Emerging country singer and former rodeo queen coming to Terry Bison Ranch

Niki Kottmann, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, Cheyenne
·3 min read

Apr. 7—CHEYENNE — Rising country star Kylie Frey has never performed in Cheyenne before, but her debut Laramie County concert on Friday won't be her first rodeo.

After catching up with the 26-year-old songstress from Opelousas, Louisiana during a flight layover, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle learned she grew up competing in regional rodeos, and she has fond memories of attending Cheyenne Frontier Days as a teenager.

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"When we would go out West for high school rodeo nationals, we would stop off in Cheyenne and catch the rodeo if we could," she said. "[Her song] 'Spur of the Moment' is about a bronc ride, and so I used a picture of my dad riding a bronc at Cheyenne Frontier Days for the artwork."

Frey's biggest passions growing up were music and rodeo (she was a rodeo queen at the age of 14, and at 15, she was the state champion in goat tying at the Louisiana State rodeo), and they've collided in her debut EP, "Rodeo Queen," which was released last year. She's been busy on the road ever since, picking up gigs wherever she can find them during this tumultuous period for live performers.

Her concert on April 9 at Terry Bison Ranch is part of an informal tour she's been on since returning to live shows in August.

"I had to get really good at singing to my iPhone during this time," she said of the COVID-19 era. "My guitar player was crying because it was such a cool moment to get to play again."

Frey got serious about music at the age of 18, when she realized after her first semester that college wasn't the right path for her. She yearned for a life of music, and her family convinced her to try it.

"The approval from parents to go for it was really what gave me the final push to move forward," she said.

She's been full-steam-ahead ever since, hitting several milestones in December 2020: "Rodeo Queen" crossed a million streams on Spotify, Rolling Stone released an article praising her "great new EP," and she fulfilled one of her biggest dreams, singing the "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the National Finals Rodeo.

"That was a really special time for me," she recalled. "It was a goal for me and my grandpa ... and some things just sort of came together. I sang the anthem right after Randy Houser did 'Ragged Old Flag' and got to hang out with him and told him the story of my grandpa."

Frey's song "Horses in Heaven" is all about her late grandfather, who always dreamed of her singing at the NFR, and as soon as Houser learned this, he asked to sing on it. The new duet of "Horses in Heaven" with Houser will be released April 23, and although the video doesn't have a release date yet, Frey said it will document her time at NFR.

The future is uncertain for Frey, but she has no plans to slow down. After being handpicked by Shania Twain for USA Network's Real Country and racking up five consecutive No.1 hits on the Texas Regional Radio Chart (becoming the fastest-rising female to reach No.1 on the Texas radio chart with "Spur of the Moment"), she's excited for what the future holds.

Frey has been praised by many country purists for her authentic, pop-free sound, but she said she never consciously chose to be more traditional. It's just within her.

"It's what I love. It's my style," she said. "I grew up in boots, so it chose me, I didn't choose it."

Niki Kottmann is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle's features editor. She can be reached at nkottmann@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3135. Follow her on Twitter at @niki_mariee.