Lauren Alaina Worked Hard to ‘Tell My Story in a Creative Way’ With That Girl Was Me Tour
Some artists get nervous before hometown shows, but not Lauren Alaina. "I am the opposite of that," she told The Boot with a laugh before kicking off her 2020 That Girl Was Me Tour with two sold-out nights in Nashville on Jan. 15 and 16.
"I cannot wait to show all my friends and family what I do. I never, ever get to play where my family is, ever," Alaina continues. "I'm actually doing two Nashville shows and a Chattanooga show -- and I grew up in Rossville, Ga., which is right outside of Chattanooga! So I'm excited to do that. The people that I grew up with and went to school with are gonna come to the show and see me."
Even more than playing for her family and friends, though, Alaina is excited for her first tour as a headliner. For a decade, she's been an opening act, and now she can't wait to put all the lessons and ideas she's culled in that role into action.
"I'm so excited to play my own set. And it's a longer set," the singer points out. "It's the most production I've ever used, and we're really gonna tell my story front to back. It's a very vulnerable set."
Her long career as an opening act also informs Alaina's approach to being a tour boss for the first time. Opening act Filmore is joining her on the That Girl Was Me Tour, and Alaina takes her responsibilities as the head of the tour very seriously.
"I know what a big deal that can be for any opening artist, and being in that spot for so long and now being a headliner, I think I have an opener's mentality," she goes on to say. "I'm just trying to do all the right things by him and his team, and make it the best possible experience for all of us."
When it comes to treating openers well, Alaina learned from the best. "You know who did that so well for me? Cole Swindell," she says. "When I went on tour with him, he treated me like I was the headliner the whole time. I remember thinking, on that tour, 'When I ever get to headline, this is how I'm gonna treat my openers.'"
Swindell made a big impression on Alaina simply because of how thoughtful he was, both in terms of carving out big, career-building onstage moments for her and also in terms of honoring the personal challenges that were affecting her behind the scenes.
"When my stepdad died, I was on tour with him," Alaina explains. "He sent me flowers every single day on the tour. Every city we went to after my stepdad died, he sent me flowers every single day.
"And then I got to sing with him him every night. He was like, 'When we do this encore, we need Lauren to have her own part.' He literally came up with that! I heard him say it," she adds. "I started at the top of the stage, singing 'Man! I Feel Like a Woman,' and it was this huge moment for me, every night, that he did not have to give me. Honestly, it could have been his moment, and he gave it to me, the opener. So, little things he did like that along the way, that made me feel special and like I was meant to be there."
Just as importantly, Alaina says that headlining her own tour is also a chance to give her fans the level of show they've been asking for for years. With complete control of the stage -- not to mention, more time onstage -- the singer says she structured her set to cater to her listeners.
"Like, some of the songs we're doing in the set, the fans have come to shows and been like, '[Why didn't you play] "Like My Mother Does"?'" Alaina recalls. "We only get so long in the set to play [as opening acts], and we have to play the songs that make the most sense. So we definitely are putting songs in that we haven't done in other sets, to accommodate for the fans.
"I really take into consideration their feedback, and I think they're gonna like it," she continues. "We worked really, really hard, and I don't wanna give away too much about the show, but I really tell my story in a very creative way. I'm taking the fans on an emotional journey with me, throughout the whole set."
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