A chance encounter with a rodeo queen in line at the airport inspired this anthem of cowgirl cool.
The rhinestone-fringed denim bustier and hot-pink sunglasses only hint at everything Victoria Bailey’s got going on. SoCal country-roots songstress, horse lover, rodeo fan — she’s all that.
The last time we checked in with her, Bailey was spending her dime on white wine and promoting her first record, Jesus, Red Wine & Patsy Cline in 2020. Now she’s working on a new album, due out in 2022, and is about to release the brand-new single “Queen of the Rodeo.”
We’ve got the exclusive premiere right here. The charming little ditty makes you want to curl your hair, get your guitar, and head out to find a pedal-steel cowboy who would preferably remind you of Gram Parsons.
Besides working on new music, Bailey’s been busy livestreaming, including a residency with TheBoot.com. Mark your calendar for her upcoming performances on TheBoot’s Facebook page on October 26 and November 16 at 8 p.m. Central, and for another livestream for the Old Country Living Room Show series on Wide Open Country’s Facebook page on October 12 at 5:30 Central.
We talked with Bailey about the brand-new tune and her enthusiasm for horses and gals who rodeo.
Cowboys & Indians: What inspired you to write this song?
Victoria Bailey: “Queen of the Rodeo” is a nod to all of the strong horse-riding women throughout history. The idea of the song blossomed from me running into a real-life rodeo queen at the airport, and I felt like I was 10 years old, so starstruck. I thought she was the absolute coolest!! She stood there casually in line at the TSA check-in wearing her sash and sparkles and big blond curls, and I turned to my boyfriend and said, “I’m going to write a song about her.” And I did just that.
C&I: What is it about rodeo queens in particular?
Bailey: I honestly just find the tradition of rodeo so inspiring. I love that it has been something so preserved over time and that rodeo queens are truly just badass women. Their role is good horsemanship, community work, representing their title at rodeos across the nation, and, like the lyrics in my song say, “Get the crowd wrangled up before the big cowboy show!”
C&I: What do you hope listeners hear in the music and lyrics?
Bailey: This song really captures my California-country roots and sounds, and all of my favorite bits of Western music are woven into it. Pedal steel, fiddle, harmonies, and a very old-timey western movie feel. I hope this song simply just feels nostalgic for listeners. I truly just wanted it to be a feel-good, cowgirl-empowering anthem.
C&I: Did you grow with riding?
Bailey: I grew up super-fascinated with horses but didn’t learn to ride until my early 20s. I’ve ridden a lot during the pandemic, which has helped me through it in so many ways. I was given my first horse, Weasley, by a friend this year. He’s a big ol’ mustang, and I love him very much. Riding Weasley has been such a spiritual connection for me and has challenged and helped me grow in so many ways. I am super-grateful and truly feel like the luckiest when I’m out on the trail with my horse, listening to Merle Haggard and watching the sun set. Literally nothing can beat these sweet God-given moments.
C&I: What about rodeos appeals to you?
Bailey: I have really only been to a few rodeos! My favorite one was in Ogden, Utah. I was out there visiting a friend in the mountains one summer, and we drove down to this super-special little small-town rodeo. There was country music and lots of beer and hot dogs, and everyone was there just to have the best time. We wore the biggest cowboy hats and lost our voices shouting and freaked out when the rodeo ladies came out, of course.
C&I: Have you ever harbored a secret wish to be a rodeo queen?
Bailey: 1,000 percent! [Laughs.] I still consider myself a student when it comes to riding; I feel like I have so much more to learn, and it is so amazing watching these rodeo cowgirls completely crush it dressed head to toe in a rhinestoned wardrobe. To be a real-life cowgirl Barbie … that’s a dream for sure.
C&I: The video for this song isn’t released yet, but it’s really special too. What details can you share?
Bailey: The video! I am so excited for this to be released. It is by far my favorite project with my creative partner, Stefanie Lee Johnson. The current rodeo title-holding queen, Morgan Laughlin, stars in it with her horses. We got to film this at a junior rodeo ranch up north, and all the sweet kiddos were so excited to meet her, and they ended up in the video as well. I think that was the best part, that the video captured everything the song represents — the culture of the rodeo — and highlights the amazing women involved in such a traditional, inspiring sport.
C&I: What was it like to work with a reigning rodeo queen?
Bailey: She was truly an angel to work with. She came down with her dogs and best friend and was totally in for all my wild ideas. I embarrassingly had her sign a headshot picture of herself at the end of the day, which is now framed and hanging up on my wall!
C&I: You have such a cool vibe and your look is awesome. …
Bailey: Thank you so much! That means a lot. I love dressing up for shows, and my closet is definitely filled with mostly vintage pieces and a lot of pink. I love thrift-store diving and was given a lot of cool pieces from my mom that she used to wear when she was my age. My favorite piece would have to be this pink fringed leather jacket that my friend Alina embroidered. It says “Honky Tonk Woman” on the back, and I wore it on my first tour years ago.
C&I: What’s next for you?
Bailey: I’ve just been writing a lot and planning for another record. I’m so happy that shows are coming back, too. Since my record came out mid-pandemic, I haven’t really toured with these songs yet, so I am really looking forward to playing Jesus, Red Wine & Patsy Cline songs live and for a few new ones I have in the works! I am also so happy to announce I will be performing at AmericanaFest in Nashville this month! It’s been a longtime dream for me, and I’m super-honored to be heading to my favorite city to share a stage with some of my favorite artists. Besides that, there are many more horse rides and new songs on the horizon.
Photography: (All images) courtesy Stefanie Lee Johnson
To preorder/pre-save Victoria Bailey's new single, click here.