There’s a noble lineage in Country Music composed of singers who are short in stature but towering in talent. From Brenda Lee to Little Jimmy Dickens, this group is often overlooked (so to speak) — an injustice that Beth Cayhall is determined to rectify.
Raised in Ocean View, Del., she first made her presence known at age 4 by soloing on “Dear Mr. Jesus” at her church. Growing up, she drew inspiration from Garth Brooks, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Martina McBride, Reba, Shania Twain and other Country stalwarts. Other influences enriched her development, most notably Otis Redding; elements of his intensity, along with other soul music icons, flavor her performances.
Country, though, is Cayhall’s cornerstone. That’s what her paternal grandfather and his siblings featured in their band. Her parents were musicians too, as were two brothers and her sisters. Like the spray of the nearby Atlantic, playing and singing were in the air around her; this may explain the confidence she exudes during each moment of her debut album on Go Time Records, Worth Fighting For.
Produced by Kent Wells, these eight tracks include six Cayhall co-writes. Her current single, “Boys Eat Your Hearts Out” (Cayhall, Dave Robbins and Lonnie Wilson), is a swaggering anthem. The slamming backbeat, strutting tempo, greasy slide guitar, saucy fiddle riff and especially Cayhall’s teasing vocals paint a vivid picture of a girls’ night out. And from her evocation of seasonal celebration on “Summer Me” (Cayhall and Bryan Edwards) to the introspective ballad “Life’s What Happens (When You’re Busy Making Plans)” (Cayhall and Karen Staley), her ability to build songs on solid musical structure and expressive lyrics stands tall.
IN HER OWN WORDS
BOOKS ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND
“Streams in the Desert, a daily devotional by L.B. Cowman, and The Women of Faith Daily Devotional.”
CD IN YOUR STEREO
“My iPod includes a pretty broad range of soul, country, pop, blues, jazz, etc. If I’m working or hanging out around home, I am usually listening to Otis Redding, Adele, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, Etta James, Joss Stone, Marvin Gaye, Grace Potter, Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline. If I’m cooking, I’m listening to Frank Sinatra and my country peers. Right now, I’m listening to the Civil Wars album.”
IDEAL DUET PARTNER
“Definitely Otis Redding, if he were still living. Currently, I’d have to say Adele, Adam Levine or Dolly. Surprisingly, I think it would be pretty awesome to collaborate with Eminem on something!”
SONG YOU SING IN THE SHOWER
“Usually a classic hymn of some sort, or Christmas carols, no matter what time of year it is! Or some kind of songwriting idea I have bouncing around in my head.”
FAVORITE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION
“Boat! I love to be near or in water.”
ACTRESS TO PORTRAY YOU IN A BIOPIC
“Whoever is the shortest. Ha! I’m only 5 feet tall.
FAVORITE FOOD ON THE ROAD
“I love looking for new restaurants that are known for a specialty.”
MOMENT YOU WISH YOU COULD RELIVE
“I’d have to say almost any moment from my childhood. I especially have so many fond memories with my little brother because we were closest in age, playing with grocery carts in my father’s grocery store, building forts and playing games. I’d relive an opportunity to sit on my grandfather’s lap, and would also love to relive the last real conversation I had with my grandmother before Alzheimer’s got the best of her mind.”
SOMETHING WE’D NEVER GUESS ABOUT YOU
“I have practically zero hand-eye coordination and can be extremely clumsy.”
On the Web: www.BethCayhall.com
On Twitter: @BethCayhall
By Bob Doerschuk
Photo Credit: Melinda Norris
© 2012 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.