Midwestern Women in Music: Savanna Chestnut

From Americus to Nashville, Savanna Chesnut, brings a fresh new take on country music in cities big and small. Releasing her new album in May, we get an exclusive sneak peek into her current sound. 

Transcript:

00;00;00;19 – 00;00;01;12

Gable

Can you speak for me?

00;00;02;12 – 00;00;08;17

Savanna Chestnut

Check. One, two, three. Hey. Yes, one, two. Check. One, two, three.

00;00;16;25 – 00;00;18;28

Savanna Chestnut

Hello? One, two. Hey. Check.

00;00;20;14 – 00;00;21;11

Autumn

Okay. On.

00;00;22;08 – 00;00;24;22

Gable

Yeah, I can hear it. Yeah.

00;00;28;09 – 00;00;33;16

Gable

Yeah. Hold on. Let me do another I can.

00;00;33;16 – 00;00;43;29

Savanna Chestnut

Use it for me. All right, check. One, two. Hey, one, two, three. Check. One, two, hey, hey. Check. One, two.

00;00;45;04 – 00;00;47;15

Gable

Yeah, I think that sounds. Might sounds.

00;00;47;17 – 00;00;48;29

Autumn

Speed amnesty.

00;00;49;18 – 00;00;55;27

Gable

I’m gonna do it another day. Do it again.

00;00;56;16 – 00;00;58;07

Savanna Chestnut

Yeah, I. My check. There we go.

00;00;59;18 – 00;01;01;06

Gable

Yeah, we don’t have it.

00;01;01;22 – 00;01;21;19

Autumn

So, yeah, we’d like to do more relevant. But anyway, getting started like that. Okay. Um, would you okay? Would you mind saying your first and last name and how to spell it?

00;01;22;04 – 00;01;28;19

Savanna Chestnut

My name is Savanna Chestnut. S a v a n n a c h e s t n u t.

00;01;29;14 – 00;01;39;03

Autumn

And then I’m going to stand right here. If you could look at me during the questions, I’m sure so. Yeah, if you wouldn’t mind telling me where you’re from and a little bit how you first got into music.

00;01;40;04 – 00;02;03;01

Savanna Chestnut

I’m originally from Americus, Kansas, which is a little bitty town out near Emporia, Kansas, which is only slightly bigger. It’s about eight or 900 people. Americus and I started playing music when I was about 12 or 13 and locally. But I guess it really began when I was maybe first or second grade singing karaoke in my grandparents bar that they used to own in Emporia.

00;02;03;03 – 00;02;04;16

Savanna Chestnut

It’s called Sodies. So.

00;02;05;03 – 00;02;06;15

Autumn

Yeah, tell me a little bit about that.

00;02;07;05 – 00;02;24;01

Savanna Chestnut

Well, my grandma and grandpa owned the bar out there, and my grandpa was kind of a local legend, so they named the bar after him. I think that was why anyways, he was really great at Poole, and he was kind of known to be sort of a wild guy. So the bar was called Sodies, and my mom helped out there a lot when she was raising us.

00;02;24;14 – 00;02;40;22

Savanna Chestnut

She was single, so we spent a lot of time with her at the bar because we had to and started doing karaoke nights. There just kind of for fun because I always loved to sing and the regulars told me I was awesome, so I believed them and I just kept singing.

00;02;40;22 – 00;02;49;05

Autumn

That. So I know since always fun, but when did it become more of something that you different fun as something you knew you wanted to do for like a full time? Well.

00;02;50;20 – 00;03;12;13

Savanna Chestnut

Well, I don’t know. We always I’ve always been really drawn to music. It’s always been kind of what I lean on when things get hard or just it’s such a big part of my life, no matter what’s going on. So it’s just kind of always been the thing that I come back to. And I decided that I wanted to be a singer when I was about maybe six, and I just never changed my mind.

00;03;12;13 – 00;03;16;01

Savanna Chestnut

So I started being really serious about it kind of from the beginning.

00;03;17;01 – 00;03;21;01

Autumn

So what is music do for you and what do you hope music does for your fans?

