It’s a story that belongs in a country song.
Girl grows up singin’ with her mama, dreaming of being a star. Life happens, marriage happens, kids happen. But she never loses her love of singing, and one day … a star is born.
It’s just a bit ironic that Cheyenne Parmley was singing “Shallow,” a duet between Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper that appeared in the latest remake of the classic “A Star is Born” when she was discovered by a recording outfit.
The result? The 2013 graduate of Somerset High School has her own new single out on the airwaves — and a new chance at achieving her old dream.
“It’s definitely surreal, especially coming from a family (where) we lived very simple lives,” said Parmley, now of Monticello. “It’s something that I always wanted to do, but I always felt like it was just a dream.”
Simple lives, perhaps, but harmonious ones, in the most literal sense. “My whole family was very musical, so they always pushed me to do musical things,” said Parmley, acknowledging her mother, Katina, was the “original” source of her musical passion. “It was a dream of hers first.”
As Parmley (née Adams) got older, her mother helped steer her in her own opportunities. In high school, Parmley took choir under her cousin, Heather Massey Foister. When she was 16, Parmley auditioned for the NBC singing competition, “The Voice,” one of a number of talent shows and contests she tested herself in.
“I made it through open casting and got a call back,” said Parmley of her brush with potential TV stardom. “I made it through the audition rounds before TV; I went home on the second round.”
Eventually, Parmley married her husband, Blake, and started a family; “I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for five years now,” she said. “Music became more of a hobby.”
As such, Parmley would find her voice in more personal ways — like posting videos of herself singing on social media. She’s always kept recording equipment around — “I have a mini-studio in my room,” she said — and would upload her in-home performances to sites like YouTube and Instagram. It was on the latter site that Parmley’s take on “Shallow” was spotted by an A&R (artists and repertoire) representative with Off the Row Studio in Franklin, Tenn., one of those in the orbit of country music hub Nashville — one of Parmley’s favorite places to visit and sing at open mic night opportunities.
“(Off the Row) has a breakout artist program where they give you a discount as an up-and-coming artist to record there,” said Parmley. “… They contacted me a few months before I actually went there. … It was kind of a different experience because of COVID. We each had big windows where we could see each other but we never got to be in the same room with each other. I was in the studio, the engineer was in one room, the band was in one room, and the producer was in another room. Everybody could hear each other through headphones, but we never came in contact. But it was a super fun experience, for sure.”
The recording took place over a single weekend about three months ago, with two songs — one written by Melba Montgomery and Stephony Smith, both big names in the industry (Montgomery sang with George Jones; Smith wrote tunes like “Big Star” and “It’s Your Love”) that was given to Parmley by the studio. Called “I Can’t Stay Away From You,” the single dropped Wednesday morning on all major music platforms — Pandora, Apple Music, Spotify, Tik Tok, etc.
“I searched my own name at least 20 times today,” an excited Parmley said.
She considers herself more of an “outlaw country” style of singer, “because I have a raspier voice for a female.” She mentioned Kentuckian Chris Stapleton as a major musical influence of hers.
In recording, Parmley got to perform with instrumentalists like Grammy winner Mark Prentice, guitarist Danny Parks (who has worked with Blake Shelton and Brooks & Dunn) and producer P.T. Houston, engineer on one of Parmley’s favorite songs, Rodney Atkins’ “If You’re Going Through Hell.”
Another single Parmley recorded, “Grace and Grit,” was co-written by Parmley herself. “I’ve been sitting on the song since high school,” she noted. “I had the first verse and chorus; (the studio) had a staff writer help me finish.” The second recording should be released in a couple of months, said Parmley.
Fans can follow her on Instagram at www.instagram.com/cheyenneparmleymusic.com, or Facebook at “Cheyenne Parmley Music.”
Between her mother, cousin, father Chris, and even her husband’s family — his own parents were faith-based recording artists — Parmley has always been surrounded by music. But even though she had to take a rest, her song isn’t over yet — with any luck, it’s just beginning.
“Being a small town girl and working with people who have accomplished so much has been the most amazing experience for me,” she said. “I am a mom of two little boys, from Kentucky, and I have been singing country music for as long as I can remember. I have worked my whole life doing open mics, talent shows, contests etc. around the community of Somerset, and the support that I have always gotten is part of what pushed me to follow my dreams.”