Gabby Barrett is undoubtedly sitting on a goldmine. For the American Idol contestant turned breakout country star, 2020 has been a year of mounting success with her debut single “I Hope” racing to the top of the Billboard Country Airplay chart. At only 20 years old, Barrett became the first woman to have her debut single claim the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart since Carrie Underwood achieved the feat in 2006 with “Jesus Take the Wheel.” The song also spawned a crossover hit when it became a duet with pop singer Charlie Puth, reaching the top 10 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100. Meanwhile, Barrett and husband Cade Foehner announced they are expecting their first child, the singer able to cross multiple dreams off the bucket list in the midst of a chaotic year.
The sky rocketing star recently sat down for a virtual interview with Sounds Like Nashville and other members of the media to reflect on the journey of “I Hope,” why she doesn’t want to fully transition to pop music and the best advice she’s received from Underwood.
SLN: I’m imagining that you have heard some insane stories and drawn out a lot of people wanting to tell you how your song has impacted and what’s happened. Have you heard some really wild stories about cheating and the ways people have used your song?
Barrett: Absolutely. I’ve gotten so many messages about people’s stories, but it’s always come back to a positive ending in a way of ‘your song really helped me get to this place,’ and that’s something that I really took from those messages was the positivity from it of this song is actually helping people throughout their lives to move past such a hurtful situation that unfortunately a ton of people go through, not just girls, but men as well. I’m amazed at it every single day that the song continues to be played and heard and felt by people and actually helps them. But I have heard some crazy stories that are very unfortunate, because anytime anybody’s caught in that situation of cheating and all those terrible things, it’s very unfortunate to hear. But if the song is helping people, then it means a lot to me.
I want to continue talking about the pop success of your song [“I Hope”]. I wonder specifically what it’s like when you’re going through life and you hear The Weeknd or Harry Styles and then your song comes on.
It sounds so cliché, but I can’t really put words to it because you spend so long in this mindset of wanting to get to that spot, and then when it’s actually all of a sudden here, in the past two years, so many things have happened for me, in the past year so many things have happened for me, and it’s something I never would have thought of coming from my first song push. “I Hope” was the fourth song I had ever written in Nashville, Tennessee. It’s just amazing to see how this is unraveling and it’s mind blowing being put up next to names like Harry Styles and The Weeknd and people that are just huge. So I don’t even think people listen to my music that are up there, and not even Charlie Puth, but I guess he does, and so it’s really cool to see. I’ve been able to let it sink in during this large time off from being on the road, so it’s been really nice.
I’m really blessed to see this song, which was originally meant for firstly country music, to spill over into pop and be doing so well. That’s been wonderful to see, but I’m not sure if I’d ever create something fully pop, just because I am very much a country girl at heart. Country music is my favorite type of music and it’s my favorite to make and it’s my favorite to sing, and so I always want to establish myself at country music first and foremost. But if any of my other songs wanted to ever spill into anything else even outside of pop music, that would be awesome too. I have a song off of my album Goldmine that’s also being played on Christian radio, so there’s a lot of different stuff going on. But I will always establish myself first and foremost at country radio.
Can you give me the story behind [“The Good Ones”] and why you decided to make that your next single after “I Hope” because it’s entirely different messages.
“The Good Ones” is another special song. “I Hope” is of course special in its own way, but “The Good Ones” felt really special in a lot of different ways as well. One of the main reasons we released it after “I Hope” was one, I think you’re getting to know me really well through my music, “I Hope” being a taste of my past, “The Good Ones” being my present. You’re getting to know me quickly and how I am as a person in a lot of different ways and even in my writing sense through my music. “The Good Ones” I think during this quarantine and all of this going on, what feels like negativity for a lot of people this year, it was good to put out a positive song that I think people needed some type of positive message.
The song was inspired by my sweet husband and I wrote it with a couple friends last year. How the idea came about was we were sitting there thinking about what we wanted to write and I remembered when I was dating my husband at the time, a lot of family members would ask me ‘how’s your boyfriend doing’ and I’d be like, ‘he’s good, he’s a good one. He’s a keeper,’ and I have heard other girls say that before to people, I’ve heard that remark be said. One of the girls in the writing session said that ‘I have a good one too’ and I was like this is clearly what we need to write about, we need to write about the good ones, because with “I Hope” it’s a very vengeful, hurting song, but I don’t want people to think that I’m saying never get into a relationship, never trust anybody because that’s not what I’m saying, but to know that there are good ones out there and that I’ve found mine.
