Carly Waddell opens for Nick Carter’s #WhoIAmTour

by | Dec 5, 2023 | Backstreet Boys, Carly Waddell, Country Music, Featured, Interviews, Music, New Music, News, Nick Carter, Pop Music, Review, Solo Music, Who I Am Tour | 0 comments

#BachelorNation should be very familiar with the name Carly Waddell. Waddell was a contestant on the 19th season of The Bachelor, which aired in 2015, where she was eliminated in the 7th week.  Waddell returned for Bachelor in Paradise Seasons 2, 3, and 4, where she met and married Evan Bass. Waddell and Bass have since split, but have 2 children together that they co-parent.  Something that may be less-known about Waddell is that she has been in music almost her whole life.  In a new interview with BSBFangirls, Waddell shares about her musical roots and her once in a lifetime experience on tour with our very own Nick Carter. 

From Waddell’s first audition at the age of 6 or 7, all the way until this run of the #WhoIAm tour, she has been immersed in music. Early on, Waddell enjoyed doing musicals and performing on stage. She recalled her first audition where she used flashcards to help her remember the words to The Hills Are Alive from The Sound of Music, a favorite movie of hers as a kid. Waddell laughed as she shared that she had prepared flashcards of the lyrics to ensure she would remember all the words, reading card by card, pausing as she flipped through them, to help her get through the nerves. Thankfully, the memory trick worked, and she got the gig. 

Beginning in middle school, she began writing her own music. Taking inspiration from musical influences we have all heard of from Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, and Celine Dion in the pop world to Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Trisha Yearwood, and Leanne Rimes in the country world. She thrived on major female artists of the 80’s and 90’s and eventually began following Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Mandy Moore in the late 90’s and 00’s. She even vividly recalls being desperate to buy Britney’s first album when it came out and being so impressed with the “big show” that these artists put on. It’s no surprise, with these musical icons as her favorites, that Carly describes her sound as Pop-Country. Waddell shared that her music “can lean either way…the lyrics are more like country lyrics, but…it has kind of a pop vibe to it”. 

In recent years, as she became a mother and went through some personal struggles with her family, music had to be put on hold. However, writing was never far from her mind. Waddell shared that ideas for songs or lyrics can be sparked by anything from a dream to a conversation with a friend. Luckily, Waddell surrounds herself with other writers, making it easy to put those lyrics and melodies on paper when they strike. In fact, Waddell has released 4 singles just this year and all have been songs she wrote herself.

Waddell’s debut song, “Your Friends Like Me More”, was released in May, 2023. Since then, she has released “Just Work”, “My Kind of Woman”, and her most personal song, “Two Little Angels”, which she wrote about her children. Waddell talked about the writing process with this song, sharing that it took over a year before she agreed to dive into writing about her family. Waddell said, “I didn’t want to write it…I don’t think I wanna write anything personal”. She went on to say that after a year of working with her producer, the idea of writing about her personal life came up again. Waddell had wanted to write a slower song with more meaning, as many of the songs she had already written and recorded were more mid tempo. That pushed her to share some of her thoughts in song-form with her producer. Thus, “Two Little Angels” was born. Still, Waddell wasn’t sure about the song. “It came from a very, very sacred place to me and I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to share that with anybody,” ultimately deciding to put it out and share a piece of her story with the world.

Waddell had a chance to perform this, and other songs, when she went on tour with Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys on his #WhoIAm tour this past November. Waddell said that touring with Carter was “an absolute dream”, noting that as a child, she never got to see him or his bandmates, Backstreet Boys, perform a show. “I remember, when I was little, we went to…a Sears or Costco, [a place] like that to try to win tickets to a Backstreet Boys concert and I didn’t win…[so this was] the craziest pipe dream ever! I wasn’t even able to get to a Backstreet Boys concert and then I’m doing a Backstreet Boys concert!” 

Although Waddell admits she was neither Team BSB nor Team N’Sync, opting instead to be a fan of all 90’s boybands, she did relay that Carter was her favorite Backstreet Boy and that singing “I Want It That Way” with Carter on stage at his Nashville show sealed the deal on the band’s most iconic song being her favorite. “I say that because I just sang it with him in Nashville and now I can’t go back from saying that, now it’s so personal!” Waddell pondered for a bit, clearly wanting to come up with another answer aside from the most famous of their catalog, but eventually said, “I think it would have to be that, I don’t think I can go back from that being my favorite one because at the end of singing that with him I was like ‘What is life?’” 

When asked about her experience on the road with Carter, Waddell shared that she learned a lot from the tour veteran as she embarked on her first-ever musical tour. She reported that “everybody was so welcoming, Nick was so welcoming, his whole [team from] the managers, the crew, the sound guys…everybody was just so nice, and helpful. I didn’t really know what I was doing, and if I had a question or anything, everyone was just so kind.”  Waddell talked about a few of the biggest lessons she learned watching Carter behind the scenes.  “Him being such a nice person, I think is probably one huge reason he’s successful. I mean, he’s mega-talented, but I think that was a huge thing. Having a nice person being at the tip top of this totem pole of this whole tour…I was like ‘Ok, you can still be the boss, and be kind, and the tour go extremely well.’” 

