Tegan Marie was just 13 when she signed her record deal with Warner Music Nashville, making her the youngest woman signed to a major label since Tanya Tucker in 1972. Now 15, the multi-faceted country star is the first voice of a new generation of country fans; with songs such as "Keep It Lit," she's bridging a gap between pop and country for Gen Z, the members of which, she says, are open-minded about all kinds of music.

"We love all genres. There is no one genre that we love," Marie told The Boot at an Opry NextStage launch party at Ole Red in downtown Nashville. "For me, I’m a rock ‘n’ roll country girl, but I also love listening to all types of music. I feel like that’s everyone in my generation. We will listen to "Country Roads" and then go to a Rihanna song or something.

"There’s definitely a lot of people in my generation that love country music because it tells stories," she adds. "That’s what people wanna hear, and that’s important."

Marie is part of the Opry NextStage Class of 2019, which also includes Riley Green, Travis Denning and Tenille Townes. The program is a promise from the Opry to back the young careers of these artists; they will play various shows at the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium and Ole Red's locations in Nashville and Gatlinburg. However, it won't be Marie's first Opry rodeo: She's played the hallowed stage a whopping 13 times during her short span as an artist.

"It’s still crazy to me to think about -- 13 performances in the circle. It’s incredible. I’m so blessed and so honored and so grateful for everyone at the Opry," Marie says. "The kind people are what makes it feel like a family."

Marie's Grand Ole Opry debut came in August of 2017, during which, she recalls, she cried onstage ("Of course," she says. "How can you not? It’s the Opry"). However, her first memories of the Opry are from a family trip to Nashville, years ago.

"I was seven years old, and I did the backstage tour. It was my first time in Nashville. I was so stoked," Marie remembers. "They brought us out onto the stage, into the circle, and we got to take our picture. In my picture, I’m literally with my hand over my mouth freaking out, crying or something. I had just seen pictures of the idols I grew up on."

In 2019, Marie will be working on her debut record. She's been in the studio with Nathan Chapman and Scott Hendricks.

"My next single, I’m actually working on it," she shares. "I have a whole bunch of songs, and I feel like it’s really hard to pick one song ... I’m gonna be in the studio a lot."

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