Exclusive: Record Highs, Lows, and In-Betweens: Old School Country Singer-Songwriter Erin Enderlin Wraps Up EPs & Readies New Album Faulkner County
By Melissa Coker
Her heroes, though, have always been cowboys—and they still are, it seems. She’s been a featured performer on Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown tour and has written songs about him (“World Without Willie,” which received heavy rotation on CMT). But she wasn’t always living high. So what’s it like to break on through to the other side?
“I love being able to connect with people more as an artist,” she says. “I’ve gotten some really great compliments from folks about my videos; it’s really cool to see my music connecting people. I love music videos and it’s really cool to get to see mine on CMT. I feel so lucky to be able to make records that I absolutely love, and to get to work with some of the most amazing writers, musicians and of course producers of our time. It’s the kind of thing that makes me feels like all the years, and miles and struggle have been worth it.”
Enderlin’s had songs recorded by Rhonda Vincent (the recent No. 1 “Like I Could”), Grand Ole Opry icon and multiple hall-of-fame member Bill Anderson, Lee Ann Womack (“Last Call”), on recent albums by Rodney Crowell, Reba McEntire, Terri Clark (for whom she’s also opened) and more. “I met Bill Anderson in his Fan Fair line in 1998. I was so nervous that I forgot to get a picture! That being said he did not immediately want to write songs with nerdy 16-year-old me even though I was carrying around a Trapper Keeper full of all the songs I’d written in case anyone did.”
Not only has Whisperin’ Bill since changed his tune and written with Erin, she even sweet-talked him into featuring her alongside him with the likes of Tanya Tucker and Opry star Jeannie Seely in his 2018 video for “Waffle House Christmas” (co-written by Enderlin).
“Bill got together with Alex Kline and me,” she says “and I had this crazy idea for a song about having Christmas at Waffle House. At the time I didn’t realize that Bill is from the home of Waffle House in Georgia—so I guess it was meant to be! I believe the video was the brainchild of Bill’s manager Lee Willard, and it was so cool that Bill let me sit right up next to him in it,” Enderlin says. “I think the best advice from Bill is more in what he does than what he says. For example, the first time I wrote with him he was still pushing for the right lines at 7 p.m. He doesn’t have to do that, but he loves the music and he takes a lot of pride in what he does. He’s one of a kind.”
Those days of carrying around a Trapper Keeper led Enderlin to be somewhat of a dream weaver—literally. She can add co-writer on a number-one-charting bluegrass song to her credit, as her dreams recently became even more vivid when Opry star Jeannie Seely (“after bugging her for years to write with her”) rang Enderlin up one night to inform her, “Okay, I had a dream we were writing so I guess we better do it!”
It just so happened that Enderlin was working with hit writer Bobby Tomberlin (a Grammy, ACM, CMA nominee) when the call came in. So, soon making good on her promise, the three—Enderlin, Tomberlin and Seely—gathered together and out came “If I Could.”
“She had that great idea and we wrote it in an hour or less,” recalls Enderlin. “Jeannie ended up with Rhonda Vincent at an event and told her about the song. She ended up playing it for her and Rhonda loved it and said ‘I’m cutting that!’ I actually got the call from Jeannie that Rhonda was cutting it on my birthday, which was extra special,” Enderlin adds. “I just love how Rhonda did it, she’s just amazing and has been so kind to have us all out at the Opry and places when she’s been singing it.”
Following Enderlin’s self-titled release, 2013’s I Let Her Talk, 2017’s concept record, Whiskeytown Crier, and a quartet of passion-project EPs, Enderlin’s much-anticipated full-length 14-track project, Faulkner County, will be available Nov. 1. Produced by Jamey Johnson and Jim “Moose” Brown, it features the songs from her EPs plus two new to Faulkner.
“[With the EPs] my fans get new music more often, and I get to be putting out new music. I’ve enjoyed getting to spread it out and kinda savor it a little at a time.”
Enderlin wrote Faulkner’s two new tracks, “Hell Coming Down” and “Run, Baby, Run” with Ryan Tyndell and Felix McTeigue and (album co-producer) Jim “Moose” Brown, respectively. “I love both songs—lots of fiddle and steel and some great harmonies too,” she says. Among the special guests to appear on the album are Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, Terri Clark and Cody Jinks.
Enderlin was a featured act on Jamey Johnson’s SiriusXM Outlaw Country Tour, AmericanaFest and CMA Fest, and crossed the Atlantic for her first UK run (“There are some great people over there . . . and I’m never driving on the left side of the road, ever!” she says). In June, she took home three Arkansas Country Music Awards including Female Vocalist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. From Whiskeytown to Faulkner County, the local world traveler continues to create just the right mix of strong songs to savor.
“I gravitate towards songs and production that make me feel something—and like Reba says, if it speaks to you, it will probably speak to someone else."
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**This article is an edited version of the same interview which originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of The Murfreesboro Pulse.
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