That’s just who I am. It doesn’t matter if anyone else thinks that or not. I just want to impact as many people as I possibly can, and inspire people.

Where are you at as far as releasing something new? 

I don’t know how much to say about this, because I am planning a surprise that is going to be coming sooner than you’re even probably thinking. But we’ve got a few things up our sleeve. You can look forward to an album this year, though.

You already just put something out for the “Twisters” soundtrack, the song “Too Easy.”

I am so pumped to be a part of it. They came to us and said, “We need an upbeat song.” I’m like, you came to the right person. I feel like I’m the go-to when people think of fun energy and hype songs. It’s been great working with them, and I get to go out for the whole premiere. And I mean, come on, Glen Powell. Does it get better than Glen Powell? … There’s a bunch of videos with line dances already being made. So I think it’s gonna be a staple for sure in my upcoming shows.

Your persona, which people enjoy so much, might be considered pushing the sexy end of the envelope a little bit, for country — or for women in country, who are much more under the microscope when it comes to that. It sounds like you also have some especially introspective material on your next album. But with the kind of sensual bangers, do you feel like you’ll be able to be really unabashed in that now and just celebrate that?

It’s so funny because to me, I feel like I’m like so modest comparatively. I think it’s so funny that anyone even cares about what a woman wears or how they present themselves, because they’re out there listening to (male country hits like) “That’s My Kind of Night” and “Country Girl, Shake It for Me.” And the men can sing about the long legs and the short Daisy Dukes all they want. But then when they actually see it, they get all their panties in a twist! I’m like, “Sweetie, this is what you’ve been listening to the men sing about.” So, you know, it definitely is an interesting (dichotomy).

You know, I was raised in an extremely strict religious household (as a member of the LDS church), and what I wore was monitored and I had to wear certain clothing. As an adult woman, I’ve been able to leave that and really be out on my own. And  there’s one thing that I will not let anyone ever tell me, and that’s what I can and cannot wear. Because I was stuck in a place where I had to wear certain items of clothing. So some people might think it’s sexy — sure. For me, it’s a little bit of religious liberation. And that’s not something that I’m shy of. I think I’ve worked very hard to have this beautiful body, and this gorgeous face. I mean, come on. Like, can we get a little bit of an applause for that face card? It never declines. And that’s what I write about.

You know, I want to exude confidence, because that’s what I put in my music and that’s what I want. Whoever you are — young man, young women, whatever your sexual orientation is, shape, size, color — does not matter. I want people to feel that they are that girl and they can go out and do the damn thing. And if I’m not that way, how can I expect other people who listen to my music to feel that way? I want everyone to feel as confident as I do.

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