00;03;21;17 – 00;03;52;19

Savanna Chestnut

Music for me is like, it’s everything. It’s kind of hard to explain, but it’s it’s what heals you, it’s what comforts you, it’s what makes a bad day better. It’s also just everything fun, you know? Music’s in the background of all of our greatest moments in life. I think. So what I hope my music does for other people is that it’s just something that they can resonate with that kind of tells their story as well as mine and kind of brings us all together and connects us.

00;03;53;10 – 00;03;53;28

Autumn

I love that.

00;03;54;10 – 00;04;01;21

Autumn

So what would you describe as your, like, songwriting journey? Like how much does that play into what you love to do? Music wise?

00;04;02;03 – 00;04;22;23

Savanna Chestnut

It’s pretty important. I’ve always really loved writing. I actually used to just write little stories when I was a kid, and I started writing songs pretty early on, too, even before I knew how to play an instrument. I’m pretty sure most of them were just stolen from the melodies of songs. I heard on the radio that I put my own words to that were probably not better, but no, I’ve just I’ve I’ve always been doing it.

00;04;23;11 – 00;04;40;14

Savanna Chestnut

I’d say I actually started getting pretty good at it when I moved to Nashville when I was about 18 or 19 and started spending time around some really established songwriters that were really good. And that kind of showed me in which ways I needed to step it up. I started kind of developing a very storytelling style of songwriting.

00;04;40;23 – 00;04;50;27

Savanna Chestnut

And most importantly, I learned to start writing what’s true to me and not worry about the type of music you hear on the radio. You have to just write what you know and what you feel. So I.

00;04;50;27 – 00;04;53;25

Autumn

Love that. So what did that move to Nashville look like for you?

00;04;54;12 – 00;05;15;13

Savanna Chestnut

It was crazy. I was fresh out of high school. I had told everybody I was going to move, and I have a big thing about I always do the things I say I’m going to do. I just I grew up in such a small town in a little trailer park in that town, and I, I just wanted to go somewhere and do something new and meet new people and do big things.

00;05;15;13 – 00;05;41;15

Savanna Chestnut

And so I went out there pretty bright eyed and bushy tailed, really excited, and it was an exciting experience. I did meet a lot of people, and I learned a lot about the music business really quickly because I knew nothing when I got there, and I knew it was going to be hard. But, you know, you can’t really prepare yourself for how hard it really is and the adjustment from such a small town to such a big city was kind of wild for me.

00;05;41;26 – 00;06;03;07

Savanna Chestnut

So, you know, I’d say I was pretty over it after about a two years, but eventually a little record label in Kansas City offered me a deal. So I came back to Kansas to work more closely with them. And even though that eventually fell through, I developed a band from there and started playing a lot more often than I did when I lived in Nashville, which was mostly just me waitressing.

00;06;04;27 – 00;06;12;05

Autumn

So what kind of happened after you went to Nashville? Like, what are some big successes since that time or during that time that really mean a lot to you?

00;06;12;15 – 00;06;28;05

Savanna Chestnut

Well, there’s been a lot, you know, even though that first record deal fell through, that was still kind of a big deal to me. It showed me that I did have some talent and I did have some potential there. So there was that, and then there was forming an actual band, which up until then I’d just played by myself solo shows with me and my guitar.

00;06;28;05 – 00;06;44;11

Savanna Chestnut

And so that was a learning experience. And that’s kind of an important thing in the industry to start getting people to take you a little more seriously as having a whole band behind you, even though you make a little less money when you do it that way. I got to do some pretty cool shows I’ve opened for people like Tanya Tucker.

00;06;44;21 – 00;07;08;04

Savanna Chestnut

We’ve done Gary Allen recently um, Eli Young Band a couple of times, several other acts as well that I’ve looked up to that I’ve got to perform and share a stage with and then last year or early, yeah, last year when it would have aired, I was on The Voice on Season 20, and so that was kind of another really validating moment of, Hey, you’re doing the right thing.

00;07;08;05 – 00;07;13;14

Savanna Chestnut

I’ve always felt it, but it’s nice to have a sign, you know, that you’re still doing what you’re supposed to be doing.

