Growing up, Madison Kozak‘s father was like her agent, so it’s only fitting that the singer/songwriter’s debut single would be a song written for him.
One of her many childhood memories with her father was packing up his cherry red Eldorado Cadillac Convertible (with her logo printed on the ragtop, as any proud father would have it) and heading across Ontario to play a gig. Whether that gig was at a church, festival, or nursing home, Kozak and her dad were just excited to play country music.
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In hard times like these, #MadisonKozak is using her platform to lift people’s spirits up by playing original songs all around her house on her Instagram page. Click the link in our bio to learn more + her heartfelt tribute to her dad just in time for #FathersDay this Sunday 👨👧
Although Kozak is a recent graduate of Belmont University, she is joining a different kind of class this year: CMT’s Next Women of Country Class of 2020. In addition to the CMT honor, Kozak was signed to songwriter Nicolle Galyon‘s label Songs & Daughters as a flagship artist and has already made her Grand Ole Opry debut, a moment that came full circle for her and her father. With all of these major accolades in such a short amount of time, Kozak is paving her way to become Country music’s next it girl.
Just in time for Father’s Day, Kozak reflects on a piece of her father’s advice that is now coming to fruition and tells us how her life has changed since the release of “First Last Name.” She also opens up about her Household World Tour, where she sings a song every week in a different room of her house for her thousands of Instagram followers.
Celeb Secrets Country: Tell us about writing your single “First Last Name” and what was the inspiration behind the song?
Madison Kozak: “‘First Last Name’ was written as a Father’s Day gift years ago. I was a student at Belmont University here in Nashville, studying Music Business, and I was living 800-miles away from my family and wanting to send my dad something for Father’s Day. As a college student on a budget I was like, it may be expensive to send something, but I feel like I can get all of the feelings and emotions out in a song. So I sat down with a couple of my favorite co-writers in town, James Slater and Claire Douglas, and just started thinking about all of these memories I had from my childhood and they way my dad raised me, the man that I know him to be, how he made music a part of my childhood, and how much of a hardworking dad and family man he was, and it turned into this 3 1/2 minute like, movie reel. I didn’t have the music done at the beginning so I just sent it to him in poem form. We finally put music to it and I knew that it was really personal and honest to me as an artist and as a daughter, but I never knew that it would be the song that would kickstart my career; landing me my first publishing deal and then record deal, and get to be my first label release. It was a really full circle experience especially with my dad being the person who taught me everything I know about country music. And then my introduction to the genre as an artist was a song I wrote for him!”
CSC: What was it like writing the song with Claire [Douglas] and James [Slater]?
MK: “I think we each came at it with a really cool handful of stories about our own dads. I have a history of music with mine and my friend Claire, her dad is Hall of Fame songwriter Tom Douglas, so she has music rooted stories in her relationship with her father as well. James’ was similar. It was the perfect storm of 3 people in a room sharing their stories. I think that’s what made it really easy for us to come together. It was effortless, honestly. I’ve written a lot of songs since then and there was definitely some sort of spark in that room that day.”
CSC: Since the release of the song, how much has your life and career changed?
MK: “My life has totally changed, I moved to Nashville 9 years ago now. I finished high school and college here and all of that time I was just working towards finding a team that believed in what I had to say. This song struck a cord with my team and really struck a cord with an amazing songwriter and now record label head, Nicolle Galyon, who is a songwriting hero of mine. I remember the night when I played it for her at a showcase; I saw her in the crowd and she came up to me, then all of a sudden she was starting her own record label and wanted me to be her flagship artist of it, kind of because of this song. It did change my life, all of the sudden I was getting to play on stages that I’ve always dreamt of, like the Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman. Those have been on my bucket list since I was 8 years old learning Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton songs. It has been a really, really momentous year having all of that come together from a song that means so much to me.”
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10.26.19. my Opry debut with my First Last Name 💛 i was a little kid in pink cowboy boots the first time dad and i went to see the Opry. we sat about 10 rows back and there were stars in my eyes as i sang along to Loretta Lynn sing ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’, a song she wrote about her first last name. talk about a full circle. 📸: Chris Hollo
CSC: What was going through your mind when you made your Opry debut? What was that experience like?
MK: “It was a really emotional day for me because so many of my heroes are classic country artists who basically built that Opry stage and everything I respect about country points back to that circle. So to be able to step inside of it and have my moment, it was filled with goosebumps and happy tears and as I was singing I was playing in my head all of the steps that it took to get there.”
CSC: As one of CMT’s Next Women of Country Class of 2020, you were supposed to be playing some shows with Tanya Tucker on her Next Women of Country: Bring Me My Flowers Now Tour. Due to COVID it has been postponed. What have you been doing in the meantime to be able to still perform for fans?
MK: “Because I miss being out on the road so much, I came up with this tour concept called the Household World Tour. Every week I sing a different song in a different room of my house and post that. I get to interact with the fans that I’ve made over the last 8 to 10 months of being out on the road and make some new ones too. I’m so thankful to have this social media part where we can all still find connection and spread love and music. It’s a fun creative way for me to share my favorite covers or a new song I wrote, hear from people, and still have a sense of normalcy. We’re still playing music and still getting to share it, and we will get back to it soon.”
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wrote this song with @gordiesampson & @hillaryleelindsey about my sweet Dutch Grandpa (i call him Opa) and the hardest parts about watching the people you love grow old. it’s my favorite thing hearing about how you guys connect with these songs 🤍 got a lot of requests for this one after getting to play it out on tour earlier this year, so here it is. thanks for listening, happy early Father’s Day Opa!
CSC: In honor of Father’s Day this weekend, what’s the best piece of advice you have received from your father?
MK: “My dad is a salesman and a business coach so he loves motivational speaking. Ever since we were kids he would always inspire us to chase our dreams: find a dream and put our 10,000 hours in. That was one of his big things, if you love something put your 10,000 hours in and good things will come. He was a hard working guy and a big proponent of pouring into what you love whether that’s your family, your music, your job, your hobbies, whatever it is. I did that with music and we got to do a lot of those hours together. Now when I’m out on the road I get to call him up and say ‘hey dad, I played in Chicago tonight and I played ‘First Last Name” and tell him how the song connected with people.”