Updated: Jul 22, 2019
On Lindsay Bowman’s first trip to Nashville, a band that was playing at a Broadway honky-tonk invited her to come up on stage and join them for a song. The 25-year-old sang Walking After Midnight by Patsy Cline. By the end of the night, Lindsay knew she had to move to Nashville. “It was just the feeling of camaraderie, everybody’s out here doing the same thing, trying to make it.” Within five months, Lindsay quit her job in Danville, Virginia and moved to Music City, with the blessing of her parents.
Nowadays, Lindsay has a regular gig on Tuesdays at AJ’s Good Time Bar (owned by country music superstar Alan Jackson). She will also be the opening act for Uncle Kracker (“Smile” and “Follow Me”) at an upcoming show in Missouri (date TBA). The first release of her original music as a solo artist will hit streaming sites later this year.
Lindsay’s love of music started when she was a toddler. “As soon as I could put sentences together, I was singing.” Lindsay recalls that her mother was always singing around the house, and she grew up listening to country and gospel music. She made her solo debut at age four at her grandmother’s church. In the 90’s, artists like Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, and Britney Spears became her pop icons. “I stood in front of my mirror as a kid with a hairbrush microphone, watching Britney Spears videos.”
Lindsay says she was always passionate about singing, but never thought about making it a career. “I did what I thought I was supposed to do -- went to college, got a job, and played in a band back home.” When she came to the realization that she wasn’t cut out for a 9 to 5 job, her mom encouraged her to check out Nashville. “You don’t know until you get out there and try it.” That fateful trip was in 2011.
Lindsay moved to Nashville with not much more than a suitcase, and only knew one person in town (a friend of a friend from her home town). She got a job at a Harley Davidson dealership to pay the bills. A booking agent took her to a local venue to see a show and give her some guidance. He told her, “This is what you have to do. You have to come to other concerts, go see showcases, and just rub elbows. That’s the best way to meet people.”
Lindsay took that advice to heart, and spent months going up and down Broadway introducing herself to bands and sitting in whenever possible. One night after she had been in town for three months, Lindsay got a call from a guitar player asking her to join them on stage to help their lead singer, who had lost her voice. She clicked with the band, and eventually formed a duo with the singer, Alecia Arnall (who Lindsay describes as “a reincarnation of Janis Joplin”).
As Smoke ‘n Guns, they performed a high-energy show playing pop and rock songs “from the 80’s, 90’s, and today.” They toured from Las Vegas to Toronto, Canada, and played five to six nights a week at Nashville bars when they weren’t on the road. “Our music took off and I had to quit my day job because we were traveling so much, which was a good problem to have.”
The duo split last fall after Lindsay decided to focus on country music. “That’s really where my heart is, that’s my passion, that’s what I feel I do best.” Lindsay says that vocally, she was influenced by Shania Twain, Lee Ann Rhimes, Reba McEntire, Wynona Judd, and Martina McBride.
In the video below, Lindsay performs Why Haven't I Heard From You by Reba McEntire at AJ's Good Time Bar in Nashville.
Last December, she started writing songs for an EP of her original music. The first two songs have been recorded and are in the process of being mixed by producer Kent Wells (whose credits include working with Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, and Reba McEntire). “I told my producer that I want to stay true to the 90’s sound. I love new country, but I don’t want to be too pop.”
The first two singles are based on a recent breakup. “As a songwriter, you write about things that are happening in your life and what you hope others can relate to.” You Don’t Get to Know was co-written with LA transplant Liz Anne Hill in less than two hours. Lindsay got the idea for the sassy song when her ex reached out after they broke up and wanted to know what was going on in her life. The second song is a ballad, “which is the other side of the coin, it’s like I wish things could be like they were.” Love Me Like You Used To was co-written with Pete Sallis (who has cuts with the country duo Maddie and Tae.)
When her original music is released later this year, Lindsay hopes her songs get some traction on streaming outlets and catch the attention of Sirius XM and syndicated radio host Bobby Bones. The end goal is to get a record deal. “That’s the dream. And to get invited to sing at the Grand Ole Opry is another dream. Why not dream big? I see people all the time that are accomplishing those goals, so Why Not Me (to quote the Judds)?”
In the meantime, Lindsay is grateful to have a supportive boss at her day job who allows her the flexibility to follow her passion. She limits herself to one or two singing gigs each week – a lesson she learned the hard way when she developed a polyp on her vocal chords from the stress of singing non-stop. Lindsay explains that when she first moved to Nashville, “I just wanted to sing, so I took all the shifts that were offered.” For two years, she often played back to back shifts, then went to her day job after getting only four or five hours of sleep. “I pushed so much… it’s not worth ruining your voice. That’s my tool, and I can’t afford to lose that.”
Lindsay says her friends and family back home often ask how long she plans to stay in Nashville. “I don’t want to set a time limit. I know that I’m where I’m supposed to be right now, and I finally feel like my goals are in arms' reach. I’m working harder now than ever before, because I know how bad I want it.”
You can hear Lindsay sing at AJ’s Good Times Bar (421 Broadway) on most Tuesdays, beginning at 7 PM. “I really cut my teeth on Broadway, and I love still having the opportunity to perform downtown.”
For more information, go to www.lindsaybowman.com
FUN FACTS AND TRIVIA
Lindsay was a contestant on Wheel of Fortune in 2012 and won the whole show, including a trip to Hawaii.
Lindsay is nominated for “Female Rising Star Vocalist of the Year” and “Female Rising Star of the Year” in the Modern Country category of the Josie Music Awards (the largest independent artist award show), to be held at Dollywood in September
Concert: Toss up between Wynonna Judd and Kenny Chesney. She saw Kenny at Bridgestone Arena on her birthday, which also happens to be his!
Movie: Toss up between Home Alone and Labyrinth (huge David Bowie fan)
TV Show: Hawaii 5-0
Songs to cover: Broken Wing by Martina McBride and Fancy by Reba McEntire
Written by Laurel Moore for Live Laugh Love Nashville