Lainey Wilson is a country singer and songwriter who rose to prominence after her music was featured on the TV drama Yellowstone. She was named the 2023 CMA Entertainer of the Year and won a 2024 Grammy for Best Country Album.

Latest News: Lainey Wilson Wins Grammy for Best Country Album

At 31, Lainey Wilson, the acclaimed country artist who clinched the CMA Entertainer of the Year title last November, expressed how her 2022 album “Bell Bottom Country” has been a transformative force in her life, culminating in her recent Grammy win. Besting strong contenders like Kelsea Ballerini, Tyler Childers, Brothers Osborne, and Zach Bryan, Wilson took home the coveted Best Country Album trophy on Sunday night.

In her heartfelt acceptance speech, Wilson delved into her upbringing in the rural enclave of Baskin, Louisiana. Reflecting on her journey, she likened herself and her peers to farmers, albeit of stories. “I would consider myself a farmer too, and everybody that I surround myself with I think they’re farmers too, but they’re story farmers,” she shared. “And it’s about getting up every single day and planting (those) seeds and watering them and watching them grow, and sometimes when you find the right farming community you can have a harvest of a lifetime… I think that’s exactly what this is tonight.”

Wilson received another nomination for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for her collaboration with CMA New Artist of the Year, Jelly Roll, on their track “Save Me.”

Who Is Lainey Wilson?

Lainey Wilson stands out as a Grammy-acclaimed country music artist and lyricist celebrated for her tracks such as “Things a Man Oughta Know,” “Watermelon Moonshine,” and “Heart Like a Truck.” Hailing originally from Louisiana, Wilson made the bold move to Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 19, fueled by her determination to carve out a path as a country sensation. Nonetheless, she faced skepticism from many industry insiders who felt her musical style didn’t align with the contemporary genre, leading to years of struggle to gain recognition. It wasn’t until her music found a platform on the hit television series Yellowstone in 2019 that perceptions began to shift, propelling Wilson to widespread acclaim. At the 2023 CMA Awards, she garnered the highest number of nominations among all artists and ultimately clinched victory in five categories, including the prestigious titles of Entertainer of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year.

Quick Facts

FULL NAMELainey Denay Wilson
BORNMay 19, 1992
BIRTHPLACEBaskin, Louisiana
ASTROLOGICAL SIGNTaurus

Where Is Lainey Wilson From?

Lainey Denay Wilson entered the world on May 19, 1992, and grew up in Baskin, Louisiana, a quaint locale inhabited by fewer than 300 individuals. Her father, Brian Wilson, carries on the family legacy as a fifth-generation farmer, while her mother, Michelle Wilson, fulfills the role of educator. Adding to the familial mix is Lainey’s older sister, Janna.

The essence of both music and style was instilled in Lainey from her earliest days, shaped profoundly by her parents. Seated around the kitchen table, her father strummed his guitar, serenading his daughters with melodies while they choreographed impromptu dances.

Brian drew inspiration from icons such as Buck Owens and Glen Campbell, reminiscing of his youth when he mimicked them atop a picnic table, guitar in hand, to the delight of passing motorists. Meanwhile, Lainey found her muse in none other than the incomparable Dolly Parton, a reverence she manifested in her 2021 single, “WWDD,” acronymizing the question, “What Would Dolly Do?”

Michelle, in a similar vein, played a pivotal role in shaping her daughter’s fashion sensibilities. A defining feature of her stage attire today, Lainey received her first pair of bell-bottoms from her mother during her formative years. Recounting the memory of the blue leopard-print pants to Billboard, Lainey reminisced, “At one point, [Michelle] was like, ‘You’ve got to take them off, we’ve got to wash them.’” Her affinity for vintage aesthetics extends beyond fashion, echoing in her appreciation for retro music and narratives.

Engaged in various extracurricular pursuits such as cheerleading and basketball, Lainey’s heart resided primarily in the realm of music. Influenced by pop sensation Britney Spears, also a Louisiana native, she penned her inaugural composition at the tender age of 9 and commenced her guitar journey at 11. Reflecting on her unwavering passion, she shared with Holler in 2021, “It’s honestly been one of those things that from 9 years old, I knew I was going to do. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I knew it was going to be a journey.”

During her middle and high school years, Wilson embraced the limelight by embodying the persona of Hannah Montana, the beloved Disney Channel character portrayed by Miley Cyrus, at various public venues ranging from birthday celebrations to nursing homes. Additionally, she founded the Cadillac Kings, a cover band that defied age restrictions to perform at local bars and clubs.

Upon bidding farewell to high school, the determined 19-year-old embarked on a new chapter, relocating to Nashville, Tennessee, in August 2011, steadfast in her resolve to carve out a niche in the realm of country music.

Early Career Struggles

Despite her hopeful outlook, Wilson’s initial venture into the industry proved challenging. The songstress embraced a modest lifestyle, residing in a Flagstaff camper trailer for a span of three years post-relocation. Positioned conveniently outside a recording studio owned by a family acquaintance, a favor owed to her grandfather, she recounted to Good Morning America in November 2022 the hardships she endured, including nights spent bundled up with three pairs of socks and layers of jackets to combat the winter chill. Additionally, she relied on the generosity of her neighbor for essentials such as water, internet access, and electricity.

