Talent, passion and youthful exuberance are always a potent recipe for great music, but when you add message-driven lyrics, a finely tuned sense of purpose and five fun-loving girls, therein lays the foundation for an explosive new entry on the cultural landscape. 1 Girl Nation (1GN) delivers an ear-grabbing, effervescent sound that uplifts audiences by merging engaging melodies with substantive yet catchy lyrics, packing a one-two punch with considerable impact.
1 Girl Nation is made up of five talented young women, each possessing a strong, distinctive voice and tons of personality. "The really cool thing about the group is all five of us are individual people," says Lindsey. "We have individual looks and styles and our voices are different. A big part of our message is that five completely different girls can come together and be unified and sound like one. We're driven by our over-the-top, fun personalities. We have a blast!"
Each member of 1 Girl Nation had been pursuing separate musical careers when they heard about a unique opportunity to audition for a faith based, all-female pop group. They decided to try out and see where the open door would lead, and through a series of events, all were distinctly chosen to make up the group.
"We couldn't imagine doing this journey alone," says Kayli, who grew up on military bases all over the world due to her father's career in the Air Force, settling in Orlando, Florida. "I was already an artist on my own and heard about the audition for this group and thought it was the perfect fit. It's such an incredible experience. We're sisters. More than friends, we're family and it's just amazing."
The 1 Girl Nation musical family also includes Lauryn Taylor, a 21-year-old from Birmingham, Alabama who heard about the opportunity from a friend who works inside the music industry; Kelsey, a Chicago, Illinois native with a degree in music education; Carmen, a singer/dancer who grew up in the Nashville area and attended famed Belmont University and the youngest member of the group, Lindsey, a pastor's kid who hails from Jacksonville, Florida.
"I was leading worship there and teaching K4," Lindsey says of life before 1GN. "I'm overwhelmingly honored and blessed to be a part of a group of so many talented people."
For Kelsey, 1 Girl Nation was the catalyst that changed her direction and her outlook. "I was in a tough place when I heard about this group. I was trying to get my life back together emotionally and spiritually. I was just very broken. My local Christian radio station, WBGL, called and encouraged me to audition. After submitting the application, I got the call saying I was one of 15 girls chosen to come to Nashville. They told us to pack for five days. I packed for two days because I thought for sure I'd be going home. I made the group. I didn't have anything to wear, so I ended up wearing a bunch of clothes from the other girls," she says with a laugh. "God knows what He's doing and He doesn't make mistakes. I do, but He doesn't . It was ordained that I be here. There's a purpose and I feel God gave me a second chance. It's been a really great blessing."
That bold sense of purpose and genuine affection for each other informs the music of 1 Girl Nation. Its influences range from the country sounds of Vince Gill and Alan Jackson that Kayli listened to as a child to Stacie Orrico and Kelly Clarkson, who are among Carmen's favorites. Lauryn Taylor says her family listened to Steven Curtis Chapman and Michael W. Smith. Kelsey says those artists were also favorites in her home along with Rachael Lampa, 4Him and ZOEgirl. Lindsey smiles as she recalls being "obsessed with Jump5" and has always been a big Amy Grant fan.
Indeed there's a sense of fun and a musically adventurous spirit that is pervasive throughout 1 Girl Nation's debut, self-titled album. The title track, co-written by Lauryn Taylor and Lindsey, is a buoyant anthem sure to get audiences on their feet as the girls declare their mission.
"Lauryn and I wrote "1 Girl Nation" with Barry Weeks and this is our theme song," says Lindsey. "It's our message. It encourages girls to stop all the gossiping and trash talk, but come together, be strong, and live for their faith. Come together as a 1 Girl Nation. Our message is unifying the generation that's rising. When we sat down to write the song, we talked about what our name meant to us and thought, "Let's just write it down so no one has a question."
The group co-wrote more than half of the album, collaborating with such noted writers as Jason Ingram, Kipp Williams, Tony Wood and others. "We had a huge hand in the writing and song selection process," says Lauryn Taylor. ìI feel like our hearts are definitely in this album. It's our stories."
Those stories evolved into songs that carry powerful messages about finding identity in Christ and not in the things of this world as well as encouraging people to lean on God during times of struggle. "In the Eyes" reminds listeners "You are treasured/You are beautiful/In the eyes, in the eyes/Of the one who made you." "As a girl group it was really important to us that there be a song that addresses self-image," says Kelsey. "For our generation, that's one of the most difficult things that girls face every day. I know that for each one us, we've all been there. We've all experienced those feelings. We've all looked at those magazines. We've all wanted to be that girl in that picture. You don't need to be defined by the things that the world tells you that you need to be defined by. The message of this song is: "You are a treasure. You are beautiful and that's the truth."
"While We're Young" the groups first radio single, encourages young people to make the right choices early in life. "There are a lot of songs on the radio today that say, "Let's live while we're young, just do whatever and take it day by day. You only live once," says Kayli. "It's fun, but it's only fun for a short amount of time. We wanted to put our own spin on that idea and say, "While we're young we want to live out our faith and bring the message to young girls that you only live once, so why not live for Christ?"
"Count Your Rainbows" î is an uplifting reminder that rainy days don't last and beauty begins right after the pain." "I wrote that one with Casey Brown and Jonathan Smith," says Lauryn Taylor, who sings lead on the tune. "While writing it, we were thinking about the young girls and their mom's that are going to be listening to our music so it really took me back in thinking about my mom and the things she taught me growing up. One of the main things she taught me was to think on the things that are good, pure and lovely. Whenever a situation goes bad or there are negative things happening, count your blessings. Another cool way to say that is to count your rainbows."
Each member gets a chance to shine on its debut. Carmen takes the lead on "Turn Around" while Kayli takes on "Vertical" and Kelsey steps out on "In the Eyes" and throughout the album, each member's unique talents sizzle. However, even in the midst of all the fun, the dance moves and overall musical joyride that is 1 Girl Nation, the group members hope listeners will also take to heart the messages in their music. "We feel like it's our job with the platform we've been given to inspire girls and give them the courage to stand up," says Kelsey. "We want to be the voice for those girls who don't have one. We want to give them the courage to say, "Iím strong. I'm empowered to live out what I believe." We want to make it cool to be the good girl because it is cool and we want to let them know."
1 Girl Nation wants to encourage and inspire its audience, but ultimately they want to lead them to the source of all power. "The whole point of everything that we do is to bring more people into the Kingdom of Christ," says Kayli. "We were given these talents, abilities, tools, opportunities and platforms to get people to know the name of Jesus and thatís the only reason why we do what we do. It's a fun life and we get to play out our dreams because of the talent God has given us, but it all goes back to Him."