00;07;13;23 – 00;07;19;23

Autumn

Absolutely. So how did that time on The Voice kind of shape what you do and just how was that experience for you overall?

00;07;20;17 – 00;07;41;13

Savanna Chestnut

You know, it was it was unexpected. I never thought I’d end up on a show like that. I actually consider myself more of a songwriter than a vocalist. And since that show was all about the voice, and I just kind of didn’t think I had what it took to be on it. So again, very validating It’s definitely more a reality TV show than it is about just the music.

00;07;41;13 – 00;07;56;28

Savanna Chestnut

So that was a little frustrating for me personally, but it was overall a really positive experience, kind of a once in a lifetime deal, and it’s definitely helped open the door to some bigger and better shows that maybe weren’t giving me the time of day before now. So that’s been cool.

00;07;57;15 – 00;08;04;05

Autumn

Yeah. So did you get to work with any like parties for like me and my friends along the way and the industry that you like maintained a connection with.

00;08;05;01 – 00;08;25;14

Savanna Chestnut

Yeah, I have tons of musician friends, not necessarily big names, but, you know, very, very talented people that have helped me get better too. And we all kind of help each other out. Music’s 100% a networking thing, and it’s, it’s, it’s important to have friends and be good to people and just kind of help each other along the way.

00;08;25;14 – 00;08;25;24

Savanna Chestnut

So.

00;08;26;28 – 00;08;41;11

Autumn

So I think it was like kind of a stereotype. But like starting your career in the Midwest, it’s like if it’s not L.A. or it’s not gonna do it. But what do you have to say about like being an artist that is from the Midwest? How has that kind of affected your journey?

00;08;41;17 – 00;09;02;01

Savanna Chestnut

That’s a really great question. Yes. People do tell you, oh, you have to go to Nashville or, you know, if you’re in a different industry, maybe you have to go to L.A., but it’s not true anymore. I don’t think, especially having gone to Nashville myself and kind of experience, that the Internet’s really kind of changed everything, and that does not exclude the music industry.

00;09;02;24 – 00;09;19;18

Savanna Chestnut

You’ve got social media, you’ve got Tik Tok. A lot of the bigger artists that have come up in the last few years have gotten popular off of TikTok. Um, yeah, it definitely you can share your music in a lot of other ways and spread it across the world and have fans all over the place without having to move to a big city.

00;09;20;24 – 00;09;41;20

Savanna Chestnut

The other part of that is that I think the myth used to be that labels would find you in some tiny bar in Nashville singing and selling you to the label. I like to call it the Magic Record Label Fairy, because that’s everybody’s idea, right? They’re going to meet the right person one day and they’re going to sign on to a label or some manager, and they’re going to make them huge and put them on tour with some big act like George Strait or something.

00;09;42;04 – 00;10;01;15

Savanna Chestnut

And this just I don’t think that’s really the way it works anymore. Maybe once upon a time it did. But in my adult life, that’s not really been the way it’s worked. So it’s important to kind of adjust to the new ways of things. There’s quite a music scene in the Midwest, and venues actually pay a lot better out here than they ever paid in Nashville.

00;10;01;15 – 00;10;12;13

Savanna Chestnut

So I’m happy to be here, and I do spend a lot of time touring the Midwest, but we also get to go outside of the Midwest a little bit too. And so I’m just working on growing from here.

00;10;13;04 – 00;10;25;25

Autumn

Yeah. So now that you find your roots in Nebraska and like kind of figuring out this area in this scene, what have you noticed? Do you like it here? What are some just successes of being in this area? You seem really happy.

00;10;26;02 – 00;10;44;01

Savanna Chestnut

Yeah, well, I spent a lot of time playing in Nebraska before I moved here, and I’d lived in Kansas. And, you know, it seemed like I was playing here a lot anyway, and I just wanted to change a scene, so I came out here. Nebraskans are pretty friendly people. I’ve I’ve always liked in Nebraska, and it’s really not that different from Kansas in a lot of ways.

