Holly Williams is descended from country royalty — her grandfather is Hank Williams and her father is Hank Williams Jr. — but with three studio albums of her own, she's made a name for herself in the genre with her soulful voice and honest songwriting.
Speaking to PopCulture.com ahead of her recent show at the Franklin Theatre just outside of Nashville, Tennessee, Williams opened up about what she's learned from her famous family, sharing that the most important lesson her dad taught her was how to be herself.
"I think just following your own path," she said. "That can work whether it's music or not — in kind of any work scenario or scenario where you're passionate about something. He [Hank Williams Jr.] was told so many times he wouldn't make it. He had that terrible mountain fall in 1975 and didn't think he would come out of it. And just to find what you want to say and say it, whether that's as a musician, as an artist or even in an office job. What's going to set you apart from other people and make your thing different?"
That lesson also translated into Williams' music, which sees her as a mature songwriter more on par with laid-back folk instead of her family lineage of Southern rock.
"For me, it was just all about seeing the path that my dad made through following his own direction and the path that my grandfather made through following their hearts and what they wanted," Williams explained. "They were told, 'You'll never make it' and 'This is not music for the masses,' and they just kind of followed their dream. So it was really inspiring to kind of do what I wanted and find my own fan base."
The singer released her first album, The Ones We Never Knew, in 2004, followed by 2009's Here with Me and 2013's The Highway.
"I think the biggest things they taught me was just about being your own musician and whatever's in your heart," she said. "I love that Hank Sr. used to say, 'I don't know what you mean by country music. I just write songs the way I know how.' And that's kind of how I felt. Some songs are more country. Some songs are more folk. Depending on the instrumentation, on production, it can lean so many different ways."
Williams shared that her easygoing sound allowed her to carve her own path in the music industry without any pressure that may have come with being her father's daughter, noting that she thinks things may have felt more difficult for her father and her brother, Hank Williams III.0comments
"I think being a girl and doing kind of a little more folk singer-songwriter music, it's set apart enough," she mused. "There's definitely pressure, in a way, of people expecting a certain amount of talent, and they expect to love your songs. But for the most part, I would say that people were open to new ideas and I didn't have a lot of pressure, like I needed to sing this song and dress like this and that kind of stuff."
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