Throughout this period, she tirelessly traversed Nashville’s Music Row, distributing demos and CDs in pursuit of that elusive breakthrough. Yet, the industry gatekeepers perceived Wilson as “too country for country,” her distinct twang and profoundly personal songwriting standing in stark contrast to the prevailing trend of pop-infused compositions dominating the genre. Recounting the hurdles she faced, she confided to People, “I had a lot of folks slam the door in my face. There were some hard times, there were some rough days, times when I probably should have packed it up and went home.”

Undeterred, she persisted. In 2014, Wilson boldly unveiled her eponymous debut album. It was a year later when fate intervened in the form of Mandelyn Monchick, who, upon encountering Wilson’s poignant composition “Dreamcatcher,” recognized her “next level” talent and assumed the role of her manager, as detailed by The Washington Post. Building on this momentum, Wilson delivered her sophomore effort, “Tougher,” in 2016, marking her initial ascent on the charts with a modest debut at No. 44 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums list.

By 2018, Wilson had secured a publishing deal and sealed a record contract with Broken Bow Records. Nonetheless, she remained a relative unknown in the echelons of the country music scene. It would require a serendipitous alignment with an emerging television series to catalyze her ascent to prominence.

Lainey Wilson _ Biography, Music & News

Music and Role on Yellowstone

Lainey Wilson appeared on a handful of Yellowstone episodes in Season 5 after several of her songs were featured on the show.

Similar to burgeoning country talents like Zach Bryan, Wilson experienced a significant boost when her music found a spotlight on the acclaimed drama series Yellowstone, headlined by Kevin Costner.

The inaugural Wilson track to grace the Paramount production was “Working Overtime” during Season 2 in 2019. Subsequently, series co-creator Taylor Sheridan showcased Wilson’s tunes “Straight Up Sideways” and “Small Town Girl” in Season 3, along with “Smell Like Smoke”—a bespoke composition crafted by Wilson expressly for Season 5.

Not content with solely lending her musical prowess, Sheridan extended an invitation for Wilson to step into an on-screen role for the show’s fifth installment in 2022. In a four-episode stint, Wilson portrayed Abby, a local songstress entangled in a romantic liaison with ranch hand Ryan, a recurring character portrayed by Ian Bohen. Reflecting on Sheridan’s offer, Wilson shared with Variety, “When Taylor told me, ‘I want to create a character specifically for you—I want you to wear your bell bottoms, sing your own songs, and pretty much be yourself,’ I knew that he was wanting to kind of help me over that wall… to put a face to a name for people.”

However, amidst her enthusiasm, Wilson confronted a moment of reckoning when her father, Brian, fell critically ill, succumbing to an infection and suffering a stroke necessitating nine surgeries, including the removal of his left eye. Wrestling with the dilemma, Wilson contemplated quitting, until a conversation with her father at the hospital galvanized her resolve. Recalling the exchange to People, she recounted, “I said, Daddy, I can’t leave you,'” to which Brian insisted, “‘You better go, and you better not come back until the job is done.’ That is the girl that he raised. So I headed that way and did it.”

Breakthrough and Country Stardom

Taking the stage at the Wonderfront Music & Arts Festival in November 2022, Lainey Wilson basked in the glow of newfound recognition, courtesy of the resounding success of Yellowstone. Finally capturing Nashville’s attention, Wilson seized the moment, unleashing her 2019 EP “Redneck Hollywood,” a poignant collection featuring the autobiographical anthem “LA,” paying homage to her Louisiana roots. Embarking on tour alongside emerging country luminary Morgan Wallen, Wilson’s star continued its ascent.

In a monumental milestone, February 2020 witnessed the realization of one of Wilson’s most cherished dreams as she graced the illustrious stage of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. The summer that ensued saw the release of her single “Things a Man Oughta Know” to radio waves, heralding her breakout moment. By September 2021, the track soared to the summit of the Country Airplay chart, securing Wilson her inaugural No. 1 hit. Billboard, in recognition of her meteoric rise, crowned her as the foremost new country artist of the year. Despite this triumph, her 2021 studio album, “Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’,” peaked at a modest No. 40 on the charts.

Undoubtedly, Wilson’s trajectory soared to new heights. Marking a pivotal moment in her career, her 2022 album, “Bell Bottom Country,” emerged as a powerhouse, boasting a plethora of chart-topping singles. Among these, “Watermelon Moonshine” ascended to the coveted No. 1 position on the Country Airplay chart, while “Heart Like a Truck” claimed a formidable spot at No. 2.

The accolades poured in, with Wilson earning nominations in six categories at the prestigious Country Music Association Awards. Her triumph was undeniable as she clinched the titles of New Artist of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year. Expressing her gratitude during her acceptance speech for the latter honor, she vowed, “I promise you I know I’m new to a lot of folks, but I won’t let you all down. I promise you.”

