Kylie Morgan wasn’t the little girl who dreamed of fancy wedding dresses, an elaborate white cake and a church with a petal-strewn aisle. She longed for a microphone and a spotlight.
“While every little girl was planning her wedding, I was a little girl that was planning my career,” Morgan says. “I was planning on signing my record deal. That was my wedding to me, like the first EP. The ironic part was I released my debut EP and got engaged in the same week. I think for the first time, God was like, ‘Kylie girl, you know, you could have both.'”
That was June of 2021. Ten months later, Morgan is knee-deep in planning her wedding to fellow country singer Jay Allen. She is preparing to release her next EP, “P.S.,” and has the biggest hit of her career with her female anthem, “Independent With You.”
The song was inspired by the realization that she could have the career she’s dreamed of since she was a child and a relationship where she feels supported and secure. She co-wrote “Independent With You” with Erik Belz and Palmer Lee and sings: Can I stand on my own two feet while you hold my hand?| Can I be my own woman with you as my man?| Can I let you in without changing who I am?|Do I have to choose?|Can I still be independent with you?
The song is so personal; she didn’t record it for her EP and didn’t plan to release it because the lyrics were specific to her story and being married to her dreams. Late one night, she decided to put the song’s demo on TikTok so people to hear it in case it could help them, too. It was around midnight; Morgan went to bed and woke up about 10 hours later to discover it had surpassed 1 million views. “Independent With You” is the first song of Morgan’s career to hit the milestone.
She was excited but hesitant to believe the vast number was due to fan engagement, instead telling herself it probably “like hit the algorithm or something crazy.” She posted another song and earned 2.2 million views. She had thousands of comments from people thanking her for writing music that verbalizes what they’d felt for years.
“It was all these overwhelmingly beautiful comments,” she says. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, well then, we need to release this song.'”
Morgan called her record label, Universal Music Group Nashville, and explained the response she’d seen from the song and that she thought people wanted to hear it. Because she’d recently recorded music, the label wasn’t supportive of her going back into the studio so soon. She decided to keep building the song’s story. Each time she posted “Independent With You,” it went viral. Then she reposted “Cuss A Little,” her Walker Hayes duet she released a year and a half ago. Fans loved it, too. “Cuss A Little” climbed to No. 17 on iTunes’ country chart and received a vast sales and streaming bump. She went back to her label and explained her experiment with “Cuss A Little” proved that TikTok views were translating to legitimate sales and streams. Executives agreed to let her release it immediately. Instead, she asked for a pre-save link. Typically, the links don’t generate much interest but Morgan’s “Independent With You” got 20,000 presaves. The hefty number was a signal to the streaming services that listeners cared about the song, which helps with playlisting.
She released “Independent With You,” and the song not only performed well on streaming services and made it to No. 3 on the country iTunes chart, but Sirius XM’s The Highway started playing “Independent with You” and “Cuss a Little.”
All of it happened in three months.
“It was such an exhale because I was just getting so frustrated with the pace of everything,” Morgan says. “I just was working my ass off and still just like walking on a treadmill. So for movement to finally happen and for so many people to discover ‘Independent With You,’ and all my other music, it’s just been like, ‘Oh my God. It’s finally all coming together. They continue to say build your story. Finally, the story is getting built and told. I’m just like so happy about it.”
Morgan even wrote the video treatment for the song, and it stars her groom and his best man. Allen, of course, gets the girl.
“For the first time ever, it is going to be exactly what I envisioned, and for the first time ever, Jay is going to be the male lead in the music video,” she says. “It’s so fun because finally, the person I wrote it about will be actually the person in it.”
While “Independent With You” hit hard and fast, the journey toward a viable music career is one Morgan has been on since she was 12 years old. The Oklahoma native signed her first record deal at 14 years old and thought that by signing so early, she’d be headlining stadiums when she was 18.
“My wide-eyed self had no idea that dreams took so long,” she says. “When they say this is a 10-year town, they are not joking, and we’re on year like 12 now. Thank God no one told me that it was gonna take this long because I don’t know if I would’ve done it or at least had the same attitude about it.”
Now her career and her personal life are coming together at once. She and Allen have set a wedding date and chose a sunny Florida location for their nuptials. But that’s where the tradition stops. They are getting married on a dock in a shipyard, having a tattoo artist at their wedding reception, and Morgan has zero interest in a typical wedding cake. She thinks she might opt for a giant cookie.
“It’s gonna be so fun,” she says. “We’re gonna make it our own. It’s going to be the most unpractical untraditional wedding that people have ever been to.”