Over a nine-month span, 22-year-old singer/songwriter Sydney Adams has diligently worked on her five-song project, and she’s ready to showcase all of her talents on her biggest platform yet.
Adams, of Corbin, is releasing her debut EP, “Always Home to Me,” on Friday on all streaming platforms.
For the EP, Adams worked with Matt McQueen and Dustin Lambdin of Gem City Studios out of Jellico, Tennessee. McQueen’s connections allowed Adams to work with many talented Nashville musicians she wouldn't have had the opportunity to collaborate with otherwise, like Smith Curry, who's played for Kid Rock before.
Gem City Studio was a natural fit for Adams whose father is from Newcomb, a community just outside of Jellico.
“I’ve always been down that way,” said Adams. “I had no idea that there was a studio down there.”
It was a little over a year ago when Adams' mother reached out to Gem City about recording.
Shortly after that, Adams began discussions with McQueen and Lambdin about the direction her EP would go.
“Everything turned out exactly like I wanted it,” said Adams about the production process.
One of the things that is unique about McQueen and Gem City is that he’s crafted a way to partner with local musicians or ones he’s connected with in Nashville to get the right people to play on a recording so that it sounds like any other commercial release.
McQueen said with the accessibility of home technology over the last decade, people are turning out decent products but it’s not professional high-level products.
Gem City offers high-quality professional services in audio and video recording, with a goal to meet clients before they start a project and come up with what is affordable for them. They seek out unsigned talent, bands, churches, and new startups with a desire to see something big grow from something small.
“I certainly don’t claim to be the best, but around here there’s nobody else that’s offering the service I offer,” McQueen said. “I try to be a full-fledged, full-commercial studio that’s not in Nashville.”
McQueen, a member of the Grammy Recording Academy, has worked hard to make Nashville connections both on his own time and while he was working for a producer in Los Angeles.
This year, McQueen is nominated for Music Producer of the Year for the Josie Music Awards, a music awards event for independent and unsigned artists.
As for Adams, McQueen said the thing that has always impressed him about her was her work ethic and drive.
“There are more established artists that aren’t working as hard as she’s working,” McQueen said. “Obviously she's a great vocal talent, so when you pair hard working with naturally gifted, that’s a one, two punch that is unstoppable."
Adams said she believes the songs on “Always Home to Me” are representative of who she is as an artist, as some of the songs are perfected versions of works she wrote when she was as young as 16.
The music Adams grew up around has greatly influenced her sound and she wears these on her sleeve when making music in an interesting mix.
“My heritage here in Kentucky and through the Appalachian Mountains is extremely deep and strong and I’m very proud of that,” Adams said. “My mom is from Bell County and I grew up listening to coal camps songs and just anything in between and what my mom listened to, which is soul music.”
Adams stays so busy it’s hard to imagine how she can balance everything in her life. She is a full-time student at Eastern Kentucky University who works part-time, all while performing gigs, recording songs, rehearsing, and writing music.
Adams said she wouldn't be able to do it without her parents who are always willing to drive her to gigs and remind her when her events are.
With a full band and EP, Adams hopes this is the next big step in her career, and said she has put a lot of love and hard work into making the album.
Adams can be seen playing this Saturday, the night after her EP comes out, at the Austin City Saloon in Corbin with a full band.
This isn’t Adams' first time at Austin City though. She played at the Lexington venue a while back.
“The first time I played Austin City, I tried so hard to get in,” she admitted. “But they’re pretty selective especially in Lexington because they have such a credible name for country music in Kentucky.”
Adams said she first played there on a ladies songwriting night, and she was invited by her friend. When a bartender there heard her voice, she was invited to open for Dillion Carmichael. The show sold out. This will be Adams' third performance at the Corbin venue.
Adams is really excited to see what the future holds and how people respond to the release.
“I think it’s going to be very beneficial and exciting,” said Adams. “If there’s one thing I want people to know it’s that growing my fan base locally is one of the largest pieces to the success that I will have in the coming time of the release.”