Stephanie Layne sometimes helps lead worship at Lakeville-area church
There has always been something noteworthy about Stephanie Layne.
The 1993 Lakeville High School graduate, now a Nashville, Tennessee, singer/songwriter, was born to sing, according to her mom, Jenny Tonsager of Eureka Township.
“She’d wake up from her nap and I’d go up to her crib and she was singing,” Tonsager said. “She’s always been singing.”
Layne pursued her passion for music throughout her years in District 194 schools, including performing in the select mixed Lakeville High School ensemble, The Now & Then Singers, and in college.
She auditioned for the Twin Cities country band High Noon and became their female vocalist and acoustic guitar player, then was in two other bands before moving to Nashville in 2004.
That big move led to multiple gigs that included fronting her own house band at World Famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge in downtown Nashville and performing at the Wildhorse Saloon.
She now performs across the nation in solo acoustic shows, and has been featured at singer-songwriter nights at Nashville listening rooms, including the preeminent Bluebird Cafe where stars including Kathy Mattea, The Sweethearts of the Rodeo, Dierks Bentley and Garth Brooks have performed.
Layne said when she first came to Nashville, she hoped to gain a major record deal, but is now focused on promoting her songs to be featured on other commercial artists’ albums to take them to the top of the charts.
Following her self-titled CD, her latest record is titled “Eclectic” for its variety of songs that have already attracted the recording industry’s attention.
Critic Brenda L. Madden penned a positive review of the CD in the August 2016 issue of Nashville’s Country Entertainment USA magazine.
She wrote, “From the opening song, “Cowgirl Tough” to “One Nation Under God” and the final song, “Ride,” Stephanie Layne displays a proficiency for country music and delivers a noteworthy performance.”
Layne, a Christian, described the cut “One Nation Under God,” as a ministry that has opened opportunities to share the gospel.
She said the words reflects the feelings of many who feel “a growing sense of loss, sadness and even outrage that the fundamental Christian ideals upon which this country was founded and became a great nation have slowly eroded, and now are even being brazenly cast aside.”
Lines from the song include, “What’s wrong with bowing your head, no matter where you are; Taking your cap off at a ball game, with your hand, over your heart; What’s wrong with freedom of speech, even if we disagree; Just don’t try to censor me, and tell me who I oughta be. Under pressure, under attack; Under educated, making choices that we can’t take back; Under control of people we can’t trust; What happened to us; Oh maybe that’s the cost, of one nation over God.”
“This song was our way of letting our voices be heard,” Layne said. “But also offered in the hope of stirring the voices of so many in this country who want to speak up and stand up for the ideals and values that have characterized America for two-and-a-half centuries.”
Layne said she plans to continue following her dreams of becoming a successful independent artist-songwriter with “a cut or two” on a major artist album.
She continues to perform around the country, but also leads worship in churches that have included The Real Tree Church, meeting in Farmington until fall when the church will move to its new building off of Cedar Avenue in Eureka Township near Chub Lake where she was raised.
Tonsager said the family has supported and followed Layne’s career, cheering with the crowd at her performances and getting to know the music business along the way.
She said the kind of perseverance Layne is demonstrating can be rare in Nashville.
“There’s a swinging door on that town,” Tonsager said. “A lot of sad stories come out of there, but a lot of good stories, too.”
Layne’s music is available at www.stephanielayne.com, iTunes, all worldwide digital distribution companies, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Store. Listeners can preview Layne’s album on her website.