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In the music business, the term “overnight success” is a misnomer that is almost ironic. Quite often musicians have toiled on their craft for years before their first taste of the stardom they seek. For some musicians, appearing on NBC’s “The Voice” would be the pinnacle of that path of their entertainment careers. But for Holly Tucker the show was just a stepping stone along a winding path that began nearly 20 years ago.
I recently had the pleasure of seeing Holly perform for a room full of fans at Schoepf’s BBQ in Belton and she was gracious enough to take time out of her busy schedule between preparing for shows, including her performance with country music icon Tracy Byrd at the Heart of Texas Fair, to meet with me. We sat down at a coffeehouse in Waco and talked about her life’s journey so far.
Hailing from a musical family, she’s embraces her musical roots. When asked about that musical pedigree, she smiled and laughed “It goes back generations. My great or great-great grandfather, can’t remember which, was a left handed fiddle player.” That talent flowed down through the generations through her father to her. Whether it’s for church or friends, Holly’s star has seemingly always shown through.
When I asked what was her first professionally paid gig, she paused for a moment. “You know I don’t actually remember, it was so long ago.” But she knows the moment she knew she wanted to sing for the rest of her life. It happened at her home church. “I was seven years old. It was the very first time I had ever gotten on stage to sing. Just to be in front of people that way, it was indescribable. I just knew this was the life I wanted.” Her faith is deep and she felt this was the best way to use her gift and passion to be a positive influence on others. This passion and gift took her on the road professionally when she was around 12 years old singing at churches, fairs, festivals, wherever there was an audience to hear her voice.
But it was her stint on NBC’s “The Voice” that propelled her from crooning in local venues here and there for a few hundred people to singing on a national stage weekly before an audience of millions. For most folks that might cause some anxiety, but for Tucker it meant something different. “The reason I auditioned was kind of a fluke. Previous to that, from 16 to 19, I had auditioned for several shows..American Idol, X Factor, America’s Got Talent, all that stuff, and had always gotten told ‘No’ so I was kinda done with that. I didn’t really want to do another show again or audition. But I happen to be in Dallas at the time of the Voice auditions so I was like why not? What’s another No?” Two successful audition rounds later she was asked to go to California and audition for some of the executive producers. “That’s when it got a bit more real for me”. She attributes her faith for putting her in that place at that time. “I had this inner peace it was going to be OK. The only thing I can explain that with was my belief that God was there with me because I was singing in front of millions of people for my life during the blind auditions. Just 90 seconds to prove myself was all I got.” That 90 seconds got all four judges to turn around their chairs, a rare feat on the show. “That kinda boosted my confidence too”, she laughed. And the rest is history.
As anyone who’s spent time with Holly can attest, she is a driven individual. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this young lady is just another pretty face. Since her TV debut, she’s been a busy lady. After “The Voice” she spent time putting together her new album “Steel”. She toured the country singing for thousands of her fans. She continued songwriting. And if that weren’t enough, she also completed her degree from Baylor. There are no signs of her slowing down anytime soon. “I’m going to Nashville in a few weeks to do some (song)writing. Not for a new album, I’m writing just to write, to get the best stuff out there. To get the best ‘Me’ out there.”
It’s no surprise that Holly is her own worst critic. “I’m very, very critical of myself and my voice. I’m definately my own worst critic. I will tear myself down before anyone else will.” She doesn’t want to be confused with other artists out there. “I’m not that typical nasally country girl singer. I’ve got power behind my vocals.” She went on to describe her sound as “country soul kinda like a female Chris Stapleton without the rough edge, a little bit more smooth. Real music.”
Her image is important to her too. In this day and age of optics she cares about how she’s perceived by her fans. “I’m not one of the bar chicks. I’ve always been clean and wholesome. I try to be an inspiration for young women, especially my age or younger. I want to be someone they can look up to. I know when I was a young girl starting out I had those influences in my life that impacted me, like Martina McBride, Reba, Trisha Yearwood, LeAnn Rimes. I want to be that for someone else. I want to pay it forward.”
When asked what she thought was more important to growing a performer’s brand these days, the interaction of live performances or social media, she was quick to respond. “Both honestly. Both are huge these days.” With 110,00 followers on Facebook, 12,000 on Instagram, and another 40,000 on Twitter, Holly is definitely a part of the digital age. She hosts special live feeds on her social media. An especially popular feature is “Tucker Tuesdays” in which she sings country favorites and interacts with fans live on video. She attributes this social media footprint to the growth of her audience at her shows.
I believe the future has much more to offer Holly Tucker. Her inner drive and her sincere charm are evident from the first moment you meet her. As she tours radio stations, dance halls, and auditoriums, her fanbase is sure to grow even more. I’ve met a lot of stars in my life, but her star seems to shine a little brighter, fueled by both her faith in herself and a higher power, and shows no signs of burning out anytime soon.