Multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, actress, and singer, Mandy Pennington has a lot of show business talent. Growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, Mandy began taking music lessons at the young age of seven years old, and has been hooked ever since. She has been classically trained in the violin for seven years, the piano for ten, and voice for eight. After graduating from Greenville University in 2018, Mandy has been working very hard to put herself on the map.
From playing with church worship teams, to being a musical theater star, to writing poetry, Mandy decided to put all of her amazing talents together and become a singer-songwriter in Music City. Mandy released her debut album entitled, “Kindling,” in 2016. She has released three EPs since then, and has a single on the way as we speak. She has a passion for “feel good” music that shines through both in her voice and her songwriting.
Mandy has a pop piano sound with lyrics that make you laugh, think, and feel something warm inside. She believes in the healing power of music, and it is her mission to put as much music out there as she can to reach people’s hearts, in hopes to create joy in their lives. Mandy has formed her own band in Louisville, but frequents Nashville for performing and recording. You might just catch her with her band around town, or at a songwriting round.
Music Mecca: What do you like most about the Louisville music scene, and how might it compare to Nashville?
Mandy Pennington: Louisville vs. Nashville just as cities are strikingly different. Here in Louisville, there’s more of a calmness, a peace, you could say, in comparison to the hustle and bustle of the ever-moving city of Nashville. However, Louisville is so passionate about its arts and its artists, which is something I love. The Sofar show I played in Louisville was my favorite show yet, just because of how supportive and interested the listeners were. I think it’s a huge asset to any artist to be in a city that is not so oversaturated with music, so that you’re something special to its inhabitants.
MM: How did growing up in church life shape your artistic career today?
MP: I’ve played on worship teams for as long as I can remember, and that shaped me and continues to shape me irreplaceably. I learned how to play chord charts, how to incorporate rhythm into my piano playing, how to fit into a band…plus, a big part of being a musician is just practice, and playing every Sunday for over ten years was experience and exposure that I am so glad I had! Plus, in the church I learned to accept myself and my talents as gifts from God.
MM: It must’ve been difficult choosing between musical theater and being a songwriter. What swayed you towards the latter?
MP: Yes, until I was sixteen or so, my dream was to be on Broadway. I just LOVE the way musical theater songs are written, and how you can just get so swept up in the emotions of the music and the characters. It’s storytelling, which is my first love. Anyways, when I was fifteen I tried out for Beauty and the Beast and I had my heart set on Belle, and I didn’t get my dream role. I realized in the weeks that followed, as I basked in devastation, that I probably wasn’t cut out for a life of constantly auditioning and constant rejection. That plus the fact that I can’t really dance really settled it for me, and soon after I developed my love for songwriting even further. If I was an actress on Broadway, I would get to tell someone else’s story every night, but as a songwriter, I get to create my own, which is pretty cool.
MM: What would you say makes you stand out among the countless other singer/songwriters doing the same thing?
MP: I get asked this question a lot, and it’s a really hard one to answer! I would say that everyone is unique in that everyone has their own story to tell through their songs. My story is one of pain and growth through that pain. I really want to help others see the hope in heartbreak, and write songs that others can relate to. Music isn’t just personal; it’s universal.
MM: You just released your latest single, “Getting Better.” What’s the inspiration behind this song?
MP: Well, Getting Better is a pop anthem for girls who want to stop putting themselves in bad relationships and try to “get better.” It’s all about how, as the chorus says, “love makes you do crazy things.” I’m all for self-improvement and always strive to become a better person, whether that’s in reference to strength, mental health, or being more in control of my emotions. I think this track paints the picture of a strong woman who finally realizes the pattern of bad relationships and mistakes she’s made, has finally escaped, and is “telling the guy off” in a way. I love bringing a little sass to my work, and this song definitely has that.
MM: How does this song differ from previous releases, and what do you like most about it?
MP: This song is stylistically different than my previously releases, probably pushing the pop envelope a little more. The majority of my songs are slower-tempo ballads with really piercing lyrics. This one is a lot more fun, with still a dose of hard-hitting truth, but presented in a lighter, more upbeat way.
MM: Can fans expect a full-length album, and/or perhaps a tour?
MP: Beginning in the fall I’m hoping to do some weekend tours, particularly house shows and Sofar shows. As far as the full length album goes…I’m coming out with three singles this summer and then at the end of the year hope to raise enough support through a Kickstarter to launch a new project. We’ll see!
MM: What do you hope to have achieved 5 years from now?
MP: You know, a while back I made my 10-year music goals, and in five years those are supposed to be coming true. I think I had on there that I hoped to have opened for Sara Bareilles or Ingrid Michaelson (my idols), recorded multiple more full-length projects, been recognized by some sort of indie music awards organization, etc…I think I’m accepting now, though, that the music path is different for everyone, and the things I thought were success yesterday I consider differently today. In five years, if I’m still making music that I love, being filled up by writing, immersed in the music community, and am surrounded by family, friends, and fans, I’d say that’s a win for me.
MM: If you weren’t playing music, what could you see yourself doing?
MP: In college, I also did an English major. I really like writing and editing in all capacities. I could see myself being a poet, a journalist, an editor, maybe even a playwright…in another dimension where I had more patience, I would totally be a professional cake decorator.
For more info on Mandy, check out her website HERE.