Female Friday: Danielle Bradbery

She's come a long way since The Voice!

Written by Cillea Houghton
Female Friday: Danielle Bradbery
Danielle Bradbery; Photo Credit: Ford Fairchild

Danielle Bradbery has come a long way from being the girl who sang alone in her bedroom to winning season four of the The Voice at the mere age of 16, becoming the youngest winner of the show at the time. Since then, she’s scored a Top 15 radio hit, released two studio albums and collaborated with the likes of Thomas Rhett, Zac Brown, Diplo and more. When talking about the next chapter in her life story, Bradbery can’t help but use the word “exciting.” One can feel that excitement in her voice, as the poised 25-year-old continues on the journey to find her true artistic self. In this edition of Female Friday, Bradbery shares her experience with anxiety, why she didn’t view The Voice as a competition, what sides of her we’ll see in this new phase of her career and more.  

When did you first feel a passion for music and when did you know that you wanted to make it your career?

I don’t think I’ve really had that “aha” moment. I’ve always known I loved to sing and loved music. That was a passion of mine and it was almost like a therapy to me. Growing up, I gained this shyness about me that I couldn’t push myself to do what I loved through music by myself. I kept it by myself in my room. My mom and family pushed me to do things like The Voice, so I’m very thankful for that nudge because I don’t know what I would be doing if I didn’t end up doing that. It’s been an experience and I think the more I do, the more I’m thankful and I’m constantly reminded on why I’m doing this. I don’t think I’ve had that one moment, but everything adding up has gotten me to where I am now.

Where do you think that shyness came from and how did you overcome it through the years?

I feel like I gained it from being in school. I think a lot of kids, that’s not a non-common thing. School wasn’t great for me. I wasn’t a straight A student, I wasn’t the most popular. It’s so funny because some people think it was the other type of school experience for me, but it wasn’t, and I’m like, ‘you don’t always have to be the popular one or always have to nail it in school, because I didn’t,’ which I like to share because I feel like sometimes there’s pressure and there can be some high expectations for kids, especially in school. I wasn’t great at it at all and I think through that I gained a shyness and those awkward years and all of that stuff. I’m better at controlling my shyness now. I feel a lot more confident, the things I’ve gotten to do and as I grow up. But I get shy, it comes out in certain situations. It’s funny because in little groups, if somebody asks me to sing, I get all shy again. It’s the funniest thing, I can sing in front of all these other people, but when it’s a really small group, it starts to come out a little bit and I see it every now and then. I don’t think it’ll ever go away, I’ll be able to handle it more and more [laughs]. Music had my back through all of that. It wasn’t great and it was rare when it was a good moment for me in school. There definitely were there those good memories, but the other side of it was a struggle. I would come home every day after school and run to music and that was my backbone and the thing that had my back when I was like, ‘okay, I’m going to go home and I’m going to sing and then I’ll be good’ [laughs]. Music is definitely a therapy for me, and I feel like for a lot of people. Even if you don’t sing or write music, just listening to music in general does something to us. I’m very blessed to be able to get to sing this music and write the songs and perform it and show it to everybody else, it’s a plus. It’s had my back for sure in low moments.

Talk about that experience of going from singing alone in your bedroom to performing on a national stage on The Voice?

I’ve thought about this a lot. It’s always on my mind, ‘oh my God, that’s impossible. How the heck did she do that?’ And I even thought about that for myself. I’m like, ‘how did I do that?’ But I honestly think me not having the experience and the knowledge of the music industry and anything that went behind it all benefited me in the long run. When I was on the show, I did not know what was happening. I didn’t know how it worked. I was there to experience everything and sing and perform. I didn’t look at it as a competition. I had moments where I was looking at my mom and like, ‘I think she’s going to win,’ my mom’s like, ‘that’s sweet, but you’re in this competition too.’ I let the producers and the people take me where I needed to be and hung out with Blake [Shelton], my coach at the time, whenever I needed to. I was literally soaking in every moment in that moment, and when it came to performing, I didn’t have any experience with that, but I let the adrenaline and that moment soak in all right there. My mom would laugh because she was like, ‘you would fall asleep before you had to go in hair and makeup,’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t even understand that’ [laughs]. Then I was hearing that other contestants who had been in the music industry and who had been trying for a while and who know how it works were the ones breaking out in hives and getting sick before the performances and having all these issues, and I did not ever feel like that. I felt super nervous and butterflies, but it never affected me that way. I think it benefited me that I didn’t know anything about what was going on and I was riding the wave of that whole experience. I think that it makes me appreciate it more now as I grow up because I got to live that whole experience right then and there, which is so special.

