Like many artists, Tiffany Woys feels at home in Music City. The Sacramento native has walked a winding road to achieve her country music dreams, abandoning her plans to be a lawyer in exchange for a career in music, releasing a self-titled debut EP in 2019, along with her breakout song, “Hostage.” In the latest edition of Female Friday, Woys chats with Sounds Like Nashville about her early music influences, current single, “Loved by You” and the connection between the courtroom and the stage.
SLN: What was it like growing up in Sacramento?
Tiffany Woys: I loved growing up in California. I’m so happy I am where I am now, Nashville to me is so much more home. I think where I was always supposed to be was here, with or without music. I feel like I never felt quite at home in California the way I do here. My parents didn’t listen to country music, so there was nothing that should have pushed me in the direction of country music. My biggest influence was Celine Dion. My mom listened to Celine, Rod Stewart, Michael Bolton, those kinds of people. What led me to country music was the first time I heard LeAnn Rimes, and I loved her, and I think then I didn’t really understand genre. It really turned into I wanted to be a vocalist, and that was my big introduction into music. From there it was Martina McBride, Faith Hill, people that were really stylists and vocalists, and I would try and imitate them at first. It really taught me that I wanted to be on a stage and sing.
I went off to college and then when I came home I was like “I’m not giving this up.” So I decided to put together a band in Sacramento and I toured up and down the West coast for four to five years. I saw this more as a full time career and I knew I had to be here in Nashville, which I’m so glad I did.
Your parents wanted you to be a lawyer. Why did you choose music?
I wanted to be a criminal lawyer because I think at some point we all think “maybe this isn’t a real option.” What I realized is why I wanted to do it was because it was like an imaginary stage. I was in front of people and I was putting on a show and I was acting, in a sense, and I was playing a role. I was doing something like what music does when you are taking a song and you’re making the audience feel something. My job was to make the jury feel something, so I related those two. When I finally got home from school, I said “I’m not saying that I wouldn’t be good at this and I’m not saying that I know it wouldn’t be great, but it’s not really scratching the itch. It’s not really feeding the passion. I need to do what my heart really wants. Since I was five years old, [music] is what I wanted to do and I’m still not changing my mind.” I think there’s something to be said there that I never steered away completely. I would drive home every weekend from college to work with a vocal coach. So my parents saw this as “she really does like this, she wants to do this.” They wanted me to be a lawyer, I thought I did at one point, but then I realized why I wanted to be [an artist], it was because I was trying to feed the passion, which was entertaining.
What are some causes or organizations that are important to you?
There’s a few things that I’ve always been really passionate about and one is St. Jude. I used to do some singing with the children’s hospitals back in California and that means a lot to me. Another one is the March of Dimes. I was a premature baby. I was born a month and a half early and I was hooked up to machines and very prone to little things with my health now because of being a premature baby. There’s not a lot of focus on premature infants and the struggle with that and how I’m so lucky to where I have all my organs fully developed. A lot of babies do not get that opportunity because it was so bad, and so that is something that is really strong to me because I have minor health conditions, but it’s something that I can absolutely relate to.
If I’m going to go back to something that means a lot to me personally, it’s definitely March of Dimes and anything that has to do with substance abuse because I released a song and video, “Hostage,” about being in a relationship that was toxic, and that to me is also really important. I think it’s terrifying to talk to people about substance abuse because it’s a taboo topic. But dealing with people and being in a relationship with people that might have a substance abuse is something that I think needs to be talked about more because the person who’s also at home dealing with it, they need a lot of help because you can’t fix somebody, they have to want to fix themselves, and it causes a lot of mental illness and a lot of effects afterwards.
How would you describe your sound, vision and the messages that you convey through your music?
I definitely have a pop-country flair where I like to keep the respect and the love for country with certain instruments, but I have an edge and a pop to me, and that’s what it is with big, dynamic vocals. That is something that I love to do and sometimes can bite me in the butt, but it’s something that pushes me and makes me better. When it comes to the messages that I’m always trying to portray and put out there is everyone has a love story. Whether they’ve been broken-hearted, angry, fallen in love for the first time or they’re falling in love again. That was my journey into music was in all the heat of me finding the one, falling in love, going through all of these mistakes, and those songs to me never go out of style. Those are things that are relatable to male and female. I look at that when I’m pitched songs, I think to myself, “lyrically, does this relate to a man and a woman?” Because I think that’s also important…you have to make sure that when people are turning that dial and they’re listening, that it’s something that they can take their life story and put it to. I think that’s what country music is – it’s storytelling. I don’t see myself straying away from love songs whether that’s the good, the bad and the ugly because I feel like those stories don’t go out of style. It’s something that everybody is going through every day.
Tell us about your single, “Loved by You,” and what inspired you to record it.
I came in to my producer’s house and we had to cut something and he knows I was looking for songs and he’s like “I have a song I need you to listen to. I wrote this with a few people and I have you in mind for this song so will you take a listen?” He pushed play and within 20 seconds of the song, my mouth dropped to the ground and I started getting teary eyed and I was like “you need to send that to me, this is my love story. This is my words to him [Woys’ boyfriend Jeff]. These are exactly my feelings.” When I listen to songs, I know within 30 seconds, I don’t need a second listen. A first reaction, that’s your most important reaction. Lyrically I was like, “you nailed it. Everything I’d ever wanted to say to this guy is in this song.” Within a month I was back in there recording it and I knew I wanted to make it a single and wanted it to be something that I pushed at radio. I have this gut instinct about the song, there’s something so special about it. It’s definitely my favorite thing that I’ve put out to date.
Get the latest with Tiffany, including the acoustic release of “Loved By You,” by clicking here.