Today’s country music hit makers boast an ever widening range of pedigrees, but the ones with true staying power always seem to share a few common threads: country roots, performing at an early age, an early recognized and cultivated desire to write songs, and a powerful, soulful voice that can turn a head as easily as it can touch a heart. Singer/ songwriter Madeline Bales could sew herself a rhinestone jacket to wear on the Opry stage with those threads…

Born and raised in Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee, Madeline found herself singing for tips as a 4-year-old to clients waiting in a small town beauty shop, which led to public performances at local malls and a venue that would make Loretta Lynn proud- karaoke nights at the Suck Creek Grocery in Suck Creek, Tennessee! Those performances, along with the requisite musical productions in Elementary and Middle School, fed a passion for singing and a realization that this was not just a hobby, this was her calling. As far back as she remembers, Madeline says “I’ve always been able to feel a song; I like to give that emotion and connect with an audience and show them what I really love to do.”

Not satisfied with singing cover tunes, she started penning her own songs at 11 years old. Madeline’s songwriting talents come honestly; her musician father introduced her to the greatest songwriters from the beginning- the first song he taught her to sing along with in the car was The Eagles’ Take It Easy, followed soon after by classics from the likes of Loretta Lynn, Neil Young, and Simon and Garfunkel. Her father was also her first collaborator, teaching her the guitar, then carefully coaching her and unknowingly preparing her for the skill of co-writing, a must-have talent for any writer seeking success in Nashville.

Realizing there was no stopping this little girl with big dreams, Madeline’s parents enlisted the help of renowned Nashville vocal coach Diane Sheets (Little Big Town, Natalie Grant, Casting Crowns) to help develop the voice that was now garnering attention further and further from her hometown. First came the radio shows with names that evoke the likes of Patsy Cline and Kitty Wells: Nashville Traditions from Bell Buckle, Tennessee and The Old Time Country Radio Show from Lynchburg. Then the game changer that has helped turn the music industry on its ear and shifted Madeline’s career into high gear: YouTube.

Like any 12 year old in 2009, Madeline watched her favorite singers online, and then noticed something that lit a spark- people were posting their own versions of famous songs as well as their original compositions- no record contract required! With the help of her father, Madeline started recording versions of pop and country songs with no expectations, and certainly no idea of how popular they would become- she now has broken the one million views mark and caught the attention of viewers across the world.

In the summer of 2012, fate intervened as though it were following the script of an inspirational Lifetime movie- Madeline’s father’s architectural career landed him in a town she had her sights on for years: Nashville. Madeline focused on her writing and performing skills as a way to fight off the teenage angst of leaving friends and family for a new town. She also found herself in the advanced stages of auditions for both The Voice and American Idol, going as far as winning her golden ticket to Hollywood in 2015. Her experience in Hollywood taught her a lot about herself and the hard edge of the west coast music industry- after performing during Hollywood Week for Idol, she found herself agreeing with Waylon Jennings that ‘I Don’t Think Hank Done It This Way’ and returned to Nashville with a renewed determination to make it in country music on her own terms. She now has something to compare the Nashville experience with and wouldn’t trade it for any reality success; according to Madeline, “In Nashville, we help other artists, we don’t look at them as competition. It’s like the artists understand one another. We enjoy seeing other artists succeed, because we know how hard it is to get there”.

That resolve has resulted in some of her best writing yet, with some of her songs catching the ear of hit Nashville songwriter Ben Hayslip. Hayslip invited her to write with developing writers at THiS Music, resulting in songs like the heartfelt Plz Don’t Start A War, the summertime feel good vibe of Rollin’ With Da Waves, the plaintive side of jealousy in Her, or the rollicking up tempo Check, a young woman’s version of her wish list that has listeners singing along by the second chorus.

Give Madeline Bales a listen, and while you do, think about those common threads: Country roots? Check. Singing from an early age? Check. Talented songwriter? Check. A voice that grabs you and leaves you wanting more? Check. Oh, and one more- your favorite song from your favorite new artist? Check!