In Las Vegas, Siena Paglia is known as the blond equestrian who sings the National Anthem at rodeo events and NASCAR races, and at such occasions as Vegas Strong: A Night of Healing, which commemorated the night that hundreds of people were shot at a country music festival during a Jason Aldean show; Paglia herself is one of the survivors. But the Las Vegas native, who also appears sometimes with Vegas country icon Chris Heers, is also a serious singer/songwriter, as she’s been proving since finally making Nashville her home a couple years ago.
Paglia recently dropped her latest single, “Sass,” co-written with producer Don Miggs (Mick Fleetwood, Billy Corgan), and is working on more material for an upcoming EP. She said she loves her hometown and the wide open spaces of the desert, but that a move to Tennessee was necessary to further her career.
“My senior year of college I transferred to UT,” she said, “and I travelled back and forth to Nashville to work on music and be in the city. But then Covid happened and I had to move home to Las Vegas. In 2021, though, I moved permanently to Nashville. I’m just there to live it. There’s an energy there.”
“I’d been in Vegas my whole life and wanted to try something new,” said Paglia, who is sometimes called the “Neon Cowgirl.” “There are just a lot more opportunities and a lot more writers and artists in Nashville that I can get inspiration from. And I’ve had some amazing co-writes,” she said, referencing sessions with such writers as Blessid Union of Souls frontman Eliot Sloane, and Nashville songwriting legend Bobby E. Boyd (Rascal Flatts, Alabama).
Paglia has opened for such acts as Big & Rich, Rodney Atkins and Rascal Flatts in Las Vegas, but knows that the city is about the concert stage much more than about the actual music industry. “I love the big shows in Vegas,” said Paglia, “Miranda and Shania and Celine Dion. But in Nashville, there are 100 times more people trying to do the same thing you’re doing. Nashville can be very challenging, but at the same time, you get a lot more inspiration. The underlying competition pushes you to be better.”
Paglia’s not at a loss for famous friends in the country arena in general, both through Vegas connections and Nashville ones. She has an ally in the renowned producer Tony Brown, who has been keeping an ear out for songs for her. “I met him at the NAMM show in California,” she said, “he was on a panel but I knew who he was from producing George Strait and Reba. Tony’s a really cool guy, so many awards, he’s amazing. He’s a nice guy but he’ll definitely tell you how he feels, good or bad, he’ll give you good feedback. Which I take, always.”
And while it may be peripheral to country music since it involves artists like Ryan Bingham and Kevin Costner, Paglia performed the National Anthem for an equestrian event produced by Yellowstone showrunner Taylor Sheridan in 2021, and the two of them have worked together ever since. “He’s had me sing for him a few times,” she said. “He flew me down to the ranch in Texas to sing, and to perform at some other horse shows as well.”
Paglia’s own style reflects what’s happening at country radio today, but also shows the influences of the music she heard as a child. “I grew up listening to Keith Urban, Toby Keith, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood, Brooks and Dunn, all those guys. I like Shenandoah a lot. For me, there’s a fine line between what’s happening now and being true to yourself, so you have to have a good mix.”
You can keep up with the Neon Cowgirl at sienapaglia.com.