Lauren Duski first turned heads (and chairs) as a member of Team Blake on season 12 of The Voice, where she finished as runner-up. Since then, she was named one of CMT's Next Women of Country, toured with radio personality Bobby Bones and released her debut EP, Midwestern Girl.
"I feel like I really owe who I am and what I'm saying to the Midwest and being from this small town in northern Michigan. Growing up with the people I did and that small town mentality, I feel like that's really why I am who I am today," Duski tells Wide Open Country. "I owe this body of work to the Midwest. I'm really thankful to represent -- in my personal opinion -- a very badass part of the country."
The stellar five-song EP even opens with a gorgeous, cinematic instrumental track titled "Journey of a Midwestern Girl," which Duski says is an ode to her childhood.
"I wanted to kind of clear everyone's pallet before they dove into the lyrics of the song following the instrumental," Duski says. "I wanted people to feel what I feel when I hear that track. When I think of the Midwest, that first track puts me right back at home as a kid, riding my bike, (being) totally free, building tree forts. I think about little Lauren when I hear that track."
"The Weather," a devastating exploration of grief and loss, establishes Duski as one of the best new voices in Music City. Duski says she wrote the song with Liz Rose and Brandon Hood after losing her grandmother.
"We lost my grandmother over Christmas right before I wrote the song. I never thought about writing a song for my grandparents, but I came home about a week later after we lost her and I just remember having a few conversations with my grandpa before I left," Duski says. "We knew she was sick. We knew she was going to be passing, but the one thing I wasn't prepared for was watching my grandfather try to navigate life without her. Every time I'd ask him something -- didn't matter what question I asked -- he'd always circle back to 'How's the weather in Nashville?' It hit me, what was really going on."
Duski's debut single "Costume Party" is another example of her raw, honest lyrics. She says the song, which focuses on being your true self without apology, brought her even closer to her listeners.
"Writing it brought so much clarity, but then to finally release it there was this total wave of release. I felt this weight off my chest. For 26 years I had been pretending to be someone I wasn't. I was super unsettled into who I was. I feel like finally admitting to the world -- not just some of my friends -- coming out publicly and saying I'm not OK all the time, there's so much freedom in that for me," Duski says. "Also, the community that came to me through that song was so special because it really opened my eyes to 'Wow, I'm not alone.' I feel closer than ever with people."
With plans for a second EP this year and an ever growing fan base, it's only the beginning for this Midwestern Girl.