Exclusive: Go Behind The Scenes of Kelleigh Bannen’s Whirlwind Week at SXSW!

There comes a time when big things cross our paths, life changing things. That happened here at Variety Beat the moment we met Kelleigh Bannen back in 2012, who has since become not only our favorite artist, but favorite person. Bannen was instantly able to connect with fans, and to this day, stays after shows to take pictures, sign autographs and most importantly, connect with others. It’s that desire to connect and stay connected that sets her apart from others.



Bannen has made it her craft to connect with her audience and view them not just as fans, but as those she can learn from and experience real life with. She’s come to realize that you can’t be authentic if you’re hiding parts of your life and bares all on her podcast This Nashville Life and her new single “Church Clothes.”

‘The Strength of The Bannenite’ – Why You Should Invest In Country Artist Kelleigh Bannen


Bannen recently spent some time in Austin, TX for SXSW (SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries). We have an exclusive look at Bannen’s week at SXSW and have included photos she’s shared on social media that provide even more pizazz to what looked like an incredible time!



Fringe matters.

Shaking my way through @sxsw with @pandora. 💅🏻

A post shared by Kelleigh Bannen (@kelleighbannen) on


Bannen told Variety Beat about her week at SXSW, saying:

“I had a blast in Texas for my first official SXSW.  The shows were high energy; the fans were genuinely there to discover new music. Austin was weird, wonderful, and hopelessly without national rideshare options. It was a crazy couple of days and I loved it.”


While there, Bannen recorded a live podcast, played various shows promoting her new single “Church Clothes” and even held a Facebook live!

Thanks @facebook 👍🏼❤️😲

A post shared by Kelleigh Bannen (@kelleighbannen) on


Bannen’s single “Church Clothes” was best described by Grady Smith, who reacts to Music Video’s in real-time. He asked what the purpose of the song was since it wasn’t a breakup song or an “I love you” song and said the purpose of “Church Clothes” is for the audience; a confession from the artist and for the good of the people listening. He said it’s a real song and Country Music can always use more real (can we get an amen?)

Kelleigh Bannen Releases The Most Powerful and Honest Single of the Year “Church Clothes” – Listen


Here’s what other artists are saying about “Church Clothes” which was written by Liz Rose and Nicolle Gaylon.







Get “Church Clothes” on iTunes, amazon, google play, spotify


Kelleigh Bannen Releases The Most Powerful and Honest Single of the Year “Church Clothes” – Listen

The thing about Variety Beat is, we don’t review every single that gets released. (Praise be to the powerhouse outlets that have that capability.) Instead, we bring you the music that touches us most, the artists we connect with because we believe they can make a difference in your life, like they’ve made a difference in ours. Kelleigh Bannen is not just another amazing artist/singer/songwriter. She’s an amazing human being and that is why we champion her music. She’s the type of person you wish you had in your life, a person you would be proud to know. A person who isn’t afraid to be vulnerable and honest, a person who takes risks even if it’s not the safe route, because she believes in the power of music and it’s healing capabilities.

Several years ago, Bannen came across a song called “Church Clothes” written by GRAMMY award-winning songwriter Liz Rose and Nicolle Galyon. It’s a song filled with so much vulnerability and something that makes people uncomfortable to talk about in the “church scene.” The song follows the storyline of a couple struggling to stay together, a couple that no longer communicates, that fights all the time, but they show up to church on Sundays, just like they’re supposed to and put on their Sunday best.


The lyrics have so much power in them because they come from such a broken place. They ask the questions, what would people think if they knew what was really happening? That’s a real fear when people are going through a hard time, possibly heading towards a divorce. What is everyone going to think? On the outside, people can look so happy, have it all put together, and yet on the inside they are crying out for help, for love, for someone who understands what they are going through.

That’s what this song does. It offers an understanding for others who don’t have it all together, who don’t have the perfect marriage, who have been through or are going through things that others would look down upon. It takes courage and bravery to open up about what’s really happening and this song gives people that courage. To say “I’m not alone, other people are also going through this.” It’s something so difficult and painful, but it can hurt a little less if you can be honest about what’s going on.

