Stephanie Quayle Proves That Women Are ‘Much More Than a Topic’

“Women are much more than a topic. We're really good at what we do and we find a way. It's not about what we can't do, it's what we can do."

Written by Cillea Houghton
Stephanie Quayle Proves That Women Are ‘Much More Than a Topic’
Stephanie Quayle; Photo credit: Rachel Deeb

When Stephanie Quayle was merely four years old, she had no qualms about pulling a neighborhood bully off his bike to stand up for herself and those around her. She carries this same integrity into her music and business acumen, which has made her one of Nashville’s most persistent, yet arguably underrated artists.

Quayle is on her way to fulfilling the prophecy that Nashville is a 10-year town. Recording and writing songs in Music City for nearly a decade, she achieved a breakthrough in the industry’s glass ceiling with her 2017 single “Selfish,” which cracked the Billboard charts and elicited an emotive response from fans, many of whom shared with Quayle that they interpreted the song’s message as “aggressive.”

“I found that very interesting. I actually took it as a compliment; most people would be maybe offended,” she expresses of the song written from an honest perspective. Quayle knows there’s a universal factor to the idea that people want to be selfish with the ones they love, turning this notion into a set of romantic lyrics where she’s not afraid to embrace her sultry side. She draws comparisons to one of country music’s most powerful female voices, Loretta Lynn, and the risks she took when writing songs. Lynn expressed her opinions of divorce, war and birth control at a time when it was considered controversial for a woman to tackle such topics. Quayle recognizes the same boldness in Lynn’s songs in her own lyrics.

“When you think back to Loretta Lynn and some of the provocative lyrics that she had in that time, the lyrical content is definitely something that’s just fascinating,” she describes. Quayle was inducted into the CMT Next Women of Country in 2019, a crowning achievement she’s long worked for, alongside another lifelong goal that came to fruition when she made her debut on the Grand Ole Opry in April of 2018, a defining moment personally and professionally. “It’s like something switched in me, it’s like ‘okay, you can be here,’” she reflects assuredly. “I think that as artists, we’re so self critical. It’s our music, it’s our hearts; we’re putting it all on the line being vulnerable and raw. It’s us that’s being critiqued, so I think that these moments for us just gives us that ‘keep going.’ It’s usually the last mile that’s the hardest.”

Quayle also channels her self-assurance into her mentality as a businesswoman. As the founder of her independent record label Rebel Engine Entertainment, Quayle is using her platform to help other women in the industry. With its top positions including vice president and label manager fulfilled by women, Quayle is turning her words about fighting for women in country music into action. “There’s a lot of women that I’m part of their employment. I founded the label on the desire to have a place where women can have a voice and I wanted to start with my own because I knew that one,” she explains.

As the conversation continues to grow around female representation in the genre, Quayle sees that as a positive sign of what’s to come. ” I’m excited. I think that if anything, it’s just more confirmation that we are getting heard,” she says. “Women are much more than a topic. We’re really good at what we do and we find a way. It’s not about what we can’t do, it’s what we can do.”