00;10;45;05 – 00;11;08;02

Savanna Chestnut

So it still kind of feels like home. And it’s just a nice place to be based out of to tour around. I find that most small Nebraska bars are pretty excited to have you. You know, they’re a lot more appreciative than some of those big city venues that get artists all the time. And they kind of act more like they’re doing you a favor by letting you play there versus some of these smaller places.

00;11;08;02 – 00;11;13;22

Savanna Chestnut

They’re just so excited to have you so appreciative, and that reflects in every way. So it’s nice.

00;11;14;20 – 00;11;20;03

Autumn

That. So now that you’re here, what are some plans that you have for the future? Anything exciting coming.

00;11;20;03 – 00;11;39;20

Savanna Chestnut

Up? Um, well, I am going to be releasing an album in May, so I decided to drop one on my birthday this year. May second, which has been kind of a while in the making, and it’s all original music other than one song and a good friend of mine wrote. So this will be the first album that I’m releasing that has a song somebody else wrote instead of just myself.

00;11;40;22 – 00;11;51;26

Savanna Chestnut

Other than that, I’m planning a music video in the summer, and in the meantime I’ll just be kind of hitting the lake out here and enjoying time by myself, just relaxing and.

00;11;52;10 – 00;12;01;11

Autumn

Yeah, that’s about it. I love that. So what’s some of the excitement that you’re going to expect that like releasing an album? What does that look like? What is what does it mean for you to be able to release that?

00;12;01;24 – 00;12;24;08

Savanna Chestnut

It’s I am it’s really important to me to release music. My thing with it is even if it doesn’t end up being some kind of big chart topping thing, which, you know, I’m not with a label, I am independent, so that’s likely that it’s not going to be I think it’s kind of a legacy thing. You know, I like to have something that I can leave behind for, you know, my grandkids and their grandkids.

00;12;24;08 – 00;12;42;06

Savanna Chestnut

And, you know, even if I never get bigger than I am right now, my music gets to live on so having the recordings to put out there is a really big deal to me, which is also why I make physical copies, too. So it’s kind of protected in every way. But all my songs are very personal to me, and I like to share my stories.

00;12;42;06 – 00;12;52;27

Savanna Chestnut

And I, like I said earlier, I hope that they kind of resonate with some people. And I’ve been told on occasion that they have. So I like to be able to have that out there for them to to listen to whenever they need it.

00;12;53;18 – 00;13;04;23

Autumn

Yeah. So one of my last questions is like fan interaction what kind of reactions have you gotten to your music? Have you felt more connected with people since you’ve been able to share your music with them?

00;13;05;02 – 00;13;31;02

Savanna Chestnut

Absolutely. And it’s weird. I’m kind of at a point in my career where sometimes I go places and people are like, There she is and they’re excited. And then sometimes they’re like, Who is that? So it’s cool. It’s kind of mixed. But yeah, just the most important thing to me overall is having songs that they like and that mean something to them that, you know, sometimes they even sing along with it shows or dance too, and that just means the world to me.

00;13;31;02 – 00;13;38;04

Savanna Chestnut

So at the end of the day, it’s all just about sharing my music with them and kind of being able to connect with people through that.

00;13;38;24 – 00;13;47;16

Autumn

Absolutely. Is there anything else that you feel I haven’t asked you that you’d like to share about just your musical journey, who you are that you want people to know from this video?

00;13;48;14 – 00;14;07;20

Savanna Chestnut

Um, not that I can think of. You covered some great questions. I would just maybe add that, you know, we kind of live in a time right now where the most popular style of country music is more pop, and it is kind of coming back a little bit the traditional country sound. But I’ve been doing it since the beginning, so I’m still doing that.

00;14;07;20 – 00;14;15;22

Savanna Chestnut

And so I’ve got some pretty true rooted country music for the people that still really enjoy that, that they can listen to.

00;14;17;06 – 00;14;19;05

Autumn

Do you have any questions? No.

00;14;22;15 – 00;14;25;18

Autumn

I really, really appreciate your time. We’ve got a lot of good stuff here.

00;14;25;24 – 00;14;27;00

Savanna Chestnut

All right. Good deal.

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