My sophomore album, A Cowgirl Rides On, set to be released October 20, 2023, is a true reflection of my heart and what keeps me going – bluegrass, gospel, western, Jesus, horses, love, and even a little bit of heartache. The songs written for the record were hugely inspired by the songs I included on this playlist. All of these artists and songs are ones I hold near and dear and have moved me in some big way.
I became strong in my faith as a Christian in my early 20s, which is around the same time I began performing and writing a ton. Being introduced to gospel and bluegrass had a big impact on me, and it continues to deeply connect me to my faith.
It’s been a long–time dream to release a record that feels a little bit bluegrass, a little bit gospel, and everything in between. Here are the songs that guided me there. I hope you find so much joy in them and that they become the soundtrack to your long drives, or to enjoy over your Sunday pancakes, or during the times you just need a little light. – Victoria Bailey
“Waiting At the Gate” – Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
This song is one of my all–time favorites. This whole album, Soldier of the Cross, is pure gospel gold. I actually cover this song on my upcoming record, and it was one of the most fun songs for us to record in the studio. Ricky Skaggs is just simply the best.
“Wayfaring Stranger” – Emmylou Harris
This Emmylou Harris album is really the pinpoint of when I fell in love with country music. Many have covered this classic song, but Emmylou’s version of “Wayfaring Stranger“ is my favorite by far. Her voice and the tone of this song are so haunting and beautiful… nothing compares.
“The Seeker”– Dolly Parton
Oh, Dolly… what would a playlist be without her? Dolly is undeniably the best and has inspired me in so many ways, but especially her love for Jesus and how she ties in a little bit of the gospel to most of her records. This song really gets me moving and grooving around my house.
“I Just Want to Thank You Lord” – Marshall Family
These harmonies are so good, and they really inspired how I wanted the harmonies to sound on my own record. I also wanted it to feel just as timeless and simple as this song by the Marshall Family. This song ends up being on most of my roadtrip playlists.
“The Fields Have Turned Brown” – Ralph Stanley
Ralph Stanley is a huge inspiration to me and such an important figure in bluegrass music and in the banjo world. The banjo is one of my all–time favorite sounds, and I included a lot of it on my new record. It just takes you to a good place.
“Wild and Blue” – Alan Jackson
I turn to this album quite often. What a combo! Alan Jackson and bluegrass/gospel. It’s just so good.
“Snake Trails” – Victoria Bailey
This is by far my favorite song on the record. It is a gospel song I wrote while riding my horse, Weasley, through the canyon one day. It brings me back to that place every time I sing it. It was one of the first written for the project and really sets a tone for the rest of the record. It was inspired by my horse and finding peace and connection to my faith being out on the trails.
“I Must See Jesus” – Snooks Eaglin
This song always gives me the same feeling as when you just finished a really good movie. My whole heart swells, and it brings me to a really special, peaceful place. His voice is incredible, and you can hear all the passion and honesty and faith in his delivery.
“End of the Line” – Moonsville Collective
These guys are like family to me and have inspired me endlessly over the years, watching them play and the way they are beautifully representing bluegrass/Americana music. This song, written by Corey Adams, is one that has always hit home hard for me at many times in my life. It is truly one of my favorite songs ever written, and it was an honor that I actually got to cover this song on my upcoming record.
“I’ll Fly Away” – Gillian Welch, Allison Krauss
When my producer, Brian Whelan, and I sat down to talk about making this record, we referenced the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack often. Not only is this movie legendary, so are all of the musical performers on the soundtrack. We loved the style of the recordings. Live, all in one room together, where you can hear all the cracks and the love, and it‘s exactly what we tried to emulate for my own record. Recording live was such a special part of making A Cowgirl Rides On.
“Where the Soul of Man Never Dies” – Ricky Skaggs & Tony Rice
Doesn’t get much better than this duet. This is often a Sunday soundtrack for me.
“Long Journey Home” – Billy Strings & Terry Barber
Billy Strings is such an amazing representation of modern bluegrass. His sound is timeless, and his guitar playing and songwriting match up to some of my bluegrass heroes. I’ve always loved this song, and he covers it so well.
“Angel Band” – The Stanley Brothers
This song just always pops in my head any time I hear the word bluegrass. It is so classic and pure, and the harmonies pull on all the heartstrings.
“Just Like Leaving” – Bella White
I have been a longtime Bella White fan, and she is such an important female artist in keeping the bluegrass sound alive. The rest of the record is incredible as well.
“Green Green Grass of Home” – Merle Haggard
You can’t have a playlist without Merle. This song always brings me to tears and really is a beautiful representation of Merle’s songwriting and voice.
Photo Credit: Stefanie Lee Johnson