As Nashville’s female-focused record label Songs & Daughters approaches its one-year anniversary this month, or “first birthday” as president Nicolle Galyon calls it, the artist collective continues to move into the future with a new publishing arm. In partnership with Big Loud Publishing and Warner Chappell Music, the new publishing venture will enable Songs & Daughters to develop aspiring artists and songwriters, with Tiera signed as its flagship songwriter.
Co-founded by Galyon, a revered songwriter who’s penned a range of hits including Dan + Shay’s “Tequila,” “Automatic” by Miranda Lambert and “Consequences” by Camila Cabello, Songs & Daughters is a platform for female artists to flourish and hone their talents in an industry where their voices are sorely lacking on country radio. But more importantly, it’s a safe space nurturing both the art (the song) and the artist (the daughter). “I’ve always had this vision for Songs & Daughters – it is a record label, but more than that, it’s a home,” Galyon tells Audiofemme in a phone interview from her vacation home in her native Kansas. “Just building this really beautiful family where everyone can be creative and develop together.”
The family is growing with the addition of Tiera, a bright 22-year-old from Birmingham, Alabama with tenacity and a “DIY” spirit. With the new publishing deal, Galyon will mentor Tiera as she writes with high caliber songwriters in town, penning tracks both for herself and for other artists to record. For Galyon, Songs & Daughters is the sanctuary she wishes she had upon moving to Nashville 18 years ago, recalling the sense of community she felt working with female writers, a precious bond she hopes to establish among the up-and-coming women she’s working with through the one-of-a-kind label.
“The genesis of me even wanting to have my own label was looking back and realizing that the female artists that I really loved working with [when] I was a year or two into writing, we had built trust and mutual respect and love and a creative energy in the comfort of a writing room. That’s to me where true partnership has been formed. Creating a space for other writers to get to do that feels true for who I am and how I came into the business,” she explains. “The whole industry is a wild card, but my hope is that I can create opportunity for [Tiera], get her up at bat, get all these artists and writers, the people that I believe in, use my platform to give them an opportunity to get up at bat and swing.”
Since moving to Nashville, Tiera’s work has earned her a slot on the 2018 country music-themed competition show Real Country and in the CMT Next Women of Country class of 2020. A consistent theme among Tiera’s growing catalogue is her polished sound that matches her vibrant, soulful voice and showcases her sweet southern drawl in a way that allows the lyrics to float off her tongue. Take “Rewind,” a storming number about a couple that can’t break toxic habits, juxtaposed with the perky “Out of Sight” that follows a globe-trotting couple seeking a place to escape. Her sharp sensibilities are what drew Galyon to the singer. “It’s an easy listen, but it’s advanced writing,” Galyon describes of Tiera’s songwriting style, calling it “wonderfully digestible.” “She’s so consistent. She keeps writing new songs, but I know what I’m getting.”
Describing her style as R&B country, Tiera’s interest in country music developed in middle school when she taught herself guitar at the age of 13 and started writing songs about first crushes and heartbreaks. “It just naturally came out country,” she says of her songwriting. “I loved writing stories and I loved writing stuff about real life.” As she took songwriting more seriously as a profession, she studied the songwriters behind the tunes she was listening to, dissecting the lyrics and applying the research to her own writing, including those written by Galyon, calling the opportunity to work with her a “full circle” moment.
As a self-admitted “sucker” for writing upbeat love songs, the singer centers her songs around uplifting themes. “What I try to focus on in my life in general is on the good. I feel like there’s so much negativity in this world and I try to not focus on that all the time and focus on the positive. I think there’s so many beautiful things in this world, so I try to relay that in my music,” she observes. “I just want to make people feel good.”
Galyon also sees this gift in her new protégé. Calling the young star “refreshing,” she notes that Tiera’s songs are often “fun” and “hopeful,” citing “Found It In You,” “Tell My Mama” and the unreleased “Fall Out Boy” as her personal favorites. “She really does know who she is and what she wants to do,” Galyon says. “She wants to be a light with her music.” But there’s an important piece of advice she hopes to instill in the young star. “Trust the experts, but always be the loudest voice that you hear,” Galyon advises. “You shouldn’t be the only voice you hear, but you should be the loudest at the end of the day. Your voice needs to be the forefront.”
Listening to her intuition isn’t likely to be much of an issue for Tiera – her song “Wake Up Call” opens with the line “I don’t take orders from nobody but myself,” after all. Tiera hopes to step into a mentoring role one day and bring other artists under her wing like Galyon has done for her. “Nicolle has paved the way for me. I really hope that I can do that for other artists,” she professes. “It’s great to be a part of the charge.”