Belting out trucking’s voice
Date: June 12 at 9 p.m. EDT
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Lindsay Lawler’s tunes resonate through the industry and beyond
Country music singer Lindsay Lawler says she waves at every truck she and her crew pass along highways and stops traveling nationwide for their mostly trucking-oriented shows and gigs. She’s even looking for a truck for herself, so she and her band can move about self-contained and be able to pop out a stage wherever they feel there’s a crowd that warrants a show.
She first took a shine to the trucking industry — and drivers, specifically — after landing a gig at The Great American Trucking Show in Dallas a few years ago.
“I still play in Nashville, but I found a home in the trucking industry,” she says, adding drivers and musicians have much in common: “We leave our families and stay on the road, and that’s our job,” she says.
With empathy came even greater appreciation, Lawler says, “and I really started making a connection with who truck drivers are and where their heads and hearts are. It’s such a loyal industry with just good ol’ American values.”
It’s helped her songwriting blossom, too, she says. Her goal when writing new music is to create something made for trucking and about trucking but that also resonates outside the industry.
On her most recent album, “The Long Haul,” the title track works as both a general “female empowerment song,” Lawler says, and a theme for women in the industry (and for Women in Trucking, of which Lawler is a member). “Female drivers know it’s written for them. It’s kind of a powerful female anthem, hopefully,” she says.
The other is a duet she named “He Loves the Road,” written for outgoing TCA Chairman Gary Salisbury. It tells the story of Salisbury and his wife and riffs on “the struggle of having a love affair with the road,” Lawler says.
The Oklahoma native says she got her start “singing in country bars and the church,” but she started a rock band in Texas in college and moved to Los Angeles directly afterward to play Sunset Strip.
In 2008, she took her act to Nashville and had gigs at Tootsie’s Bar four or five nights a week for about two years. “I sang there in four-hour shifts,” she says. “It was hard work, but I started booking my road trips through that. From there I started going on the road, and eventually wound up playing in Dallas at GATS.”
For a short while after, she fit a trucking concert into her schedule here and there, but wound up making a full transition about two years ago. “I decided to quit downtown full-time and wanted to commit to the road.”
She’s since focused her time on trucking conventions, trucking shows and other industry events. Her writing has progressed accordingly. “As a songwriter you learn to be really observant and listen to people,” she says. “Most of my song ideas come from one line someone says.”
She takes suggestions from drivers and fields song ideas daily. There’s no shortage in on-road yarns, either, coming from truckers. “Drivers have the best stories,” she says. “They’re out there every day seeing the world, and it’s interesting to hear it all from their perspective. It gives you another view on things.”
She’s currently in a partnership with TCA and its Highway Angel program, and she wrote and recorded a song about this year’s winner and starred in a music video for the song that TCA produced for promoting Highway Angel. “The trucking industry — that’s my thing, and I couldn’t be happier I found it,” Lawler says. “It’s become what I’m known for in Nashville, and I want to continue to grow in it.”
Her next song is already in the works, too, Lawler says — “One Mile at a Time.”
“I heard a driver give a speech, and he said he takes it one mile at a time,” she says. “I feel like just that line is so identifiable in so many areas.”
She’s planning the details for summer and fall tours now.