A unique childhood split between the glitz and glamor of Los Angeles’ entertainment industry with summers spent in Star Valley, Wyoming, has given Tanner Adell a unique approach to country music.
“It’s made me the artist that I am today, which is a hundred percent glam country,” explained Adell, who mentioned acting and modeling at a young age. “I absolutely love western wear and western fashion, and I absolutely love high fashion as well. Combining both worlds has been so fun for me, but I don’t see how I could have ended up anywhere else.”
Riding her first horse at six months old, Adell grew up attending demolition derbys, watching her mom live as a rodeo queen, and being introduced to country music. That latter moment would happen in her mid-teen years when she discovered Keith Urban’s “Somebody Like You” track from the soundtrack of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.
“I remember learning all of the words to that song, and I became a huge Keith Urban fan and being like this is what country music is,” Adell said. “I was unknowingly loving country music.”
The singer/songwriter leaned more into music as she grew into an adult through former piano training, teaching herself how to play the guitar, and entering Utah Valley University’s commercial music program. It all accumulated in Adell moving to Nashville in 2021 to pursue a career as a country music artist. Eventually, growing a social media following through live performances and a steady stream of other content, she signed to Columbia Records.
Adell’s profile in country music has risen significantly since then, thanks to a more culturally progressive take on the genre. Her viral major label debut single “Honkey Tonk Heartbreak” was eventually used as a routine song for the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders around early 2022. Over a year later, a handful of singles like “FU-150,” “Throw It Back,” and “I Hate Texas” have further grown her fanbase. However, the release of “Buckle Bunny” has taken her into new territories of going viral. A single inspired by the term either used to respectfully describe women who love dressing up and going to rodeos or to regard those women as rodeo groupies disrespectfully, there’s a very “in-your-face” appeal that wouldn’t be too different in modern R&B and Hip Hop tracks from women bucking misogynistic notions.
“People started calling women Buckle Bunnies to try and break their spirits or tear them down or whatever for wanting to look cute,” said Adell. “I’ve been called a Buckle Bunny multiple times. So, for me, it was a no-brainer. I wanted to take the term and turn it on its head into something fun.”
Furthering that idea, Adell sings an interesting line: “Looking like Beyonce with a lasso on.” Adell explained her love for Queen Bey as someone she sincerely looks up to. “When I think about the kind of career that I have, the kind of community that I want to create and the strength of that community in sisterhood, Beyonce is the model for that,” said Adell. “I feel like she raised me.”
The song has pushed her to 360,000 followers on Instagram, TikTok and Twitter. “Buckle Bunny” has become a modern bull riding anthem for many women nationwide, including the Buckle Bunny women of the PBR Bars chains. Adell was so impressed by some Baltimore women from the chain who created videos that she even started a group chat with them. “There are a couple of girls out of Baltimore who I have a little group chat with, and I love them,” she said. “They created some incredible content of them riding mechanical bulls at the PBR Bars. That’s my favorite piece of content I’ve seen that has come out of this song.”
“Buckle Bunny” is the singular title of her debut album, which crosses many genres and themes when it dropped on July 21. This includes the banger “Trailer Park Barbie ” which finds her interpolating moments of T.I. classic “U Don’t Know Me” and K-Pop group Blackpink’s “Ddu-Ddu Ddu-Du.” Though Adell is adopted, she eventually met her biological parent, including her father who she describes as a “rapper in the nineties in Atlanta.” For her, hip-hop is just as much of her DNA as country. Meanwhile, Adell admires K-pop culture and their community. Then there’s another Buckle Bunny standout, “See You In Church,” where she sings, “I’m like a Grace Kelly in a cowboy hat / But a little extra party in my attitude / Make you wanna say that you love me too soon” before a chorus of “Friday, gon’ meet somе men / Saturday, kissin’ on my new boyfriend /Sunday, yеah, the Lord comes first / If I missed you last night, mm, then I’ll see you in church.”
Before a music career, Adell was a former Mormon who completed a two-year mission commitment in Stockholm, Sweden. Even as a buzzing music star, she recounts where faith has taken her. “I’ve always had very strong faith in a higher power and the patience to understand that there’s a plan and timing for everything,” Adell explained. “Having a spiritual foundation has gotten me through those really hard moments.”
No doubt Black women are making huge waves in country music. For Adell, it’s exciting to watch the genre evolve into the moment where she can call other Black women country artists like Brittney Spencer and Mickey Guyton peers and confidants. Though her more glamorous take on genre may be frowned upon by naysayers, Adell stands out and hopes country music culture will allow women like her to keep knocking down barriers.
“We’re so close,” said Adell. “It felt like it’s been needed for a very long time. I hope we can move forward to where there will be more women of color who are not afraid to join the country conversation.”