If there is one thing Britnee Kellogg wants, it is for her three kids to see their mama following her dreams! The Pacific Northwest native and two time American Idol alum, has always have country music in her blood. Growing up idolizing Johnny and June Cash, Britnee knew from a young age she wanted to be a singer. A series of struggles, heartaches and triumphs fill Kellogg's lyrics with a thick layer of authenticity. Staying true to herself her story and a big voice to match, Britnee Kellogg is quickly becoming a force in Nashville!
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I know you've been singing since you were really small, like three years old. So what was your go-to song when you were three years old?
Oh gosh, probably Johnny Cash. My grandparents listened to a lot of Johnny Cash. Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, you know, LoreHa Lynn, like all the, all the greats and I loved Johnny Cash. So my mom or my grandparents took me to my first show when I was six. And I just like, I've always just been a little country girl, which is so funny because I literally live in the Pacific Northwest where they're like, everyone's like, how are you from the Pacific Northwest but you like sound like you're from the South? I genuinely just, I love country music so much and I've been singing it since I was born. I love it.
Have your influences stayed consistent throughout your your career? You know what I mean?
I definitely think they've shifted over the years, Johnny and June was, I really like attribute them to the reason I love country music. And when I went to that show, I looked at my grandma, as soon as we were leaving. I remember it like it was yesterday. And I said, I'm not going to school tomorrow. I'm going to be a country singer. So I don't need math to be a country singer like that. This is what I want to do when I grow up. And I started taking lessons shortly after a couple of years later I found Reba McEntre and fell head over heels in love with her. And so she was a huge influence for me for so many years. And I would say currently Miranda Lambert is like, I feel like we're besties. I just feel like we would get along so well, we have such similar, styles and loves. And our songwriting styles are very similar. We've been through some similar stuff, so she's a huge influence for me. So I think it's shifted like with the times, but I go back to those roots cause obviously Miranda is very country. I definitely always go back to like the country sound. The more traditional, you know what I mean? Whenever I'm in the studio and a steel guitar is there. Oh my, literally just like pulls at my heart strings. It's the best, the best sound ever.
For people who may not know your music yet, what song should they listen to first?
Oh gosh. I mean, I think obviously my most popular one, “Back of my Mind”. But I also like “Ten Years Ago” is, is probably the song that is the most special to me. It was the hardest one to write and it, for a very long time was the hardest one to sing in the best way. Not in a bad way. But in a very happy way, I was a single mom for a long time of two little boys. And when I met my husband, like I just kept writing man-hater songs. And I met my husband and like still was writing songs about my exes . At one point he asked me, “when are you going to write songs that are like angry songs?” I wanted the song to be right. I didn't want the song to be written and then have to be rewritten, you know, like I wanted it to be right, right. I literally said like, are you guys ready for a good cry because I'm probably going to bawl my eyes out when we write this song and sure enough. It was very difficult to write. And it was super emoTonal.
Probably five minutes into the write, I was sobbing and just could not stop. And then like the first probably thirty times I sang the song and I got to the specific part where it talks about my husband was married as well and his wife was unfaithful to him. And so I sing a part about like you know, were you dreaming about a girl that loves you back because he was so faithful to his wife and she wasn't. And like, that is so hard for me to know that someone that I love so much ever went through that much pain. So probably “Ten Years Ago”
How does being a mom influence what you put into your music?
Yeah. I mean, you turn on the radio and there's songs about heartbreak and drinking and like all of this stuff. And I think there's definitely a place for that. There's a market for that. I’m obviously like I'm an older, I'm a mama. I have three little ones. And for me, I just feel like there's so many out there that don't get to hear that side of music. I try to just write songs, I will not write a lyric if it's not true. I want someone to hear the song and be “Oh, that's about me.”
