Country music fans stood shoulder-to-shoulder in Dawg House Saloon inside Resorts World Las Vegas awaiting Priscilla Block. A red neon Budweiser sign glowed over the stage as girls in trucker hats and their plaid shirt boyfriends chose between saving their coveted front row spot and going to the bar for another drink.
Block’s debut album “Welcome to the Block Party” was less than 24 hours old and she was ready to celebrate – and so were her fans.
The band kicked off and Block, clad in fitted jeans and a sparking top that accentuates her famous curves, appeared to wild applause. She spent the next hour working the stage, strutting confidently back and worth as she delivered a mix of her popular songs including “Peaked in High School,” “Thick Thighs,” “Just About Over You” and “My Bar” with crowd-pleasing covers from Lizzo, Morgan Wallen and a handful of ‘90s country favorites.
The scene was a far cry from her reality two years ago when the pandemic hit, stalled her gigs, halted her income and her ability to pay rent. With no shows on the horizon, Block turned her attention to social media to build her fan base. She made and a TikTok account, started posting original songs and it changed her life. Within six months, Block had a record deal with Universal Music Group Nashville and was on the fast track to country radio.
“I came to the realization the other day that I’m just not going to sleep for about three years,” Block said in the weeks leading up to her album launch. “Then, maybe I’ll be able to get some sleep. Dramatic, but it’s true.”
Her ingenuity and hard work paid off this month when Block earned an Academy of Country Music Awards nomination for New Female Artist of the Year. Her album came out a few days later, and this week SiriusXM surprised Block with a gold plaque certifying that “Just About Over You” has sold or streamed the equivalent of 500,000 copies – a milestone that almost left her speechless.
“There’s been a lot of highs and lows, and you have to be on all the time,” Block said of the last two years. “You have to be able to look back and know that I’m so happy I trusted my gut on things. We accomplished a lot last year, and when you’re going through times it’s hard, but looking back to see everything happens for a reason is cool.”
Much of “Welcome to the Block Party” is inspired by her triumphing over those hard times.
Block penned “Just About Over You” with Sarah Jones and Emily Kroll during an era when she says her life was “falling apart.” She ran into her ex at a bar, wrote “Just About Over You” with her friends over FaceTime a couple of weeks later. She had no clue it was going to be the song that completely changed her life.
Block posted “Just About Over You” to TikTok the day after they wrote it and it ignited a social media storm that inspired thousands of people to send Block messages.
“I was just so thankful and honestly like very, very overwhelmed and emotion,” she said of watching people react to the song. “I felt like things were kind of done, you know? So seeing this happen, it really was like, ‘Oh my gosh, there could be a chance with all of this.’”
At the time, Block had been in Nashville for seven years and was working a day job to facilitate her artist aspirations at night.
“Just About Over You” not only became her first gold album, but it was also among the trio of songs that helped Block ink her record deal. “My Bar” and “Thick Thighs” – both of which join “Just About Over You” – on the album, rounded out her set for the record label.
While “Just About Over You” was a turning point for her career, Block said “Thick Thighs” was a personal breakthrough.
“I just spent so much of my life consumed with what people thought of me and with what I thought of myself,” she said. “I hit puberty and all of a sudden I had big boobs and a big butt, and that wasn’t cool back then. It was just fat. I remember thinking, ‘I want to do music, but will it work because I don’t look like Carrie Underwood?’ I spent so much of my life feeling like I had to be less than what I was.”
When she shared “Thick Thighs” on social media, thousands of people commiserated and encouraged her to keep going.
“’Thick Thighs’ is a song that really changed my outlook on who I am as an artist and who I am as a person,” she said. “I can be me and the response I get from people when I sing songs about being truly me and authentically myself. That gives me the confidence that I need.”
“My Bar,” her current single, comes from sharing that confidence with other people. Block walked into a bathroom in a bar and found a girl crying because her ex had shown up. She told her she was beautiful and tore some paper towels out the dispenser for the girl to use to clean her face. She encouraged her to get back out there because it was “her bar.”
“Peaked in High School” was inspired by all the telephone calls Block got from people she hadn’t heard from in years after she started to experience a little bit of fame. “I Know a Girl,” which she wrote with Hillary Lindsey and David Garcia, reflects on surviving the most challenging times in her life. She didn’t think she would recover from her parents’ divorce or the guy she thought she was going to marry – but she moved on from both.
“It’s just the whole idea that you don’t need anyone to get you through anything in life,” she said. “You got that in you. It helps to have great people around, but you’ve got everything you need in you.”
The sentiment isn’t far from what Block hopes to impart with the entire album – the belief you can do anything you can set your mind to.
“I want people to take away they can 100 percent be who they are, and they don’t have to dim their shine for anyone else,” she said. “Whether you’re a hot mess or you’re gaining weight or you’re going through a hard breakup or you’re the drunk girl at the bar who can’t get it together, whatever it is. Be you. Don’t be ashamed of it.”