OSKALOOSA — Kaitlyn Baker entered KBOE/KMZN radio station on Monday morning with a big smile and a cup of coffee.
Baker, along with guitarist Thomas Estep and publicist Fred Anderson stopped by the station to discuss her single, “To Pieces,” which has been garnering national attention. Bob Allen, KBOE program director, ushered the group into the booth.
The singer and songwriter spoke with a distinctive Virginia accent, peppered with laughter, sipping coffee from Smokey Row. “Yeah, that’s the coolest place, I really enjoy it there,” said Baker, of the coffee shop. “It’s just a cool atmosphere; it’s really neat.”
The trio travelled for about 13-1/2 hours on Sunday, but seemed to be well-rested and enjoying the radio tour. “We just love traveling to different places and seeing cute little towns like this,” said Baker, “We love it.” They’ve been visiting two to three radio stations a day, going through Iowa and into Wisconsin. The next stops included Marshalltown and Mason City.
Like many songwriters, Baker sometimes draws from personal experience, with To Pieces being no different. “I was in a relationship for around 2-1/2 years. Things happen in life; everybody has sad moments,” she said, “I think with this particular song, it’s like even if you’re not necessarily in some kind of breakup or something like that, I feel like anybody can apply it to their life; because life is full of ups and downs. You’re going to have sad moments."
When it comes to writing songs, Baker said that she has to feel it. “It has to come to me, and most of the time, it usually starts with a melody that I hear in my head,” she said. “Then I start making up different lyrics for it. It’s different every time.”
A native of a small town in Southwest Virginia, Baker has been performing since she was around seven years old. She sang in church, then started performing in fairs and festivals and grew outward from there, finding herself in Nashville and writing songs. One of her songs, “Heart of Appalachia,” is actually the official tourism song of Southwest Virginia.
“I’ve always loved music, and I think with my family being really into music it was kind of more like a natural thing for me to love it and play it and everything like that,” she said. “Any family reunion or any kind of event we had that was at my grandparents’ house, you can guarantee there was music being played. Banjo, mandolin, fiddle, you name it, we were gettin’ down.”
Estep, who had been tuning his guitar during the radio breaks, was ready to back Baker as she sang “The Trouble is You,” laying down a stylish riff with a country-blues feel. Baker belted with an expressive, lively voice and a strong country spirit. The duo later played a second tune on the air, “Better Than That.”
The conversation turned to some of the recent concerts and music festivals held in town including Friday After Five, as well as the Southern Iowa Fair; the conversation implying that perhaps Oskaloosa might get to see Baker and her band perform in the future.
In the meantime, Baker, Estep and Anderson were enjoying the weather and were complimentary about the town, especially noting the square. “It’s awesome,” said Estep. “It’s beautiful; the gazebo and the statue, it’s just a beautiful town.”
“We love it, it is so nice. There are so many cool things to do here,” said Baker. “It seems like a very friendly town too.” On her journeys, Baker sees many, many towns of all shapes and sizes. “Some have more special little things about them, and I think this is one of them.”
— Herald staff writer Angie Holland can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @OskyAngie.