When one door closes, another one opens, and that couldn’t ring more true for rising country songstress Hannah Ellis.
As she sat backstage with Celeb Secrets Country at the 2022 CMA Music Festival in Nashville last month, she reflected on what it’s taken to get to the moment of performing as a major-label artist at the longest-running country music festival in the world.
“I realized that the last time I played at CMA Fest, I didn’t have a record deal, I hadn’t had a song go to radio… so this is a huge deal,” she told Celeb Secrets Country reporter Blakely McHugh.
Hannah has grown up her entire life watching artists perform on the Chevy Vibes Stage at the Walk of Fame during the four-day fest and always hoped she would have her time to shine on the same stage in the future.
Little did she know, that opportunity would come on June 10, 2022, as she headlined her own set during the second day of the Nashville-based festival.
“It’s really sweet to finally get to be up there,” she said with a smile.
While it may look like it came overnight, securing that slot on the Chevy Vibes stage was not an easy feat. As many performers in the entertainment industry will tell you, you often get more no’s than yes’.
For Ellis, one of those big “no’s” came in 2015 on one of the most popular singing competition shows in the U.S. — The Voice.
At the mere age of 23, Ellis performed “This One’s For The Girls” by Martina McBride in front of Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine and Pharrell Williams during season eight’s blind auditions.
“[I was on] for like a hot second. I didn’t get a chair turned.”
The “Happy” singer said she had a couple of rough patches in her audition likely caused by nerves, but advised her to come back for another season.
As luck would have it, she didn’t need to come back.
“While I was out for ‘The Voice,’ I got an email from a publisher in Nashville and they said, ‘hey we’ve been hearing a lot of your songs and we’d actually like to offer you a publishing deal.”
That email came from publishing label Curb, who she is still with today.
If Ellis had made it past the blind auditions, she would have been under contract with NBC, meaning she wouldn’t be able to accept other deals.
“I didn’t make the show and it actually worked out because I came home and was able to sign a publishing deal.”
Since signing with Curb, Ellis’ life has truly been a Cinderella story. She’s gone on to write songs recorded by artists, be featured on tracks with Carly Pearce, Russell Dickerson and FILMORE, performed at the Grand Ole Opry, and released a handful of singles along with a debut EP.
Currently, Hannah is hard at work on her first-ever full-length album that’s set to be be released early next year. Originally set as an EP, Hannah said that from the moment she completed the first few songs, she knew there was more of a story to tell.
“As I’m putting together the rest of the record, I feel like I have the opportunity to share deeper into my story,” Ellis shared about the upcoming album. “[I get to share] more parts of myself than just like, ‘here’s my best five songs that I love.’”
There’s one song in particular that stands out from the rest called, “Too Much and Not Enough.” The country singer shared that it’s the most vulnerable that she’s ever been on her music.
Known for writing about topics like heartbreak and her parents’ divorce, “Too Much and Not Enough” tackles another emotion that she hasn’t shared so freely – insecurity.
“That’s a lot harder for me to talk about… it’s even emotional when I sing it.”
While you wait for more from Hannah, you can give her a follow on Instagram at @hannahgreyellis for the latest updates regarding new music, live shows and more.
For more CMA Fest coverage, click here.