Gabby Barrett returns to Pittsburgh with Toby Keith tour
Gabby Barrett has Pittsburgh in her heart.
The “American Idol” finalist and Munhall native is busy making a name for herself in Nashville and traveling all over the country for concert dates – and she’s still thinking about her hometown.
Even in the lyrics of her latest song, “The Good Ones,” released in July, her friends and family from the ‘Burgh can catch a reference to the Allegheny River as she describes the attributes of fellow “American Idol” alum Cade Foehner, her fiancé and inspiration for the new single.
“He’s solid and he’s steady like the Allegheny runs, he knows just where he’s going and he’s proud of where he’s from,” she sings near the beginning of the song that Barrett co-wrote with Emily Landis, Jim McCormick and Zachary Kale.
The couple announced their engagement in March.
‘He’s a keeper’
“When people ask me about Cade, I always end up saying, ‘He’s great, he’s a keeper, he’s a good one,’” says Barrett, 19. “That’s where the song came from — appreciating what I’ve got and what he means to me.”
They haven’t set a wedding date yet, and they’ve only started sharing their ideas for what their first dance together music will be. “I’d say something Dan + Shay and he’d say something ‘Star Wars,’ so we’ll see,” she told People magazine earlier this summer.
“The Good Ones” follows her country debut single, “I Hope,” written with Jon Nite and Zachary Kale.
Coming home again
Meanwhile, Barrett, who announced in May that she signed with Warner Music Nashville and is working on her first full-length album, is spending most of her time in Nashville, Tenn., when she’s not on tour.
She will be returning to Pittsburgh to perform as part of country artist Toby Keith’s That’s Country Bro! Tour stop, along with Clay Walker, on Sept. 27 at Highmark Stadium at Station Square.
Barrett opened for Keith at a country music festival in Ohio in July and is looking forward to performing with him again.
She also sang at country star and “American Idol” judge Luke Bryan’s concert last year at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, an event she won’t soon forget.
Focused on goals
Barrett is confident about her goals for the future when it comes to her music career.
“I’d like to be nominated for a CMA Award next year and play Madison Square Garden in two years — and maybe win a couple of Grammys,” she says.
At least for now, she knows that Nashville is where she needs to be.
“If you want to seriously be in country music, you have to make your way down here. I’m surrounded by my team and my management that are here,” she says in a phone call with the Tribune-Review.
“My family is still in Pittsburgh. I’m one of eight siblings and my dad has been amazing. I just want to make them proud.”
Being in the “country music capital of the world” has helped her focus on writing songs.
“At first I was really bad — ‘the sky is blue, how are you’ — but being around amazing people teaching me, the wheels start turning being in the same room with them,” she says.
Support from family, friends
She knows her hometown has her back.
“Regardless of where I move, I know Pittsburgh is so supportive of their locals. It’s such a hardworking town, they’re so supportive,” she said. “It’s an exciting time for me.”
Her advice for this season’s “American Idol” hopefuls is simple: Definitely try it.
“I remember being a little hesitant at first – but it became one of the highlights of my life,” she adds. “Pay attention to your song choice and go with the genre you’re most comfortable with.”
Barrett’s upcoming fall schedule includes supporting Kane Brown in October at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and opening for Chris Lane on his “Big, Big Plans Tour” with seven shows from Nov. 1-Dec. 8, including concerts at House of Blues in Orlando, Fla., and Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.