Award-winning country singer/songwriter Elizabeth Lyons said she’ll feel like she’s at home when she performs at the Lake County Fair July 24. A Winnetka native and New Trier High School graduate, Lyons and her family spent many a hot July day at the fair.
“We used to go with my grandparents and parents to the Lake County Fair when we were little,” Lyons recalled.
“I remember the petting zoo, and I loved the food, especially the corn on the cob. My mom let us get whatever we wanted. I loved the fresh air and being away from the worries.”
And she always got to see her great Auntie Ann, who has been working at the fair for 57 years.
Listed on the Music Row DisCovery Award & Country Music Association’s Who to Watch for 2014, Lyons promises to perform “#Party Rules,” one of her fans’ favorites. “I’ve always loved performing, and music has always been something that makes me happy,” she said. The hashtag is part of the song title, she said, because she loves tweeting with her social media network fans.
Lyons grew up in Winnetka, playing piano and participating in Children’s Theatre of Winnetka and the New Trier High School theater program as well as singing in church choirs.
The Midwestern girl, who believes country music is alive and well here as much as it is in Nashville, said she fell in love with the genre in high school.
“My mom is from small town in Iowa. We have a farm out there and country music was always around,” she said. “The story telling is so beautiful. Country music has a way of going right to your heart. It can touch you in the best times and the worst of times.”
Taylor Swift was great to listen to when going through heartbreak and Kenny Chesney was great when she just wanted to feel happy, she said.
With a degree in film from Vanderbilt University, Lyons is ready to set the country music scene on fire.
She wrote and had produced six songs on an EP (extend play) in November 2012 that hit No. 42 on the itunes country music chart. “I’ve sold over 70,000 songs on itune, which is a really big thing for an independent artist,” she said.
In June 2013, she released a music video that charted No. 8 on the country music video charts and No. 18 for all genres. The music video featuring her singing, “Everything Tonight.”
She’s been touring all summer and has opened for Cole Swindell at the Milwaukee Summer Fest among others.
Lyons has the kind of voice and ebullient personality fitting for a trip to The Voice to try to get onto Blake Shelton’s team, but that hasn’t been one of her goals, she said, although she admits she’s starting to think about it.
Grand Ol’ Opry? “It’s a true dream of mine. We’ll make it happen.”
Lyons writes or co-writes her own songs – some based on past experiences, for example having a party in the sticks with her family on the Fourth of July in Minnesota. Those kinds of songs set her apart from other country singers who don’t focus on Midwestern country living, she said.
When she performs at the Lake County Fair, “it will be such a really special night,” she said. She’s proud to be singing for veterans who will be honored that day. “We’ll recognize all the active and retired military,” she said, noting one of her ancestors died while in the military during World War II.
“It’s a full circle thing of coming back there. I hope I can inspire some people to follow their dreams whatever they may be, bring everyone together with my music, make it a good time with them to be with their family and having fun. I’ll try to bring my Aunt Annie upstage and recognize her 57 years working at the fair.”
Her parents, Dennis and Sarah Lyons, still living in Winnetka, will be there, too. Her mom encouraged her to sing at the Lake County Fair. Lyons admires her dad for having worked at the same company for 30 years. “I think it’s something that’s strong about Midwesterners. That type of hard work ethic is really cool.”
8 p.m. July 24 on the Festival Square
Lake County Fair, 1060 E. Peterson Road, Grayslake
Fair continues July 23-27
Concert free with paid fair admission: $5-$10, Season passes: $15-$35
(847) 680-7200 or visit lcfair.com
More on Elizabeth Lyons at elizabethlyons.bomplates.com