The former Nashville TV star branches out musically and prepares to release her debut solo album
At just 20 years old, Lennon Stella already has a resume that easily outshines her peers. The Ontario-born Canadian singer is best known for her role on the popular American TV series Nashville as Maddie, the eldest daughter of fictional country star Rayna Jaymes (played by Connie Britton), as well as for being one half of Lennon & Maisy, a duo with her younger sister Maisy Stella, who also played her sister on the show.
While the young and musically talented character of Maddie typically performed folk and country songs on Nashville, the latter seasons of the show saw her transitioning into a pop singer as she matured, a storyline that perfectly foreshadowed Stella's own personal musical trajectory. This was no coincidence.
'Knowing that I was going into the pop world, they were kind of writing it as I went so that it would set me up so it wasn't as confusing or jarring to people when I put my own music out,' Stella says on the phone from her home in Nashville. 'So they were kind of doing it as it was actually happening in real life. It was cool to play that and experience that on the show.'
When Nashville wrapped after six seasons in 2018, Stella quickly released her debut EP Love, me that fall. She's now gearing up to release her debut solo album later this year, but has also kept busy collaborating with a number of notable artists including Meghan Trainor and Sasha Sloan ('Workin' On It'), Jonas Blue and Liam Payne ('Polaroid') and the Chainsmokers and Illenium ('Takeaway'). Following the success of 'Takeaway', she also opened for the Chainsmokers on their recent North American stadium tour.
'It's all very different than the music I'm making, so it's cool to get to open that door a little bit and just have fun with it and not have to commit and not have to actually have that be my sound or what I want to do,' she says. 'It's fun just to explore and get to experience it while also making music that I want to make.'
Stella's own songs frequently touch on personal themes of love and heartbreak. The first single from her forthcoming debut, 'Kissing Other People', is an upbeat pop number about getting over someone ('that's how I know I'm really moving on / 'cause I don't feel guilty kissing other people'). 'Golf on TV', the album's recently released second single, features fellow Canadian singer-songwriter JP Saxe who is currently supporting Stella on her European and UK tour, with the UK leg beginning in Glasgow on Mon 24 Feb at SWG3.
After six years filming Nashville, Stella admits that it's been somewhat challenging to adjust to constantly touring. 'When I was filming, it was just very stable and structured and routine. You're in Nashville filming in the same location every day pretty much at sound stages,' she recalls. 'Whereas, with music, there's no telling and it's the furthest thing from stable. Somewhere new every day and there's like zero stability. So it's very, very different, but it's cool to experience both being so young and having it be the two very different worlds that I've been heavily intertwined with.'
Despite the pair no longer working together musically or onscreen, Stella is closer than ever with her younger sister Maisy. 'I run everything by her and nothing would ever come out if she didn't love it,' she says. 'She's my number one person that I go to for everything. Just having her be the age that she is  and kind of at this point she can be a kid and it can feel like she's not working right now. I feel like because of that, we're a lot closer now honestly.'
After finishing her UK tour next month, Stella is embarking on a North American headlining tour with a final stop in her adopted home of Nashville at the famous Ryman Auditorium. Although Stella has been on the Ryman stage in the past filming scenes for Nashville or as a guest performer alongside her sister, this will mark her first time headlining the iconic American venue also known as the 'Mother Church of Country Music'.
'Genuinely of venues to play, that's the number one for me,' Stella says. 'That's where I grew up seeing all my favourite artists and every show that I loved was there. Just knowing that I'm playing there is pretty surreal.'
Lennon Stella, SWG3, Glasgow, Mon 24 Feb, and touring.