INTERVIEW: Kristi Hoopes returns with ‘Life of the Party” EP

​​​Whether you ask Taste of Country, Today In Nashville, or any of the other journalists, bloggers, and country music lovers that she has spoken with, there’s one thing they can all agree on – Kristi Hoopes has the tried-and-true sound that country music needs right now.

With a knack for vivid songwriting and a voice aching with the vintage rasp of songstresses like Emmylou Harris and Bonnie Raitt, Kristi is turning heads – and chairs. Performing Trisha Yearwood’s “Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love” before 11.9 million viewers, Kristi turned the chairs of Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, and Jennifer Hudson on Season 13 of NBC’s The Voice. Though the battle for this brilliant young artist was fierce, she was proud to take her place as the last member of Team Blake.

This is not the first time she has caught the attention of industry giants. In August 2016, her cover of “Different For Girls” was shared by country superstar Dierks Bentley and radio mogul Bob Kingsley, garnering over 750,000 views across Facebook and Instagram. 

Born and raised beneath the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Kristi knew she was destined to make a name for herself in Music City after performing Loretta Lynn’s version of “These Boots Are Made for Walking” in her 3rd grade talent show.

Produced by Grammy-winner Paul Worley (The Chicks, Lady A) and seasoned session guitarist Biff Watson (Don Williams, Crystal Gayle), her debut EP – Life of the Party – features Hoopes as a writer on all six tracks with collaborative appearances by Kirsti Manna (“Austin” – Blake Shelton) and Lynn Wilbanks (“A Bridge Across” – Dolly Parton feat. Mark O’Connor and the Nashville Symphony).

From swampy, firebrand southern rock to delicate singer-songwriter ballads (and even a bit of four-on-the-floor disco), Life of the Party offers listeners a wide range of soundscapes all soaked in retro spirit. For this emerging maven of new nostalgia, the party is just getting started.

Hi Kristi, how would you describe your new release?

Unapologetically country yet unafraid to dabble in the unconventional.

What’s been the reception so far?

Glowingly positive. Listeners and reviewers across the board have applauded its authenticity and sonic diversity, which were the two main drivers behind creating the EP.

Personal favorite song on the record and why?

That’s like picking a favorite child! It’s a toss-up between “Don’t Worry Mama” and “What Comes Next.” Both of those songs are about the most beloved people in my life. One reflects on my past, the other looks to my future.   

How would you say you’ve evolved personally and musically since your appearance on The Voice?

I think I was vocally mischaracterized as a heavy hitting belter on The Voice since my audition song was structured that way. I’ve always considered myself to be gentler and stripped back, and was hoping to show off my softer side. I suppose I was afraid that country music wouldn’t have a place for someone quieter, but I’ve decided to make that place for myself. On a personal level, I’ve grown more patient and put more effort into the life part of my work-life balance.  

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their journey as a songwriter/musician and doesn’t know the ropes yet?

  1. Study. Do a little digging on the music you love. Research the backgrounds of the songwriters. Study the structure, rhyme scheme, and tempo of your favorite songs. Buy Donald S. Passman’s, “All You Need to Know About the Music Business.”
  2. Practice. You may be the most naturally gifted singer or writer in the world, but the difference between someone who makes a living as an artist or songwriter and someone who doesn’t often boils down to work ethic. Find a vocal coach. Start writing songs (no matter how bad they may be at first). Put in the work when no one is looking.
  3. Perform. Post-COVID, start looking for local places near you to perform. Different genres cater to different venues. Performing in public is not only about introducing others to your music and developing your stage presence but meeting other creatives who you may collaborate with in the future.
  4. Network. Attend other artists’ shows, industry seminars, workshops, and the like. Find a mentor and soak up as much of their wisdom as you can. Be present in your local music community.

What do you define as success?

If I’m making music that I love, have the people I care about by my side, and am doing my best to be the woman God calls me to be every day, I’m successful.

Brag to me about your biggest weakness and how you have or are overcoming it.

I would say I suffer from the imposter syndrome a bit, in which a person doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments. I set extremely high goals for myself, and even if I achieve 99% of them, I still feel as though I’ve failed if I miss the 1%. Not feeling “productive enough” causes me stress and delegating tasks is incredibly difficult for me. Spending time with the Word and my fiancé has helped me manage it. I have to remind myself daily that my worth is not defined by my productivity. 

And If you could master one one-music related skill, what would it be?

Does being able to play guitar like John Mayer count?

What perks you up when you are feeling blue?

Prayer time, sushi and/or chicken nuggets, fiancé snuggles, and a bubble bath always does the trick. Maybe a nap too if I’m feeling blue and cranky.

What else are you working on or have coming up next?

I’ve already started writing and tracking new music, so stay tuned!

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