As a young girl, Gwen Sebastian joined her parents on stage performing with a local band. The experience left her dreaming of the day when she’d be writing and singing in Nashville.
Until that day, she focused on her education and enrolled in nursing school. One semester in, the Hebron, North Dakota native dropped out and relocated to Music City.
What was the deciding factor when you quit nursing school to move to Nashville?
“My mom and I went to a music seminar in Nashville and that sealed the deal for me to want to be a part of the songwriting community.”
Sebastian first worked as property manager at a Nashville real estate company. The drive to be on stage was great enough for her to leave that job to focus on performing at songwriter’s nights in town. From the Blue Bird Café and the Wildhorse Saloon nights, she began touring with her own band, opening for major acts including Taylor Swift, Sugarland, and Dierks Bentley.
In 2009, Sebastian signed a recording deal with Lofton Creek Records. Her first single, “Hard Rain,” was released to critical praise.
How did you choose your first radio single “Hard Rain?”
“It was a song written by an artist named Jason Jones who I was singing back-up for. I loved the message behind the song.”
“Two broken hearts, one lesson learned
Don’t leave your love out on some highway
If you treat somebody like that
Well they won’t be waitin’ when you get back
Cause time’s got a way of changing everything you know
And a hard rain washes out a gravel road”
Sebastian charted with “Met Him In A Motel Room.” The song isn’t what you expect it to be about going by its title. The track tells the story of a woman who plans to commit suicide on her way to redemption.
With a bottle full of sleeping pills and a long, long list of sins,
She’d already planned on checking out before she checked in.
She was gonna leave a goodbye note, just needed paper and a pen.
With that vacancy light blinking red.
She found that bible in the drawer beside the bed
After a decade of touring, Sebastian was a contestant on the second season of NBC’s The Voice in 2012. For her blind audition, she sang Sugarland’s “Stay.”
What prompted you to compete on the second season of The Voice?
“I wanted to share my music with as many people as possible and I liked the concept of the show, of the coaches not knowing what you looked like, etc.”
Three chairs turned, Blake Shelton, Adam Lambert, and CeeLo Green. She told Lambert that while she listens to his songs constantly, her heart was country.
Unfortunately, she was eliminated during the Team Shelton battle rounds, just before the live shows. After the show ended, she began touring with Shelton and Miranda Lambert. Gwen Sebastian was featured on Shelton’s song “My Eyes,” and it became her first number one.
Currently on tour promoting Lambert’s The Weight of These Wings album (for which she has three co-writes – “Runnin’ Just In Case,” “Dear Old Sun,” and “I’ve Got Wheels”), Sebastian released “Cadillac” this month. Sebastian, Lambert, and April Lewis wrote about the California dream with a Dallas shout-out (both Lambert and Lewis are from Texas). A Cadillac pulling a “tear-drop trailer” and a “Bakersfield boy with a guitar callous.” Wanderlust spirits writing an itchy foot, pedal-to-the-metal tune, with a lot more than an automobile on their minds. The trio was on a girl’s trip to California to see Anderson East, Lambert’s boyfriend, open for Chris Stapleton when they met on a hotel porch and decided to write.
“Cadillac” is the first single from Sebastian’s fifth studio album, Once Upon A Time In The West, scheduled for a November release. The song is the first time a Lambert co-write has been sung by another artist.
How does the song represent the album as a whole?
“The album is more of a movie soundtrack with a singer/songwriter vibe and to me, “Cadillac” has all those elements.”
You co-wrote with Miranda for her The Weight Of These Wings album and for your upcoming one. Do you plan co-writing sessions or do they happen more impromptu? Do you think, being friends, makes it easier for the writing process to be more real?
“She’s one of the best songsmith’s I’ve ever had the privilege to write with. Both lyrically and melodically. Being friends makes it more comfortable to sit down and try to write a song, but it doesn’t necessarily mean something with come out. That totally depends on the day. We were lucky all those days! LOL”
What do you do for inspiration when you sit down to write a song and it seems that nothing wants to come out?
“Move on to another subject, or to another glass of wine. HA HA!”
When “Cadillac” was released (debuting at #1 on the iTunes chart singer/songwriter chart), Lambert posted on Instagram,
“IMPORTANT NEWS!!!! My great friend and band mate Gwen Sebastian has a new single out today. Her and I, and my soul sister April Lewis wrote it together on a girls trip to the west coast. It was the first song April had ever written. She loves music more than anyone I know. And Gwen has dedicated her life to music as have I. So needless to say this is a special day for a special song to come out into the world. Glad to share it with people I love. Y’all support some female singer /songwriters today and buy this. Thanks for the love?…”
The 43-year-old artist co-wrote all of the songs on the album to be released in November. Produced by her husband-drummer-tour manager, Louis Newman, her album co-writers also include Ashley Monroe, Randall Clay, and Terri Jo Box.
What are the plans for the future?
“I’d love to do my own tour again with support of my new album that comes out late fall. Both the U.S. and Europe would be amazing!”
If you could tour with all women, which artists or bands of any genre would you like to go on the road with you?
“The Pistol Annies, Ashley McBryde, Susan Tedeschi, & Brandi Carlile.”
Sebastian will be performing at the Grand Ole Opry on September 17. For more tour information and to learn about her partnership with World Vision, a Christian organization that provides necessities to people in every part of the world, regardless of religious affiliation, click here.
Wondering what she does in her free time …
When you are not touring, what do you like to do for fun?
If you were granted one wish, what would you ask for?
“To have no regrets.”
Sounds like a country song in the making.