Waddell also talked about something she and Carter had in common on the road: missing their kids. Waddell reported that she works hard to separate “mom life” and “singer life” and that it can be a challenge to balance parenthood with work.  She commented that “we were both missing our kids and our families, but we were [touring] because we love it and that was extremely helpful for me to think that he’s a family guy, and he’s out there doing this too”. Waddell talked about the importance of enjoying motherhood, while also finding the time to be and explore other avenues of who you are as a person. “I love being a parent, and I also love a lot of other stuff too.” Waddell reiterated that she misses her kids when she is away, but that she tries to focus on the performance and the audience, sharing her lyrics with others, which helps her feel good about the work. She leaned into this time away, embracing the performance side of who she is while out on tour. Not to mention “it’s really nice to be able to get a full night’s sleep in a hotel room because whenever I’m at home that doesn’t happen!”

Waddell went on to report that she learned some things from watching Carter on stage as well, including the importance of going all out for your performances. “He is nuts! When he was in Nashville he sang for like 3 hours, and then he cut an hour and did these 2 hour sets, but he was at 100% in every song…he never stops and it’s wild! His energy and his performance is the same everywhere…He just is always at full capacity, and he gives everybody 100% of himself…I think that was just another thing I learned, it’s just like give it all you got all the time and then also as a performer you look back with no regrets.” Waddell gushed about Carter’s performances and his work ethic, stating that regardless of what the night brought, he was always giving it his all. She also noticed how personal Carter was when on stage. “I just love the way he is up there and he tells jokes and he talks and…he makes the audience feel like “hey, this is the part where you get to know me”. She commented that she enjoys performances when artists not only sing and show their musical talent, but also share more of who they are as a person. “ I think that’s really cool instead of someone just getting up there and just singing to kind of let you in and I feel like he does that, and I think that’s cool.”

In addition to her own songs, Waddell also took some classic songs and put her own spin on them. Waddell owes much of this to her guitarist, Sam Sardina, who she met when Sardina accepted the job as her nanny. More recently, as Waddell’s kids have gotten older and begun to attend school, Sardina has moved on to work with other families. However their connection remains strong. Waddell stated that Sardina is a local artist as well and that she was always impressed with her musical talent, so when the opportunity to tour with Carter came up, she had to bring Sardina along as her guitarist. When working on the setlist for the tour, the pair knew they wanted to appeal to the audience while also staying true to what they loved. “That was kinda how we came up with the Britney Spears and the Taylor Swift stuff, but…we can’t do it generically,” which led them to deviate from the traditional sounds of the songs, opting instead for their own versions including a stripped and slowed down version of Britney’s Spears’ Toxic and a mashup of Taylor Swift’s Tim McGraw and Tim McGraw’s It’s Your Love, both of which made the audience take notice. Together, they found a sound that lent itself to familiar songs with a fun, new twist that will be hard to forget.

Before stepping out on tour, Waddell was questioning herself as a musician. She shared that one of the best parts of the tour was gaining back some self-confidence and realizing that she can still perform after her life has taken different turns. “I’ve been singing my entire life, but I haven’t done it in so long like that, on a big stage with the huge audiences and part of me was questioning “Can I still do it, I’m a mom now…can I still do it?” and I honestly think that I got out there and I gave it all I had”. She recalled coming home from the tour feeling a stronger sense of confidence and knowing that “however old you are, however mom you are, however whatever, you still can do the things you wanna do and you still can crush it”.  Waddell shared that it was important for her to find that confidence as she got older, especially knowing how easy it can be to lose yourself in other parts of life like family and kids. Having this time on the road allowed her a renewed sense of self-worth, and an opportunity to return to her musical roots. 

The year 2023 as a whole has been full of achievements for Waddell, from releasing her first 4 singles to going on her first tour. She is grateful that despite the fear of sharing herself with the world, her work has been well-received thus far. “Every little interview, one play of your song on spotify, every little thing amounts to something so big in the grand scheme of things, every little thing I’m just so grateful for.” Looking forward, she is excited for the year ahead with a possibility of another tour in the works, a collaboration with a country duo on the horizon, and the release of 2 more songs off her EP. Waddell also hopes to continue to connect with her audience, especially through her live performances. “I want people to feel like they saw a really good performance, but they also left wanting to be my friend. I think it is important for the audience to like you for you and like you for your music.”

Check out Carly Waddell’s music on Spotify, Apple Music, or Amazon and follow her on Instragram @CarlyWadd for updates!

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