Through that whole show, I learned so many things. I met so many people and have gained relationships now that I will cherish forever. I think the confidence that I have gained through that show and Blake knowing how shy was, he helped me with that and my stage confidence, all the way to how I talk in interviews and how I carry myself. I did not know how to do any of that before the show. It taught me a lot about myself and how I talk and it made me grow up and find my confidence in a way. I’m still doing that, but it did it a little bit quicker. I think that was one of the biggest things that I got out of the show. It really pushed me out of my comfort zone, which I appreciate.

How have you evolved as an artist since being on The Voice?

I think it has a lot to do with trial and error. I’ve definitely done that starting at such a young age, even from little things as my outfits or how I carry myself in a room full of people and what I wear and everything like that. I love fashion and I love everything on that side of things. Then I think finding my look and what best represents Danielle Bradbery and what I want people to think when I walk in a room and that statement I drop in there, and that all has to do with confidence as well. I think that’s been a big thing I’ve learned finding who I am and definitely through music too. Songwriting has helped big with that, finding your own voice and what you want to say. I said that I wanted to be such an honest, vulnerable artist and talk about real stories, talk about real things that people actually go through, and that has definitely helped put something to my name as who Danielle Bradbery is. I’ve learned so much and a lot that has helped me get to where I am and try and find who I am as an artist and as a person. I’m constantly doing that. Every day leads me to finding myself even more. So it’s cool, it’s exciting.

I feel like we get to see more of your personality in your new song, “Stop Draggin’ Your Boots.” Talk to me about the inspiration behind that song and what drew you to it?

I think the biggest difference that people would maybe shocked about is I co-wrote seven out of the 10 [songs] on the last record and I dove into songwriting really heavily, but this song I actually didn’t write. I was thinking about this new project and path I’m going into as a fun experiment. It’s always about finding that right song, and I felt like when I first heard this one, it reminded me so much of Shania Twain and 90s country, but yet it meets today’s world. It’s hard to put those two together and make it actually sound catchy and appealable to today’s world because now having social media and Tik Tok and all these big platforms and such a younger crowd too, they might not really know much about the 90s country. The fact that it touches a little bit on that and touches a little bit on today, it’s such a win. I was like, ‘I’ve got to keep a grip on this song.’ What made it even more exciting and better is when it came to the music video, I love to dance and I wanted to bring that fun aspect to it, so we made an actual dance. Got with choreographer, got with dancers and made it a real dance song [and] video. Everything feels like it’s tying all together in the right way, and that’s how I know this is the right thing I need to be doing right now and [the] right song. When my own song gets stuck in my head, I’m like, ‘well, this should tell me something,’ so that’s a good sign.

What is on the horizon for you?

I’m really excited about this next chapter because besides “Stop Draggin’ Your Boots,” we have two other songs recorded. That’s so exciting and it’s like an experiment for me at this point because I’m finding these really great songs that I may have not shown other people before and some of them have that Texas country feel to them and showing people I’m from Texas. I want to sprinkle a little bit in there and push the limit a little bit with this new music and with my look and the love I have for fashion and all of these other things that I love to do. I want to put out there and show people that I never want to be in just one box. I am so into so many things and I think I’m doing more of a deep dive on all of that more than I ever have. In the past, we’ve been more focused on one thing, and that’s not my nature. I get a little frustrated or anxious when it’s just one thing when I have all these other ideas and all these other things I want to tie into it and make it that much more fun. This next chapter, the perfect word for it is it is “exciting.” I think I’m taking more of the pressure off of myself and relaying that to my team of ‘it’s amazing and a goal to have a number one [song] and all of those fun things, but all these other things, let’s have fun with this.’ All these other things are something I love to do and we’re getting to tie it all together into music and there’s a lot of fun projects and things that I’m getting myself into. I can’t wait to show everybody and “Stop Draggin’ Your Boots” is just the start of it, and it’s fun. It’s  new looks that people aren’t used to, it’s a little bit more a different of a sound than people are used to. I’ve even gotten other writers and people text me and be like, ‘this sounds like you, I think you’ve got it now,’ and that’s the best compliment I could get. I’m headed in the right direction.

I say this all the time, but I want people to know that you’re not going to get someone different from me. You’re going to get nothing but realness from me. I’m never going to lie to you. I’m never going to lead you astray from Danielle Bradbery and what I’m trying to offer and what I’m trying to put out there in the world. But I want to be an example for people. I try to be as positive as possible, but I also like to share the negative or the moments I’m not feeling as positive because that leads to comfort for people, that leads to peace, because all of us artists or people on Instagram or influencers, we are all influencers. We are a huge example, and if we’re not showing the realness of us, then it leads that next generation to a lie. I preach about honesty and that’s what I’ll do and stick to it. I want people to know that I’m true to who I am and relay that and try to stay as positive as possible.