In the ACM [Awards] press room, Carrie Underwood said she had a conversation with you. Do you mind sharing what she said and if she gave you any advice?
She gave me a lot of advice. Carrie is somebody that I will always toot her horn. She’s somebody who’s very kind and humble and just nice and genuine to talk to. You don’t know how a celebrity is going to be when you first meet them and that’s something that I learned about her very quickly, and I think everybody knows about her by now. When she came onto my season of American Idol in 2018, after the show, she ended up giving me her phone number and saying, ‘if you ever need anything, let me know, I’m on your team, I’m here for you,’ which meant a ton. I took her up on that and I remember American Idol ending and I called her one day, I pulled over on the side of the road and I called her and I remember I was like, ‘what are you doing?’ And she’s like, ‘I’m doing laundry and I’m putting my son to bed,’ and I was like, ‘this can’t really be happening. I’m talking to Carrie Underwood right now.’”
I had asked her, ‘how do you keep the ball rolling after you come off of a television show that’s a singing show because I don’t want to end up like one of these people that go downward instead of upward from this, because it was such an amazing opportunity and I want to keep going and I want to get to eventually where you’re at, hopefully.’ She always talked about hard work and perseverance, looking forward, working on days that you didn’t want to. That’s what she did, and that’s something that I really appreciate about her and something that we connected on because I like to work a lot. I like to work hard for anything that I’m passionate about and she does too, and so that was a lot of helpful advice for me at that time, especially because I really got to work in diving into the Nashville community of writers and people and wanting to get to work on my team in general. So now I can call her friend, which is pretty cool.
What is something that you’re really looking forward to about being a mom or something maybe that you’re nervous about?
I have wanted to be a mom for a very long time. It’s something that I prayed about it in high school and for the past year, it’s been something that has laid on my heart. I always would pray for a future spouse and pray for my future children hopefully that I’ll be able to have, and to now be at that point is so exciting for me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to think of ‘what are they going to look like?’ ‘Who are they going to be like?’ I have a whole note pad on my phone of baby names and I know I’m not the only one that does that. I know other girls do that. I’m just really excited to see what it brings. Like everybody says it changes your life in a whole different way. You think you could love somebody so much, but somehow it keeps expanding your love capacity for something and I’m just excited to have a little creation of somebody that I love very much, my husband, as well as myself, and just shows the beautifulness of the Lord and what he gives to us, children, so I’m just excited for that. We do have a name, but we’re going to keep it until she’s born, but we do and hope everybody else likes it too.
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Happy 1 year Marriage Anniversary to my other half. This year has been one to remember. Settling into our first home together, all the memories and now expanding our family. I will forever be grateful for how selfless and loving you are towards me. Never in a million years, would I have thought I’d end up with the most southern, charming, kind, and smart man, from the pines of E Texas. Thank you for leading our family the way that you do. You are my perfect fit, in every way. I am so blessed. I feel our little gal moving around in my tummy as i’m typing this. 🙂 Little does she know, she has the best daddy in the world! I.Love.You. We.Love.You Forever & Always ❤️ ~ your Wife
What are some of the biggest lessons that you’ve learned this year and how are you going to apply them to your life moving forward?
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is the gift in having a break from whatever you’re passionate about. From me performing from age 11 vigorously, I was one of those people that got into the mindset of I have to be doing something every day or else I don’t feel productive and if I have one day off, somebody else is going to be doing something that I should be doing that’s productive. I had that mindset of constantly just go 24/7 and never really understood the gift in patience or having breaks for a little bit to take a breather, and so this year has been so nice in so many ways. It’s been a large gift to be able to spend time with family and watch my little nephew grow and let everything sink in that’s been happening for me over the past year.
That’s another thing that’s really hard when you’re in the normal artist grind, fast paced life. It’s hard when all these accomplishments are coming in to really let them sink in and allow you to think about it and feel everything about it, so I’ve been able to do that. There’s so many things that I’m grateful for, but just learning that there is a gift in taking a break for a minute and to know that and be reminded of we are not in control, but the Lord is always in control and I think people are knowing that from what’s been going on this this past year, so I’ve been taking comfort in that as well.