Music » Music Features

Claudia Hoyser finds a home in country


Claudia Hoyser's star is on the rise. The 24-year-old singer and actor has attracted millions of video views on the Internet with her renditions of classic country songs, and her originals have appeared on country breakout charts. She recently sang the national anthem at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and played a show at the renowned Iridium in New York City.

Hoyser has a beautiful voice that cascades through her song's lyrics, carrying the tunes to greater heights. It's a voice that can exude strength or vulnerability as she commands tunes like "No Matter What It Costs," co-written by her manager, Tony Gross. There's everything from chasing your dreams ("Steam") to the impulse of letting loose on a Saturday night ("Drinkin' with the Boys"), and the duo's songs have connected with audiences far beyond Western New York. Glimpses of rock 'n' roll and traditional country are all rolled up in the music project, which has included writing more than 100 songs. It's an old-school approach anchored by the right ingredients, and the response has put Hoyser on the radar.

Hoyser is playing an acoustic show at The Penthouse at One East Avenue on Thursday, August 2, so CITY shot a few questions to the emerging artist. An edited transcript follows.

CITY: How's it been going so far?

Claudia Hoyser: So far the ride has been exciting and exhausting. I never know what is coming around the corner next.

Has gaining notice made things easier or more difficult?

There's a lot more to pay attention to now because the stakes are higher, but it's given me a clearer focus and it really fuels me. I am loving every bit of it.

What's a typical day like?

When I'm not on the road, I'm usually at GFI Studios by 10 a.m. just about every day. Then, after a few cups of espresso, it's go time. It seems like we're always doing a little bit of everything at the studio -- whether it's writing songs, recording the album, working radio, filming live videos, prepping for shows or keeping up with social media. We wear all the hats right now and no two days are alike.

Have you always enjoyed singing?

Always. When I was younger I remember I used to skip "girls night sleepovers" so I could record YouTube covers in my garage. I always thought it was just a hobby. I never realized we'd be here now, making this into a career.

When did you find a connection to country music?

I think country music had a bigger impact on me growing up than I realized. My poppy (grandfather) would always have it on and we used to laugh at his twangy, banjo music. Now it's really the only place my music feels at home.

How so?

Since I'm from Western New York I never thought I could compete in country music, but after working with my manager and co-writer for about a year, country music found us. An unfinished song called "No Matter What it Costs" was sent to a country music director who thought it would be competitive on radio and wanted to test it. After playing the song a few times during drive time, people started calling into the station and asking about the song. It ended up becoming my first single and even spread to the Music Row Country Breakout Charts. Country music is just a natural fit with my storytelling and sound and everybody has roots no matter where you're from.

How has your family life influenced your decision to be a singer and actor?

Luckily, I have a very supportive family. I truly don't think I could be doing this without them. They definitely have their fingers crossed and I know I can count on them to be the front row whenever I need them.

Which one do you like better?

I love both, good thing it seems like they go hand in hand most of the time. Although singing and songwriting is where my heart is.

Is there a new album coming out?

Yes. We have been trying to finish it up in between all of the craziness that's been happening. We have a book of songs in various stages, and we've been digging deep to assemble a collection that really makes a statement. We are not in a rush to release it, which has been a blessing and a curse. I am dying to show everyone. But we are constantly releasing content, like our latest single. It's called "Drinkin' with the Boys."

Where do you draw your inspiration?

They come from more places than you'd think. My co-writer and I try to pull from real life stories and situations. That could be anything, from "The hippie who never left Woodstock" to a sentence somebody says in everyday conversation.

What's something that has sparked your interest recently?

I've just met some amazing people in new places and one way or another they will shape some of my future songs even though they may not ever know it.

Describe your creative process.

One thing I know about it is that it's never ending. There's really no set way. Sometimes a line or melody pops in my head and it becomes a seed that my co-writer helps grow. Sometimes, he brings the idea and I react to it. It's always been a very reactive writing relationship. I am always feeling creative and it's the best feeling in the world to be surrounded by a team of people who feel the same way, everybody here wants to make something good happen.

Is there an artist you wish you could work with?

I would love to work with Chris Stapleton. His music has been a huge inspiration and I think we could make a pretty nice harmony.

At what point will you feel like you have finally made it?

You know, I have actually asked myself the same question. I think I am always going to feel like there is more to do and more steps to climb. I really just want a fair shot in the race and I'll do whatever I can to make it happen.