I think doing American Idol was a big thing for me. I've been told by so many people specifically my ex that like, you can't pursue your dreams and be a mom at the same time. So you need to choose. Jennifer Lopez was like, no, you don't have to choose, this is your job. This is your dream. This is what you want to do. Your kids are beHer for it. This light bulb that was like, Oh my gosh, you're right. So my kids now get to see their mom pursue their dreams and see the hard stuff and see the highs and the lows. I love my kids and they get to see a happy mom following her dreams!
Speaking of American Idol, what was your biggest takeaway. And what advice would you give to others?
I tried out so many Times the initial audition is a cattle call. Basically, you would be in a huge stadium and you would go and they would line you up and you would literally have five to ten seconds. And they would be like, yes or no. I tried out four times, three times and never got through that portion. And then they came to Portland. I was a single mom at the time and I was like, look, they're in my hometown. I'm just going to do it. Like, I can't not do it if they're here. So I did it and I made it, but it was very political and they liked my story.
I never really had to make up any drama because what I had been through was very dramaTc enough. But I, it was very clear that they were very interested in my story. My first season was the best experience of my enTre life. I met so many amazing friends. I got like a music note tattoo on my ring finger with my friend, Devin, who is actually now on The Voice. There were so many positives, but then I got cut.
It was really hard because I was a full-time working mom, single mom. I didn't want to go back to my job. That was eight to five. I wanted to be on American Idol. That was really challenging, but I got some great, publicity from it and gained some fans from it. So I did it again. And that year I literally wanted to not be there anymore. It was the Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey debacle. t was so dramatic and, and political.
But I'm grateful for the, you know, exposure and all the fans I gained, I'm so grateful for that. But people oSen ask me, like, would you ever do a reality show? And I'm like, I'm good. I'm good. I'm doing fine. Without the drama. I'm good.
It feels like to me even post American Idol, you were still came out on the other side as Britnee. That not winning allows you to put out the music you want!
My friend Candice Glover, she won my second time on there. I think it was like a year after she won. She would not put her album out because she hated the songs that they were making her sing. And she was like, I want to sing the songs I've written. They didn't like the song she'd written. She was basically just on hold a year. For me, if I get to put out the music that I love and that my fans love. And I'm so grateful that I am independent and I get to do whatever.
Chat with me about your new hit “Back of My Mind”. It really is one hell of a heart jerker!
Yeah. I will say that when I wrote this song, I knew it was special. The second I wrote it. As I said earlier, lI'm really honest with my song writing. I'm always very like real. I don't really hide my feelings. I just, with this song specifically, I had just found out that my ex was currently texting, his ex-girlfriend and he's now married. So there was like some drama there and instant triggers everywhere. I know what she's feeling. I know what she's going through. I wonder if she knows, like, how could she not. you know, like all of these things. I was talking to Autumn a songwriter friend about the drama. She's incredible. And I just said, like, I really feel for her in the back of my mind.
She was like, that’s what we need to write about. It was so easy to write, every word just flowed out. And we wrote it in September of 2019. Thanks to COIVD the song was just kind of sitting there and on Valentine's day well. But starting in December, my son who's 11 asked me for a Tik Tok. I told him, if you get one, I get one to watch you!
I was like, okay, let's see how this works. So I started posting between one to three videos every single day and from December and to Valentine's day. On Valentines Day, I wanted to post three songs like from different perspectives, one of those was “Back of My Mind” it was the perfect and Valentine’s song.
It was snowing where we are, we don't get snow. So we were sledding with my kids and I opened my Tik Tok and at the time I had 700 followers. A few hours after I posted,I think I had like 50,000 in a half an hour to an hour or something insane. I looked at my husband and I was like, I know it's Valentine's day, but I'm gone, I need to get this recorded. By the next day I had a million views and I had no idea that was going to happen!
I've gotten emotional so many times about this because I, as a songwriter, you write songs. I write songs for me. I read it as my therapy. I hope that other women or, or whoever are going to relate to my music. And with this song specifically, I had no idea that so many people felt the same way. Like the comments and the messages, and just like the overwhelming support on the song. It's just been in sane. It's been wild, Im pretty grateful!