The morning we spoke with rising country music star Madeline Edwards, she’d woken up under a Texas sky. It was a little cloudy maybe, but nothing too worrisome for Edwards, who weathered literal and figurative storms growing up in Houston, moments which prepared her for the current whirlwind of her success.
She was at the airport when we chatted, flying away from Austin, where she’d performed with Alanis Morissette, Ingrid Andress, Morgan Wade and Lainey Wilson an evening earlier at the 2023 CMT Music Awards. Headed home for Nashville, where her career has zoomed since relocating two years ago from Houston, we asked how it felt to be back on Texas soil, even if just for a moment.
“Oh man, it’s so great. I’m so ready to be back home. I’m turning 30 this week and I’m going back to Texas when I come back for the shows in Houston and Dallas and Georgetown, I’m actually staying the rest of the month in Texas and splitting my time between Austin and Houston just because I freaking love it here. I can’t get enough time here, honestly.”
As she mentioned, fans won’t have to wait long for her return to the Lone Star State. Edwards is touring behind her stunning debut album Crashlanded, with shows slated every month from now to September across the U.S. and in the U.K. From her Heights Theater stop Friday, April 14, to a July date in London and a spot on Lollapalooza in August, this singer-songwriter will be thrilling audiences with her brand of jazzy, soulful country music.
Edwards arrived to Houston from California as a teen and started her career here, playing gigs at restaurants to help with finances at home and pay her way through college. She’s said she began music at just four years old and started writing songs before middle school. She’s part of a musical family which includes her brother Micah Edwards, who will open her approaching Houston and Dallas dates. When she left for Nashville in 2021 to pursue her career in earnest, all the years of preparation warped into light speed mode. Signed by Warner Music Nashville, Edwards soon made her Grand Ole Opry debut, appeared on the Today show, drew accolades from news outlets like Rolling Stone, People and NPR and was asked to perform dates on Chris Stapleton’s 2022 All-American Road Show.
Midway through Crashlanded, Edwards delivers the line, “I ain’t scared of nothing,” in the song “The Wolves,” an anthemic, dare-you-to-try-me paean to resilience and self-reliance. You feel the truth in her delivery. Years of hard work have given her that kind of confidence. There have been so many scrapbook moments lately, we wondered if there was one which actually gave Edwards pause.
“Yesterday was incredible. It’s really actually fun being back in Texas and doing a show as iconic as yesterday’s and getting to be a part of such an iconic performance,” she said of singing Morissette’s hit “You Oughta Know” to celebrate CMT’s Next Women of Country campaign. “It was obviously really overwhelming and personal, but I’m very good friends with Ingrid Andress and the women that I performed with onstage.”
Like Edwards, those performers are no shrinking violets. They seemed perfect to update Morissette’s brash 1990s hit.
“I like to associate myself with kind of like the badass crew of women. I’m not really about the pageantry or the glitz and the glam. I’m kind of more about what’s good music, what’s rock and roll, what’s going to be timeless. And I feel like all of those women I was onstage with also have the same appreciation for that. It was just such a cool way to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of the CMT Next Women of County class.
“I feel like getting asked to go on tour with Chris Stapleton was probably one of the things that gave me real pause, mostly because he’s one of my favorite artists of all time, I’ve looked up to him my whole life and he’s someone I really strive to be like. So, the fact that my talent was getting recognized by him and his camp was like, ‘Oh man, you’re doing something right here.’”
Ahead of the tour, Edwards shared on Instagram it was the very first tour of her life. Her first dedicated run was opening for a country music legend. We asked how she’s stayed grounded through the waves of high water moments.
“I have a really good team and I have no choice but to stay grounded because any time they see any type of ego get out of place they’re very quick to set it back into place. I’m very close with my family. Most of my siblings are still back in Texas,” she said. “I’m really, really close with my family, they help me stay grounded. I am able to talk to them often. You know, Micah’s one of my best friends, I talk to him almost every day about music or just about life on the road and life away from my husband for sometimes a month at a time when I’m out on the road.
“You know, he’s really good about asking me, ‘Are you taking time for yourself? Are you making sure that you’re able to re-center yourself?’ So, yeah, there’s that and the team that I have, they’re so good at what they do,” she said, and noted her manager Samantha Borenstein and her agent Lenore Kinder have been instrumental to her success. “I have this really incredible team that’s not only good at what they do but also they’re just really down to earth people and I think it’s more than just about the money and the fame for them. They’re really trying to build something of substance and something that’s going to last for a really long time.”
Support is important but a music career is only as good as the music. With Crashlanded, Edwards has set a firm foundation. There’s not a skippable track on the record, from the fun prayer to the holy trinity of “Mama, Dolly, Jesus” to the watch-out-now badassery of “Spurs” or “Hold My Horses,” which plays like country music’s updated version of Fiona Apple’s “Fast as You Can.” Edwards kicks things up when required, but her pristine voice shines on quieter tracks too like “How Strong I Am” and “Too Much of a Good Thing.”
One of the best tracks on the album is “Why I’m Calling,” a heart-tugging, heartwarming ode to the people anywhere who make this planet a home. It has a Houston shoutout and Edwards said it’s an important song on the album.
“That song is close to my heart because it’s about my mom,” Edwards said. “It makes me tear up hearing it, you know, and it’s cool because it’s my song and I still don’t get sick of it. Any single time that it comes on randomly I’m like, ‘Oh, this is a really good song and it has a really good meaning to it.’”
The song mentions Houston by name, a place she still calls her hometown. As she prepares to return, she took some time to tell how the city has been pivotal to her career.
“I would say 100 percent my grit. I feel like Houston has given me this strength that is going to give me an edge in the industry, especially when it comes to Nashville. The music industry in general is very tough. I mean, it is very competitive. There’s a lot of competition,” she said. “But, the one thing that keeps me humbled but confident is that, you know, Houston, we’ve been through a lot and I feel like it doesn’t get the cred it deserves.
“We are an incredibly diverse city. I feel like Texas as a whole gets a bad rap because of the politics or whatever but at the end of the day I’ve been through multiple hurricanes,” she continued and namedropped Rita, Ike and Harvey. “Put politics and differences aside, I saw the city come together as a whole, it didn’t matter what your background was, it didn’t matter where you came from, that kept being the consistent thread every single time the city went through a difficult time.
“I feel like growing up and going to high school in Houston, going to college at University of Houston - I’m a Cougar - it’s really cool having that grit. There’s such a unique culture about Houston, its one of the most diverse cities in all of America,” she added. “I feel like it’s much more inclusive than people want to give it credit for and that’s why we have such an amazing artistic community there. And that’s something I’ve been able to bring over to Nashville and it gives me a lot of confidence because obviously it's very competitive in Nashville but I feel like I have an edge because I’m able to kind of bring a different perspective with me, you know?”
Speaking of storms, the world should brace itself for Hurricane Madeline. Before other locales are awash with her live show, she’s set to strike Houston. We asked how she’ll feel returning home to perform.
“It’s going to be very emotional, I will say that,” she said. “Houston and Texas mean so much to me and that fact that I’m getting to come back and play and headline shows, especially after everything that’s been going on these past couple of years, it’s a celebration. At the end of the day I want this to be a real party.”
Madeline Edwards performs Friday, April 14 at the Heights Theater, 339 W. 19th. With Micah Edwards. Doors at 7 p.m. $22 and up.