By Emma Kennedy
Kendal Conrad, the rising American country music singer-songwriter originally from Pottstown, will release her new single on February 26th in conjunction with a series of live shows including an appearance at Gypsy Blu in Ambler on Friday night, March 5. It will be Conrad’s second appearance at the vintage pub on East Butler Ave. She is expected to perform the new single along with her other hit songs and selections.
One of the busiest musical artists in the business, Conrad performed hundreds of shows annually both in Nashville and the Delaware Valley before the global pandemic and has persevered through the last year through live streaming on social media platforms.
Now with live performance opportunities returning, Conrad is back at work, guitar in hand, engaging audiences at venues large and small.
The graduate of Ursinus College has been performing since her pre-teen years, achieving a breakthrough by winning one of the largest country music talent competitions, The Country Showdown in 2015. She has received over 26 million views on Tik Tok and over one million plays on Soundcloud. She has performed with some of America’s hottest country artists, including Keith Urban (their duet was featured on his website) and Blake Shelton at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open golf tournament.
She has delighted capacity crowd audiences multiple times at The Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s National Dog Show and twice entertained at The National Dog Show Gala when the event was held at the Valley Forge Casino. She is an in-demand National Anthem singer, delivering the Star-Spangled Banner for teams such as the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets.
Conrad’s singles can be found on Spotify and two of her hits, “Leader of the Pack” and “Come to Your Senses” have gained hundreds of thousands of likes. Conrad’s YouTube channel has 1.8K subscribers and 49 videos of her journey (https://www.youtube.com/kendalconrad).
Her first single of 2020, titled “Bodyguard,” is about being disappointed in someone you love. This heart- wrenching country pop number has over 60,000 listens on Spotify.
Like many in the entertainment industry, her career path was interrupted when the COVID-19 outbreak hit the United States and the bars and restaurants were forced to cancel her appearances or shift to a virtual format.
“I’m a full-time, gigging musician. I don’t have any other job to supplement my income—I’ve done this my whole life,” Conrad said.
The forced quarantine was a blessing in disguise, though, allowing Conrad to find new ways to interact with her audience such as Facebook live and promoting brands on social media. She is hoping to be able to travel and perform in a normal setting this summer.
Check out her new single coming out February 26 on all streaming platforms.
Here’s our conversation with Kendal Conrad:
When did you first get into music?
I don’t really know the answer to this question. I always liked to sing when I was little. I would carry around my boombox and listen to the classic Celine Dion and Whitney Houston songs. I was in all of the elementary school choirs and church choirs. Once I taught herself to play guitar in high school, I started doing solo acoustic entertainment and it’s become my career.
How do singers and musicians get better besides practicing?
I firmly believe that the only way anyone can truly get better is to play live shows. Break a string in front of a crowd of people. Forget the words. Knock over and break your glass of water by accident and stand there and smile in embarrassment. Play the wrong chord. Put the capo on the wrong fret and have to play the whole song in that key. Book 3-hour gigs, see if your voice can handle it. So, that’s what I’ve done.
Are you spending time in Nashville?
No, not at all. I haven’t really been able to travel anywhere since everything shut down last year.
Is your relationship with the National Dog show an example of one of the ways that you’ve grown your career?
The National Dog Show was a huge deal for me. I was shocked and honored to be invited to perform. I got to see the whole event and it was so classy and so well run. Every time they have called to ask me to perform, I am always so honored.
How does your performance at Gypsy Blu fit in to your schedule this winter?
I used to play 6 days a week, now it’s 4 days a week. Really looking forward to March 5 at Gypsy Blu. On Thursdays to Sundays, I am usually booked performing at wineries and restaurants around the Delaware Valley.
What types of performances were you doing pre-pandemic?
Sometimes I got lucky and was performing at arenas. I would bring instrumental tracks for my original music and my six-string banjo. The smaller venues are more acoustic. They are fun and interactive in a more chilled environment versus heart-pumping type shows in arenas.
What has been your daily routine since COVID-19 – how have you kept your audience involved and how have you persevered?
Virtual shows have really helped keep the engagement up. Posting on my Facebook page and going live has allowed me to connect with my followers. I’ve been performing at restaurants to support local businesses, which I love. I’ve learned that promoting certain businesses and products that are struggling right now helps those businesses and provides me with an engagement platform for my audiences both in person and online.
Can you tell us how the song ““Bodyguard” came about and a little about the impact it has had.
I came up with the idea for “Bodyguard” when I started thinking about the actual job of a bodyguard. A bodyguard swears to protect you and keep you safe at all costs. They literally guard your body. I thought it would be interesting to take this concept and look at it through the lens of a romantic relationship. A guy swears to be my bodyguard and protect my heart, but he winds up breaking it instead. The song has almost 15,000 streams on Spotify in under three weeks, so it’s been really cool to see it take off.
I saw that you performed with Keith Urban. What was that experience like?
It was an out of body experience, and it went really fast. Before I knew it, it was over! When I was onstage with Keith, I was trying to take everything in, and I kept thinking “I will remember this moment for the rest of my life.”
If you had to pick out a particular highlight from your career so far, what would you pick?
Singing for 18,000 people at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open was pretty crazy. It was a big golf tournament in Endicott (upstate New York). I was opening for Blake Shelton, and it was an added bonus that I got to see his show. It was a night I’ll never forget.
What are your future plans for right now?
To reach as many people as possible with my music! I’m also trying to get noticed by a label in Nashville.
Where do you see your career going in the next five years?
I hope to be the opening act on an arena tour or even headline smaller shows in clubs or theatres. I also hope to continue building a relationship with brands on my social media as well as engaging my fans and followers with new music and content. I can’t wait to see where the music takes me next!
Some content courtesy of The Valley Nugget, Belles and Gals, and upfrontNY.