CMA Entertainer of the Year and Grammy Win

True to her previous commitment, Wilson embarked on collaborative endeavors in 2023, contributing to a pair of chart-topping duets: “Wait in the Truck” alongside Hardy and “Save Me” featuring Jelly Roll. Concurrently, she solidified her status as one of the industry’s most industrious performers, revealing in an October radio interview that she had meticulously arranged over 160 live performances throughout the year. Reflecting on the whirlwind of activity, she remarked, “It’s been hard, it’s been busy, but these are the moments that I’ve dreamed about and prayed for.”

Unsurprisingly, accolades continued to cascade her way. Wilson secured victories in four prestigious categories at the Academy of Country Music Awards in May 2023. Notable among these was the coveted Album of the Year award for “Bell Bottom Country,” presented to her by none other than her idol, Dolly Parton. Additionally, Wilson was honored with the title of Female Artist of the Year, further solidifying her stature as a force to be reckoned with in the country music landscape.

Lainey Wilson graced the stage at the 2023 CMA Awards ceremony in November, emerging triumphant with a staggering haul of five trophies, including the prestigious Entertainer of the Year accolade.

Her dominance continued to reverberate in September, as Wilson emerged as the year’s most-nominated artist for the CMA Awards, garnering an impressive nine nods. At the ensuing November awards gala, she not only retained her title as Best Female Vocalist but also etched her name in history as the first female performer since Taylor Swift in 2011 to claim the coveted Entertainer of the Year award. In total, Wilson clinched an astounding five awards. The celebratory momentum persisted as she received two Grammy nominations only days later, recognized in the categories of Best Country Album for “Bell Bottom Country” and Best Country Duo-Group Performance for her collaboration on “Save Me.”

November saw Wilson’s talents showcased during “Christmas at Graceland,” an NBC music special emanating from the iconic Memphis estate once inhabited by Elvis Presley.

As anticipated, “Bell Bottom Country” clinched the Grammy Award for Best Country Album in February 2024, solidifying Wilson’s status as a bona fide industry powerhouse. The trajectory of her success shows no signs of abating, with the imminent launch of her “Country’s Cool Again Tour,” spanning over 35 shows commencing in May. Additionally, she’s slated to make multiple guest appearances as a special performer on Morgan Wallen’s “One Night at a Time Tour.”

Boyfriend

Lainey Wilson and Devlin Hodges made a joint appearance at the 2023 ACM Awards held in Frisco, Texas. The duo, romantically involved for over two years, showcased their relationship on the public stage.

Wilson, unmarried and typically private about her personal life, made headlines in May 2023 when she attended the ACM Awards alongside former NFL player Devlin “Duck” Hodges. Confirmation of their relationship came from the singer’s representatives to People magazine. Subsequently, during an appearance on The Bobby Bones Show a month later, Wilson disclosed that she and Hodges had been an item for more than two years.

Their paths crossed in 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee, facilitated by mutual acquaintances. Wilson explained to People that she had kept their relationship under wraps initially, wanting to ascertain Hodges’ sincerity. Hodges, aged 27, retired from football in 2022 and has since transitioned into the realm of real estate. Reflecting on their dynamic, Wilson praised Hodges for his unwavering support and understanding, emphasizing his empathy for the pursuit of dreams. She remarked, “He knows what it’s like chasing a dream because he’s done that for himself. But I’ll tell you, he is good as gold. Supports me, would never come in between anything that I’m trying to do. He’s like, ‘Go get it, girl.’”

Weight Loss

Wilson underwent significant transformations in her exercise and dietary habits in recent years. In 2020, she embarked on what she termed a “Year of Health,” making substantial alterations to her eating habits by eliminating dairy, sugar, and processed foods from her diet. Additionally, she enlisted the guidance of a personal trainer. Coupled with a dedication to activities such as running and hiking, these lifestyle adjustments reportedly led to a weight loss of up to 70 pounds.

The effects of Wilson’s journey to wellness captured widespread attention when she went viral in December 2022 for a TikTok video showcasing her performance in leopard-print pants that accentuated her newfound figure. Wilson, with characteristic humor, acknowledged the viral sensation in an Instagram video, quipping, “Whatever brings the people in, whatever brings the people in! But I’m just letting y’all know, go check out my record, Bell Bottom Country. Happy to have ya either way. However you found me, I’m happy.”

Quotes

I remember this one guy telling me I was no good and how he hoped I wouldn’t cry when I left the station. I leaned over his desk and I said, “With all the years I’ve been in Nashville, you saying that to me ain’t s––.” This is probably a psycho trait of mine, but that just made me want [success] that much more.

I just got to a certain point where I’d been in Nashville for so long [and] my give-a-damn was a little busted. I felt like, “Why not just say what I want to say how I want to say it?” That’s one of the thoughts that really set me free.

When I look back, honestly, if I had known it was going to be this hard [to make it in the industry], I don’t know if I would go and do it again. And that sounds crazy, but it has been hard. But this is my only option. There was no Plan B for me.

In my opinion, it’s like the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and Dolly Parton. That’s how I view it.

I want these kids to know that nothing happens overnight—at least not the good things. I want them to know that if you want something, you put in that time and energy and effort. And when somebody tells you no, you somehow turn it into a yes.