ON BEAT: Savannah Burrows
After three formative years away from home, senior songwriting major Savannah Burrows is ready to show off newfound confidence through her free-loving, California country roots.
Raised on the outskirts of Los Angeles in Santa Clarita, California, Burrows started performing music at 9 years old, sacrificing classmates’ birthday parties for guitar lessons and band practice. Over years of dedication, focus and collaboration, Burrows has branded, rebranded and ripened her sound.
After relocating to Nashville, she blended Southern soul and tailgate country with Taylor-Swift-inspired country pop. With her beach-blonde waves and bright colors, she tells an all-American sweetheart narrative — one that’s often inspired by her personal life.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What are the four quintessential albums of your childhood?
Savannah: “Fearless” by Taylor Swift. “Born to Die” by Lana Del Rey. “Brand New Eyes” by Paramore. “Rumors” by Fleetwood Mac.
And what they all have in common is these young girls just trying to be fearless. They are just staples for inspiring girls. They’re the best projectors of their stories.
What does your song “What Would Taylor Do” mean to you now?
Savannah: I don’t regret doing that, but it has nothing to do with my artistry now. But it was something I felt like I wanted to do, or needed to do, because I don’t think anyone had ever really asked the question. Now, it feels like I’m answering the question of my own art, because I’m writing about love and heartbreak and having fun. And I could never do what she did. But people argued, like, friends of mine were like, “Well, aren’t you just trying to do the whole ‘Tim McGraw’ thing?” And no. I identify with her fans so, so, so much and that’s a huge part of my following right now. A lot of it is ever-growing or pre-existing Taylor Swift fans, and they’re still with me. So, I started gaining the following that I have, and now I do something completely different, from tailgate party songs to pop songs.
How do you compare your experiences in the music industry between Nashville and Los Angeles?
Savannah: In LA you either pay your way to play, and if you don’t pay your way, you make connections, but it’s all pretty inorganic. I mean, I’ve definitely met some wonderful people in LA. But moving here and realizing the communal aspect and knowing you can’t fool anyone like, who you are is what they’re going to get. And whoever you portray yourself as from day one, they’re going to remember that, because they want the real you and they don’t care about the money. They want us to write a good song because it all starts with the song. Don’t for a second think you can convince them that you’re something you’re not, because they don’t have time for that. Because they’ve made real, honest connections. When I got here, at Belmont, it was a huge wake-up call. I was like, “Oh, I can’t just play full-band, I gotta start at the writer’s room, I gotta remove the ear monitors, the bass, the drums and lead guitar,” and it’s just me and my guitar; it’s a very humbling thing.
How have you prepared for your next release?
Savannah: I wanted to work on my performing and form a band. And I’ve been playing with them since May and, somehow, we played the Basement, Whiskey Jam and a few other places, but those were the two that were big goals of mine. So, because I finally have the people to bring into the studio, it really depends on what month we decide on. We’re going to record two more songs and just really look at the catalog and see what’s right to go first. So, we’re in the process of figuring that out and then finally going from there and having it come to life.
How do you feel about the growth of your artistry since your time at Belmont?
Savannah: Now, as a senior, I’m starting to release music at the end of the year — things are starting to finally be recorded. I worked on my social media. I feel like I finally have the colors and the person I want to be. I got bangs. I am no longer wearing a lot of pink, but still wearing glitter. I think I’m a more mature person, a more mature artist, who is willing to take risks and overstep boundaries and make myself uncomfortable. So, I mean, a lot has changed since freshman year, but the big thing is that I was no longer a push pin on a cork board with a little sticky note of bullet points of country girl and country music artists, because I’m not a country girl. I’m from LA — I can’t say that. And I think being in California over COVID and asking, “What is California country?” because the people that like country music in California are very different than everyone here in the South and Midwest and north. So, I’m still figuring it out, but I definitely feel like I've advanced.
What brings you joy?
Savannah: My plants. ... I used to have two frogs. ... I’m answering this in a more specific way because it’s the little things in my life, right now, that bring me more joy than the goals I have. Because everything that I’m reaching out for isn’t here yet, but I know it will be. So, I’m really trying to enjoy the present. But yeah, I think my plants and my frogs. That little escape that brings me back to a childhood that listened to “Fearless.” The little things that remind me of the simple times and where I started, not where I am now — that’s what brings me joy.
PHOTO: Savannah Burrows; Photo courtesy of Savannah Burrows
This interview was conducted by Emma Halloran