…The challenges women face in the industry. At the beginning of my music career, I was trying to make it in pop-country and I was writing amazing songs, but no one would bat an eye at me because I wasn’t bro-country. There were so many powerhouse female artists making amazing music and no one gave them the attention they deserved.
As a part of our series about Nashville’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Tahne Jo Stillwell.
Anthemic music, dynamic vocals, and compelling lyrics with a Pop sound sprinkled with traces of R&B, TAHNE’s music spreads love and invokes change. Tahne Jo Stillwell, an American singer-songwriter, was born in Wisconsin and wholly absorbed into music. TAHNE found herself in foster care and the system at a young age, and through these trials, she cherished music as her empowering and reliable companion.Forming her first band in 2005, she was encouraged to continue writing leading to her first solo project, “Hear Me” (2008) and four succeeding projects: “Love is Loud” (2010), “Living Proof” (2013), “Knight in Shining Armor” (2016), and “Think of Me” (2019). “Knight in Shining Armor” charted in the DJ Top Ten downloads in New Zealand and Japan as well as 400k views and streams and “Think of Me” surpassed 100k views and streams internationally. Prior to moving to Nashville in the Summer 2018, TAHNE collaborated with and was mentored by Paul Worley, David Hodges, Sean Garrett, and others. TAHNE most recently worked with Grammy Award-winning producer-songwriter Shannon Sanders (John Legend, India Arie, Johnny Lang, Jesse McCartney) on her sixth studio project, “Clarity” which released March 26, 2021. Fully reawakened, TAHNE has found empowerment and honesty through this project that is fresh, thought-provoking, and exposed. Songs formulated by TAHNE’s experiences and reopened wounds shape this unprecedented record.
Thank you so much for joining us in this series! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit of the ‘backstory’ of how you grew up?
I was born in a small town in Wisconsin. By the time I was 11, I was in foster care due to familial circumstances. At 14, I was in juvenile prison and was sentenced to five years, but I ended up getting out in 9 months because of someone who really impacted my life in a powerful way. After a year of being in a treatment facility to transition me back into the real world after being institutionalized, I was placed in a foster home that changed my life. They showed me the love that I needed and they pushed me. They gave me so much hope and they believed in me. I went to twelve different schools growing up, and I was in and out of so many different homes, but once you have the right people surrounding you, anything is possible.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
The story of overcoming hardships and becoming the person I am has been a driving factor in my music.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
One time I went to see Paul Worley, and I had written several new songs that he wanted me to sing for him. I was meeting him at Warner Chapel when Lady A walked through the door. I was waiting for them to leave before I sang, but they wanted to hear me as well. They were so amazed it was an interesting experience. It was so organic and empowering to have the courage to sing in front of people at that level at that point in my career. It was a big moment for me when it came to my confidence.
Can you share with us a few of the best parts of living in Nashville? We’d love to hear some specific examples or stories about that.
The first time I came to Nashville was in 2008, and I loved how it was such a little big town. Their energy is very welcoming and homey which was important for me. Nashville is truly a genuine city filled with genuine people and such an interesting melting pot of people and talent.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
That’s a challenging question because I don’t really believe in mistakes. I think that everything we do we believe is right in the moment. I don’t see them as mistakes but as learning curves. The most important lesson I’ve learned in music to be truly authentic and follow my mission for the greater good. I needed all of those learning curves to have the wisdom that I do now.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There have been so many people along my journey, but my husband comes to mind first. He has been there the whole time helping me, pushing me, and not letting me give up. Self-belief is challenging in the entertainment industry, so to have people like that by your side makes it possible.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I just released a new single, “Clarity” in March, and I am filming this week for two new projects which are dropping this summer. We are also filming for another project that is coming out sooner than that. It’s definitely going to be something that you aren’t expecting.https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/d829de9a596ddf8fce52cdb3b256c846
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Share a story or example for each.
- You are enough. It’s not even a specific story or example, but every person I have worked with along the way or have talked to has never said “this is enough”. Every time there is critique and people input their opinion. I’ve come to realize that everyone has their own personal opinion and there is value to listening to the advice but you don’t have to do everything that someone says.
- It takes time. I knew it would take time but I definitely didn’t think it would take 15 years. I thought that someone would take me under their wing and help me along the way, I never expected to have to do so much on my own.
- It takes an incredible amount of perseverance. You really have to believe in yourself, and if you don’t, no one will. When you look for people’s acceptance you are already wrong. We all have to learn, but you have to fully, fully, fully believe in it and if you don’t you aren’t ready.
- How expensive it would be. I had no idea how much money would go into marketing, vocal lessons, production, etc… I look at it as college and I’ve just had to pay along the way.
- The challenges women face in the industry. At the beginning of my music career, I was trying to make it in pop-country and I was writing amazing songs, but no one would bat an eye at me because I wasn’t bro-country. There were so many powerhouse female artists making amazing music and no one gave them the attention they deserved.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Do it with purpose and intention. It’s not easy, but when you’re really authentic in who you are and work really hard you’ll find your success. It’s important to be passionate about what you do and if you’re not fully invested then what’s the point.
If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
If I could inspire a movement, it would be to up the people through unity, equality, and love. I would want all people to come together to encourage love, freedom, and choice.
What is your favorite “life lesson” or quote? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Always, always, always believe in yourself, because if you don’t, then who will, Sweetie?” — Marilyn Monroe. I have that quote tattooed on my body because if you don’t believe in yourself no one else will. Ultimately you have yourself to look at, thank, hate, love, and be proud of. I choose to believe in myself.
If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
My answer is always going to be Oprah. She is a real inspiration. I listen to her interviews and speeches, and I truly believe that she is an incredibly profound human being who has put the work in. I would just love for her to pour her wisdom over me. It would be such a strong moment of growth to have a conversation with someone so thought-provoking, and I believe it would elevate me as a songwriter by giving me more perspective.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can find me @tahneofficial on all social platforms and at my website tahne.com. Come follow me and get with the move so that we can up the people together.