Bannen brings that vulnerability out when she sings the words as if she’s lived them. There are pauses in each line that allow us to feel the pain she’s singing about. It’s difficult to say the words, because it’s difficult to live them.

A pressed shirt, you tuck it in / You tie your tie, tie it again / I put a little curl in my hair / Pink on my cheeks, barely there / A proper skirt, hits at the knee / A good sweater in wintergreen / You shake the keys, downstairs / I hit the lights, not a minute to spare / Slip a five in the bible for the offering plate / What a beautiful picture we both make

You drive, I look out the window / It’s not right but nobody says so / We walk in and head to the same pew / And hold hands, just like we’re supposed to / But last night you slept on the sofa / And these days I don’t even know ya / We fight like hell but nobody knows / When we’re wearing our church clothes

We stand up we sing a hymn / We say a prayer for other friends / We’re turning to the book of John / And I’m thinking how I can’t go on / But we smile and we give it our Sunday best / If we’re lost couldn’t tell by the way we’re dressed

You drive, I look out the window / It’s not right but nobody says so / We walk in, I head to the bedroom / But you don’t, you do what you want to / Like last week when you packed a suitcase / And came close to getting your own place / Oh that’s the stuff that nobody knows / When we’re wearing our church clothes

Oh we don’t speak / Don’t touch as if nobody’s watching us / Lord knows we’ve got it down / What would they say if we gave up

You drive, I look out the window / It’s not right but nobody says so / We walk in like we’ve never been so close / Miles apart but careful that it don’t show / When we’re wearing our church clothes


This song has the power to change lives and bring healing to so many. We hope it touches you as much as it has touched us over the years. It doesn’t have to be about your own life, it could be about parents, a couple you know… your neighbor. It doesn’t even have to be about a relationship, but about that brokenness of feeling so judged and feeling like you must have it all together, you have to make others think your life is perfect.

There’s not a lot of music out there that truly brings that kind of healing and the opportunity to face what’s really happening in life. This song does that in more. Don’t be afraid to tell someone you know is hurting about “Church Clothes.” Let the healing begin.

Download “Church Clothes” on iTunes,

The music video for “Church Clothes” will premiere on Saturday, March 11 on CMT’s Hot 20 Countdown!



Kelleigh Bannen Skates Her Way Through the “Welcome To The Party” Music Video – Watch

It’s finally here, the music video for Kelleigh Bannen‘s final song off her Cheap Sunglasses EP “Welcome To The Party.” Each song holds something special, but this song really connects with so many listeners as almost everyone can identify with having their heart broken. Maybe not by a romantic relationship, but by something in their life that caused them pain.


“Welcome To The Party” allows people who might feel alone, or weird to realize everyone has been in that boat and together you can find comfort. The video is as upbeat as the song, as friends all share time together at a skate rink where they’re able to let loose and be as silly as they want. After all, life is more enjoyed when you are around people you can truly be yourself with.


Welcome to the party / ‘Bout time you stopped by / We ain’t gonna judge you / And it’s okay, yeah its okay to cry / Welcome to the freak show / It’s come as you are / Yeah, it’s bring your own beer / Bring your own heartache / Everybody’s here welcome to the party

Bannen told CMT:

“This has been a season of me owning my stuff and being real about what’s great about the good and the bad. I think that’s what’s fun about ‘Welcome to the Party’ and the overall EP is about making the most of where you are and telling the truth about yourself. We think that everyone else’s life is outstanding and perfect when the reality is, everyone else’s life is kind of a mess, too. But it doesn’t mean that it’s going to suck long term. We might as well have a good time while we’re here together. It [the music video] was sort of going back to the place where you had your kid birthday. It was fun and complete mayhem like almost everything in my life right now. Everything in life is one day at a time. And yes, I’m always looking at the future. I love planning and I love dreaming far out, but I can really only do what I can do today. And if I show up and I do the best that I can today, and then I just do that again tomorrow. And I do that the next day. I think that’s the most successful model that I have because you don’t know what’s going to happen.”


Check out the full Cheap Sunglasses EP here