Deidre Thornell is a Natural Performer, Gracing the Stage Since Age 5

Deidre Thornell, originally from Dallas, TX, is a natural performer. Thornell first stepped on stage at five years old, and that experience would push to keep performing. Eventually, she would begin writing songs. However, she was reluctant to think of herself as a songwriter until she moved to Nashville, TN. 

The Making of a Performer

Deidre Thornell was born to be on stage. At only five years old, she stepped on stage for the first time at a school talent show. Thornell said, “The first time I got on stage, I remember looking out at all the people. It was frightening, but also cool. I remember one kid, who was performing with me, ran off stage. I wondered why he ran off.” Deidre said, “My mom and my brothers tell me I would sing everywhere. Reba would be playing in the grocery store, and I would be singing along, not even singing the right words.”

School talent shows were the avenue Deidre chose to continue performing. The singer-songwriter said, “Each year I performed in my school talent show. My mom and I would work on preparing a song each year, but sometimes I would change my mind as they got closer. I remember some of the songs had words I couldn’t pronounce, and I would get frustrated and stomp around.”

Deidre would eventually look for more opportunities to perform on stage. Thornell said, “I cried after my sixth-grade graduation, thinking I can’t only sing at school talent shows. My mom held me to her chest and said, we will figure something out.”

Deidre Thornell on stage
Deidre Thornell loves to be on stage.

Deidre Thornell and the Texas Opry Scene

The music scene in Texas is its own thing; they even have music charts. There are Opry Houses in many cities and towns in Texas. They have shows on Friday and Saturday Nights. Thornell said, “I began performing at the opry houses around Dallas. I would play the Friday or Saturday night shows in Wylie, Arlington, Grapevine, Dallas, and Magnolia, Texas. 

The singer-songwriter said, “My first audition was at Garland Opry when I was eleven years old, and I was very nervous. We went to watch the entire two-hour show. After the show, you could audition with the house band that plays every Saturday. I sang Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” and some Martina McBride song. I performed at these shows every Saturday night from age eleven to eighteen.”

In addition to Opry shows, Deidre also performed at Six Flags Over Texas. Thornell said, ” When I was fifteen, I auditioned for singing and dancing at Six Flags. I took dance lessons when I was little, but I wouldn’t consider myself a dancer. We lied about my age, but at the callbacks, they said we know you are not sixteen. However, we think you are good enough to be part of the show, and luckily, your birthday falls the same month as the hire date. I worked there for three years. It was hard to learn the choreography, but once I got it, it was solid.”

From Dallas to Nashville

During college, Deidre Thornell got a band together and began playing gigs around Dallas. However, it is was also during this time she began planning her move to the Music City. Thornell said, “When I went to college, I got a band together, but it was a struggle to keep the group together. So I hired professional musicians, but the vibe felt wrong. 

Thornell had competed in the Texaco Country Showdown from age thirteen to seventeen. The singer-songwriter said, ” Those competitions were a great experience, and I met some great people. However, I took a year off from participating in the competition, but my mom urged me to try again. The last time I competed, I made it to the top five nationally, and I got to perform at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. It was on this trip that I fell in love with Nashville and decided I wanted to move here.

Performing at the Ryman Auditorium, for many artists, is a bucket list event. It is easy to see how this was a life-changing event for Thornell. The singer-songwriter said, “Two years into college, I was in school at North Texas. I decided to leave school, and I worked for the next two years to save money for my move to Nashville. In May of 2015, I made Nashville my forever home.”

Photo by: Jared Manzo

Deidre Thornell’s Nashville Experience

Every person who moves to Nashville has their journey to complete. Each person’s experiences are similar, but what they feel can be quite different. Thornell said, “When I first moved here, I struggled. I started having breakdowns, and it was not what I expected. This town is hard, and it doesn’t matter how many connections I thought I had. I just felt so alone.”

You may be wondering what changed for Deidre Thornell? The singer-songwriter said, “I remember sitting by myself at the bar at Dawghouse Saloon. I was hoping that someone would sit down and talk to me. As I was sitting there, I overheard someone talking about Chris Young. I asked the bartender who they were, and she told me they were in Chris’s band. At that moment, I thought about how magical Nashville is. I left the bar, thinking I can do this.”

After a couple of years in town, Thornell created a songwriter’s show called Monday Night Nashville. She hosted the show at Jack Brown’s for two years, until the venue ended the show. Thornell said,  “For me, hosting the writer’s night was way to meet other songwriters and have them come to me. However, the show ended, I refocused on my music and how I wanted that to look. I went into the studio and recorded a few songs.”

Becoming a Better Songwriter

Most songwriters will credit their co-writing experiences in Nashville, with them improving their songwriting. Deidre is no exception to that, but she had a great mentor when she was younger. Thornell said, “I co-wrote my first song when I fifteen years old with Ron Grimes. Grimes had previously worked with LeAnn Rimes. Ron helped me capture what I was feeling at the time. I recorded those songs for my first album.”  

2016 to 2017 would be a big year for Thornell. The singer-songwriter said, “I signed a short-term mentoring deal with a publisher, which opened up a new level of songwriters for me. I had never considered myself a songwriter, but I gained more confidence in my writing. I began booking co-writes for myself, and going to writer’s nights and asking people to write with me. Songwriting is a new found love for me.”

Deidre Thornell's Keep On Loving Me cover art
Cover Art by: Deidre Thornell and Photo Credit to Jaren Manzo

Deidre Thornell Releases a new single, “Keep on Loving Me.”

On April 10, 2020, Deidre Thornell released “Keep on Loving Me.” The single is the follow up to her EP “Dallas.” I find the song easy to relate to, and Thornell’s vocals soar. She beautifully sings the lyrics with power and emotion. The singer-songwriter said, “The song came from my dating experiences. I had been dating different people until I met this guy I could not get out of my mind. So I began to wonder what it would look like if I entered a relationship with this guy.”

Thornell said, “I sat down to write the song, and I was playing guitar. I knew how I wanted the song to sound, and I could hear the chord progressions. My guitar skill is still limited, so I brought in Dave Issacs as a co-writer to finish the song. Sean Giovanni at The Record Shop produced the single.

Lyric Video for “Keep on Loving Me” was released April 27, 2020

Thanks to Social Distancing, We Discovered Deidre Thornell

Undiscovered Nashville launched almost a year and a half ago. Somehow, Deidre Thornell and I have not crossed paths until we had to stay at home. Discovering her music and her voice was a positive development of our social distancing time. We are so thankful Deidre persevered through her first year in town, and we look forward to what the singer-songwriter brings us in the future. Follow Deidre on her social media, and check out her new single and lyric video. 

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