- Associated Press - Saturday, May 6, 2017

IUKA, Miss. (AP) - When singer Gabby Boyd first met her music producer, he didn’t know what to expect.

“He thought I was going to be an African-American girl from the city. He was like, ‘Wow, she’s a country girl,’” the 28-year-old Boyd said.

An Iuka native, Boyd has been writing songs since she was 13. Some of those were rap songs, and others were country. She likes performing and listening to both genres, but country is where her heart is.

“I grew up listening to ‘Don’t Break My Achy Breaky Heart’ by Billy Ray Cryus,” she said. “I was a little girl in the Piggly Wiggly singing it.”

After earning a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Southern Mississippi, she ended up working for WTVA. The job fit her outgoing personality.

“I love to meet people. I love talking to people. I love interacting with them,” she said. “I’ll just strike up a conversation.”

But her dreams of becoming a professional singer tugged at her. At Christmas, her dad, Jerry “10-Speed” Boyd, surprised her by paying for studio time with James Stroud, a Nashville producer who’s worked with Tracy Lawrence, Clay Walker and Carlene Carter.

“I told her to follow her dreams,” Jerry Boyd said. “Nashville is the place to go. If she wanted to do country music-type stuff, that’s the place to go.”

Since February, Boyd has been living in Mufreesboro, Tennessee, where she works as an insurance agent.

“You can make your own schedule, your own hours,” she said. “That’s how I can work with my music without having to be tied up all day.”

Stroud hired musicians and brought Boyd into his studio, where she recorded three of her original compositions, “Bama,” ”Snake in the Grass,” and “Jack Ass.”

The second two songs were inspired by people who turned out not to be who she thought they were, while “Bama” is a celebration of life in the country.

“‘Bama’ isn’t just about stuff in Alabama,” she said. “It’s about the South in general. The South has so much to offer. It’s just beautiful.”

It was based on the good times she had growing up in Iuka, where there was always a four-wheeler ready to be ridden.

“I’m a north Mississippi girl,” she said. “I get to talking to people and they say, ‘You’re not from around here with that accent.’ I tell them, ‘I’m from that line, that Mississippi-Alabama-Tennessee line, right there in the corner.’”

To sample her songs, visit gabby.hearnow.com. The page has links to iTunes, Spotify and CD Baby.

Boyd is hoping to share her music by performing live at festivals in the summer. As a teenager, she sang during Tupelo’s Juneteenth concert, and she opened for rapper David Banner in Holly Springs.

“I’m not shy. I’m not scared of a microphone, either,” she said. “I haven’t been on stage in a minute, so I’m a little excited about that.”

Boyd also is looking through her collection of songs, trying to pick others to record. Her life has been a swirl of musical activity since February, and Boyd said she’s happy to go with the flow and see where it gets her.

“You only get one life to live,” she said. “People may call you crazy for doing this, doing that. It doesn’t matter what they say. Follow your dreams.”


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