“Lay it all out, and sing it from the heart, way down deep,” says Kelsey Waldon. “If you do it that way, you don’t need gimmicks.” Backed by pedal steel and Telecaster, this talented, independent-minded young singer makes music that recalls classic country troubadours like Loretta Lynn, George Jones and Merle Haggard, while speaking in an eloquent and unsentimental voice to present-day circumstances.
Waldon grew up in the tiny community of Monkeys Eyebrow in rural western Kentucky. She began playing piano as a child with the beloved neighbor she called Nanny, who was the accompanist at her church. In her family and community, Waldon notes, playing music was “something you did to get through life.” Taking up the guitar helped her navigate adolescence, and at age 19 going to Nashville seemed as natural a next step as “going to the grocery store when you need food.”
A decade later, Waldon’s distinctive approach to country music tradition has earned her a place on the Grand Ole Opry, and accolades from the national press including National Public Radio, who declared that “her delightfully direct language and delivery enhance vivid musical settings that demonstrate her vast understanding of the traditions she mines.”
The presentation of Kelsey Waldon at the 2017 National Folk Festival is made possible by the generous support of The Carroll Companies.