This fourth-generation dairy farmer is honoring agricultural communities, granting student FFA scholarships, and singing from her country heart.
Stephanie Nash’s first job is farming. And now she’s discovering ways to employ her voice to advocate for the agricultural life she loves and the communities she admires.
Nash’s debut single, “Best Side of Me,” caught the ear of music critics with its confident and penetrating vocals. In October, she followed that up with “Time Changes,” a self-penned song that offers a message of hope for the agricultural industry.
In conjunction with the song’s release, Nash awarded scholarships to Future Farmers of America students based on videos young farmers submitted stating why they love agriculture, how they’re making a difference in their community, and how the money would benefit their chapter.
Nash has also created the eight-part video series The Life of a Farmer for her YouTube channel to bring awareness to the needs of farming communities across the country.
“Growing up I saw strong agricultural communities diminish,” says Nash. “Sadly, so many farms that are vital to providing food do not get the same opportunity as other businesses to grow and flourish, and their success is critical. My hope is that the series is educational and sheds light on the importance of farming.”
We talked with Nash about her music and her advocacy.
Cowboys & Indians: Tell us a little bit about your background.
Stephanie Nash: I grew up in Central California. I was blessed to be in the largest agriculture county in the United States. All I have known is farming: riding in the truck with my dad, showing cattle at the Fresno Fair, and majoring in dairy science at Fresno State. I never wanted to pursue anything else.
C&I: Why did you leave California for Tennessee?
Nash: When the agriculture community got hit in 2008 – 2009 my family decided to start looking into other states to move our dairy farm. With regulations being so high in California it wasn’t possible for us to continue. In 2014 my family and I uprooted from California to Middle Tennessee, 45 minutes south of Nashville. That is where I met a local songwriter, Charlie Daniels’ godson, who taught me to fall in love with songwriting again.
C&I: How do your farming and music converge?
Nash: I am almost going on my third year chasing after my dream. Country music is truly special to me. Not only do I live the humble life of a farmer every day, but I get to advocate through my music. My hope is to continue making an impact. I have many mentors in country music: LeAnn Rimes, Brooks & Dunn, Martina McBride, George Strait. I have a passion for people who’ve lived through so much and shared it through their songs. The heartfelt emotion when they sing is why I am attached to my music so much. I want to bring back that country sound. My mission is to be an advocate for my music and agriculture.
C&I: Sounds like a full life …
Nash: My lifestyle is busy. I am a farmer — that is my first job. Waking up early, getting to the dairy, checking on the calves, bedding them down, making sure our family farm is successful. I work alongside my dad quite often and we are super-close. We both love our cows and being able to produce milk for the world. When I’m not on the farm, I work on my music and sing at local songwriter rounds in Nashville.
C&I: Tell us about the new single, “Time Changes.”
Nash: “Time Changes” is my “I AM” song. I wrote it after hearing about farmers in the Central Valley not being paid for land that the government had taken. I stand firm in my belief that communities should rally behind farmers. Most people don’t understand that these are actually families; this is their livelihood and they have such a strong passion for their farm. I wrote “Time Changes” with the hope that people can see how much love we put into providing for the world, and that agriculture needs to become important to every community, not just rural ones.
Kent Wells is my amazing producer. He is best known for his music with Dolly Parton. He understands me. He not only pushes me vocally but he has so much respect for keeping country emotional and edgy. He took me under his wing, and we just keep producing amazing songs. It’s an honor to have him in my life.
C&I: And the video series?
Nash: The Life of a Farmer is important because it shows fans and country lovers who I really am. I started this series in hopes of bringing awareness to the struggles that farmers face every day. So many people have enjoyed these episodes, and I am so proud to be able to travel and tell every farmer’s story.
C&I: What about lockdown and the future?
Nash: During lockdown, I’ve been writing and producing music and taking time to step back and appreciate what I have! Next for me is to keep pushing. I have new music scheduled for 2021, and I hope we can get back out in the open to sing in front of people again as another way to share my story!
Watch Nash’s The Life of a Farmer
Photography: Images courtesy Luis Gonzalez, Mary Williams, Michelle Barnett