Updated: Sep 20
Dressed to the nines in a pink suit and sparkly coat, Laci Kaye Booth walked into the Johnson theater looking like the rising star she is.
The country singer, best known for her top-five finish on season 17 of “American Idol,” not only surprised with an acoustic performance but shared career advice for aspiring young professionals at Belmont.
Aspiring artists, songwriters and music managers gathered Friday to hear Booth speak alongside her manager, Rachel Silver, who has been by her side through much of her music journey in Nashville.
It’s a journey that started in Booth’s hometown of Livingston, Texas, and in January brought Booth to CMT’s 2022 Next Women of Country class, joining names like Kacey Musgraves, Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris.
“Just looking at all of the Women of Country prior to this year, it’s just so inspiring that I could be in the same group as all of those ladies,” Booth said.
As a young woman, Booth followed the musical example set by her father, country artist Jody Booth, and the shared interest brought father and daughter closer together.
“Music is just second nature. I knew nothing else but music,” 26-year-old Booth said.
In 2019, she auditioned for “American Idol,” not knowing whether her “smokey and soft” voice was the right fit for the show. But she flew through the initial audition and went on to compete alongside Belmont alumni Emma Kleinberg and Walker Burroughs.
Even though she found herself in the spotlight, Booth stayed true to her roots as an artist.
“The one thing that ‘Idol’ did let me do and have free range of is take a song and make it my own … I really appreciated them for that,” Booth said. “It is so important to stick to your grounds.”
After placing fifth on the show, she moved to Nashville to pursue her career as a full-time artist, immersing herself in the city’s famous music industry.
“That’s so important to do at the beginning, soak everything up,” said manager Silver, a nine-year veteran of Red Light Management in Nashville.
After moving to Music City, Booth signed on with Silver and nabbed a record deal with Big Machine Label Group, notorious for bringing up megastar Taylor Swift. She released a self-titled album in 2021 under her new label.
“They pay so much attention to me,” Booth said.
“That doesn’t happen at all major labels. Real talk,” Silver added.
Similar to many Belmont students, Booth was working toward a degree while looking for opportunities to advance her music career. Although it was a degree in biology, Booth was grateful for the opportunity college gave her to “grow up.”
Her advice to students on juggling a dream and a degree?
“Don’t let your dream be put aside. Make sure your dream is always the main focus,” she said.
PHOTO: Rachel Silver (left) and Laci Kaye Booth in the Johnson theater Friday. Belmont University
This article was written by Marina Hernandez.