In July of this year, rising country singer-songwriter Alexandra Kay posted a TikTok of herself covering Tim McGraw’s ‘90s hit “Don’t Take The Girl” while making her morning coffee. “Coffee covers” is something Kay has become known for on the app. About two months later, McGraw saw the video on TikTok, duetted it, and gave her his praises stating that he loved her voice. Kay saw the video while watching a set at Whiskey Jam, a frequent live music event in Nashville. “My phone just starts blowing up. We just screamed,” Kay tells us. “I walked outside and had a moment. I watched the full video and when he said, ‘Somebody needs to sign this girl’ I couldn’t even breathe.”
Kay grew up in Waterloo, Illinois, near the border of Missouri. Her family was centered around sports and it was pre-determined that Kay would most likely get a full ride to college playing competitive softball. “And then I kind of threw a wrench in things,” she says laughing. She told her parents she didn’t want to go to college right away. Instead, she would take a year off and pursue music. Although Kay’s family wasn’t musically inclined, they played country radio and raised her and her siblings on country music.
When Kay started high school, she explored writing her own music. “I was going through the normal changes of life as a teenager. I was making new friends and trying to figure out where I belonged,” she explains. “I’ve always been a very emotional person; I was always a very emotional child. I needed an outlet to navigate all of the new experiences I was having. I started writing diary entries and they turned into poems. I started hearing melodies in my head and started writing songs.” Her big emotions are still captured in the music she writes and releases.
Social media completely changed the game for Kay. Back in 2016, she left a record deal she had with an independent label in St. Louis where she sang R&B music. “I parted from them and decided I wanted to make my way back to country. I didn’t really know how to start or how to get my voice out there,” she shares. She decided to post videos of her singing on Facebook and oftentimes, they would go viral. Seeing how that opened many doors for her, she knew TikTok could possibly do the same. “It was kind of a no-brainer when I heard about TikTok. Having gotten my start on Facebook and getting a lot of fans there, obviously, it’s an older demographic on Facebook, so what I saw in TikTok was the opportunity to reach a younger demographic for the first time,” she tells us.
Coffee covers became a staple for Kay. She started posting videos of herself making her daily cup of joe, and people connected with them and found them entertaining. “I was just making coffee in the morning and singing and I decided to press record on my phone,” she says nonchalantly. “I uploaded the first one and it got three million views. I was like, ‘Okay, uh, this could be something cool?’” Despite the simple concept, it’s unique, it’s fun and typically, Kay is dressed down and looks relaxed in the videos revealing a hint of relatability. On the platform, she has gained over 2 million followers and over 31 million total likes. Not only has Tim McGraw seen her videos, but so has country legend Randy Travis who has gone on to appear in videos that are featured on her page.
Photo by Curt Simhauser
This year she’s released a few singles and also featured on sister duo Tigirlily’s song “Somebody Does.” Her single, “How Do We Go” is a power ballad that’s on the verge of hitting one million streams on Spotify. “Sonically, it’s a song that I wanted to write for a very long time,” exclaims Kay. “Everything I do is pretty soft and delicate and I rely a lot on storytelling and being relatable but also reaching a large audience. With this song, I really wanted to vocally show off a little bit.”
Kay came up with the concept for the track while sitting in her bathtub one night. The original idea was to write about how relationships can go from good to bad, but her co-writer Matt Wyn suggested they flip it the other way around and express longing for the better days and wishing to go back to that. “We started writing and we were up until one or two in the morning and none of us wanted to leave the write because we wanted to get it done. We were just so excited about the song,” Kay says. “It’s a song that I hold really close to my heart especially being in a relationship for nine years, we all know love is really hard.”
Kay is currently on tour with Thomas Mac and Cooper Alan, two other recognizable TikTok country singers. They became friends by being a part of the 615 house on TikTok; an influencer house based in Nashville. “We’ve all made our way through the labels and had the talks because we’ve all had songs that have topped the iTunes charts. None of us signed. We all decided to stay independent right now,” she states. The idea for going on tour came one night when the three were FaceTiming like they normally do. “We were like, let’s just do this together. Let’s just go out on the road and show people that we can sell tickets and we don’t need to have a major label behind us right now. We don’t have to have major management, or major booking, or major marketing behind us. We can leverage our audience that we’ve created over the past year and let’s just prove that we can do this.”
The ‘In Real Lival LIfe Tour’ started in July of 2021 and took the three artists to a few southern states and parts of the midwest. Her third single “Tall Boys” was created with a set intention: she needed a powerful closer on the road. “I really wanted to give my fans something different,” she says. “I wanted to show them that I’m not a one-trick pony, that I can write any kind of song not just love songs, not just heartbreak songs, that I can kick it up and party with the boys.” The track is a raging, party anthem with dirty guitars and playful distortions added by her producer Andrew Capra.
Kay is gearing up for the third leg of the ‘In Real Life Tour’ which will take place on the western side of the country. Once the tour is up, she hopes to shift gear from being a businesswoman to getting creative again and hopefully write a full-length studio album. Right now though, she’s grateful to be touring with her best friends, leveraging the audience they’ve built over the past year. “It’s crazy to be out on stage and look out into a packed house and feel like, we did this,” she exclaims. “We did it by ourselves.”
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