Kendal Conrad, a native of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, blew us away with her latest single, “Bodyguard.” This current single is a follow up to “Come to Your Senses” and “Leader of the Pack.” Undiscovered Nashville was thrilled to talk with Conrad about her path to the Music City, songwriting, and her music.
Kendal Conrad’s Musical Beginning
Of all the singer-songwriters I have talked to, most will tell you of a moment when they realized they wanted to try to make it in the music business. However, Conrad said, “I don’t remember that moment, but I always liked music. I don’t think there was any discovery or enlightenment. I remember listening to the radio and singing along. That’s probably my first memory.
Conrad’s journey in music is not uncommon, but one of her experiences stood out to me. I asked the singer-songwriter what started them down their path. Conrad said, “That’s another tough question. I don’t remember ever wanting to do anything else. Her story is typical when it comes to joining the church and school choir, but I bet what she said next is atypical, but adorable. The singer-songwriter continued, “I had a portable boombox with a CD player, and I would put my CDs in and go out to the barn with the chickens and horses. I remember taking my CD player out there every day to perform for the animals. I don’t think there was a moment where I thought I should make this a career; it just was.”
Kendal Conrad’s fanbase grew beyond the barn to the area surrounding Pottstown. Kendal said, “In high school, I taught myself guitar and bought a bunch of equipment from Sam Ash. I started gigging with me and my guitar, playing acoustic shows around where I grew up in Pottstown. Teaching guitar changed the game for me, and it allowed me to start writing songs.”
Inspirations and Progressions of a Songwriter
Every songwriter has a story about what inspired them to start writing songs, and as they continue to write, their lyrics and sound continue to evolve. Conrad said, “At first, I mimicked Taylor Swift when I started writing. I would write what I called pop/country ditties about boys in my class. At that time, that’s what was going on. Life experiences can be limited as a teenager, so you write what you know.
Taylor Swift has inspired many young women to become songwriters, but Conrad learned from Swift. The singer-songwriter said, “She taught me how to write songs. I studied how she would play her guitar and how she got into verses. I studied her pre-choruses and chord structures by learning her songs.”
As a songwriter grows, their lyrics and subject matter progress. Conrad said, “Now, my songs feel like me, authentically me. The three songs I released are personal things I have experienced. I mean all the lyrics that I say in those songs. The sound is the way I want with heavy bass and beats. “Come to Your Senses” doesn’t even have real drums in it, and it’s coupled with a country lyric. I love having a fiddle, mandolin, or a banjo too. That’s so far from when I started writing songs.”
The Evolution of a Performer
Kendal Conrad has come a long way since she was singing to the animals in the barn. You can tell she spent a lot of time on stage. As a result, she continues to grow her fanbase. Conrad has been splitting time between Nashville and Pennsylvania for the past four years. She spends her time in Pennsylvania playing gigs, and while in Nashville, she focuses on writing and occasionally playing a show. I first saw Kendal playing at The Row in Nashville, and I have been a fan ever since.
Conrad was not afraid to ask people if she could play. The singer-songwriter said, “I started playing at small bars and restaurants. I would go and ask, can I play here. From there, it grew to bigger places and bigger venues. Conrad continued, “Now, I have a pretty big fan base around Pottstown. It’s fun to see them keep coming our and they know my setlist now.”In Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, she played Musikfest, which included a duet with Keith Urban on his “Raise Em’ Up” Tour.
Kendal was chosen to perform “We Were Us” with Urban. Conrad looked like she belonged on the big stage. She described what that experience was like for her. The singer-songwriter said, “It feels surreal that it happened like I walked through a dream and walked out of it. It was one of the best nights of my entire life.”
Kendal’s Favorite Thing about Songwriting/Performing
Songwriters take an idea and turn it into a song. Their creations can put you in a good mood or get you in your feels, but I always wonder they love the most. Kendal said, “This may be superficial, but my favorite thing about songwriting is coming up with a clever hook. I don’t know if it’s because I was a double major in English and Theatre when I was in college. However, if I come up with something clever and witty, that’s going to make people think I haven’t heard that said before.”
As it relates to her performing, Conrad said, “Maybe it’s because of my theatre background, but I enjoy performing for people. I like to see them get into it and dancing along with my songs. After every show, I can’t wait to do it again.
Kendal Conrad: Behind the Music
In the past year, Conrad has released three songs. “Come to Your Senses” was released last summer. It’s a relatable pop/country song detailing a scene in which we have all found ourselves. Imagine standing across the room from someone you like, and hoping they will see you. “Leader of the Pack” is an empowering song that reminds us hardship will make us stronger if we are open to learning the lesson. Kendal Conrad’s latest single, “Bodyguard,” is a song about betrayal. Every marriage or relationship begins with a promise to protect the other person, but the sting of betrayal is excruciating.
Kendal explains her thinking behind “Leader of the Pack” and “Bodyguard.” Conrad said, “At the time, the situations I wrote the song about when I think back on it, I was so miserable. When you reach out to people that you rely on or believe you can trust, and they are not there for you, it’s like they’ve thrown you to the wolves. I have experienced many situations like that, and at the time, I felt so weak. However, now I feel stronger for it.”
Kendal Conrad Releases “Bodyguard”
On May 22nd, Kendal Conrad released her latest single, “Bodyguard.” Conrad co-wrote the song with Matt McVaney and Sharen Conrad. McVaney also produced the song. The day “Bodyguard” was released, I listened to this song at least ten times in a row. It put me into a situation from my life, and the feeling of betrayal from someone who promised to protect my heart. The singer-songwriter said, “The idea for “Bodyguard” was not the melody, it was the lyrics. I was thinking about the word, bodyguard, and how bodyguards take the job and swear to protect their client no matter what. They will take the bullet.
Conrad used the idea of a bodyguard to draw an analogy of a failed relationship. Kendal said, “It’s like when you are in a romantic relationship, and the person takes an oath to be there and protect you. It’s similar to a bodyguard. I find it ironic that every person I’ve dated who has promised that to me, wound up hurting me and breaking my heart. That’s how the song came about.
When I heard the song, it felt like an old Whitney Houston power ballad. Conrad said, “It’s funny you mentioned it sounded like a Whitney throwback. I studied the big power ballads from that era. If you noticed, they all have accusatory lyrics. I thought if I am going to do this, I am going to do it right. I wanted my song to have confrontational lyrics.” When you listen to the song, you will hear those lyrics. The imagery will take you into the situation portrayed in the song.
Fun Facts about Kendal Conrad and Future Plans
If you follow Kendal Conrad on Instagram, then you know she is a Foodie. I jokingly told her that I gain weight every time she posts a picture of something delicious. A lesser-known fact about Kendal Conrad is she is a gamer. Conrad said, “I am a huge fan of Playstation games, mainly Kingdom Hearts and the Bioshock series. I like the story plots. When I stop playing, I wonder what will happen next.
Kendal Conrad plans to release two more songs in 2020, and that excites Undiscovered Nashville. The next release will complete her project. In the meantime, dive into the music she has released so far. Covid-19 permitting, Kendal will be performing in Pennsylvania and hopefully Nashville. It has been too long since I have seen her perform live.