“Making waves with these waves”
Fearlessly forging ahead down country roads, CMT Next Women of Country singer-songwriter Julie Williams carries her mixed-race heritage proudly, just as she carries her tunes. Raised in Florida, Julie is turning heads in Nashville’s country music scene with the soft but powerful songs that capture the soul of growing up as a mixed-race child in the South.
Music has always been a part of Julie’s life - honing her singing talent in church and beach bars and belting national anthems before packed stadiums. She grew up listening to everyone and everything, from The Chicks and James Taylor, to Gladys Knight and Michael Jackson. Even though she was drawn to the storytelling of country music, she never quite found the sound that spoke to everything she was: Black, white, Southern, a woman, hopeful, truthful. So naturally, it was up to Julie to make this sound. “My music is mixed like me,” is how she describes it, “I want to tell the stories that need to be told.”
Julie started sharing those stories, and the people listened. A student at Duke University, Julie was signed to Small Town Records whose alumni include Mike Posner and Delta Rae and sang as a vocalist for the Duke Jazz Ensemble. In April 2019, she released her debut EP, Lovecycle, earning a feature in People of Duke Arts in 2019. After graduating with a public policy degree in 2019, she moved to Nashville, where she became a regular host of The Song Suffragettes, Nashville’s premier collective of female singer-songwriters, and performed her upcoming single Southern Curls at the State of Tennessee’s 100th anniversary celebration of the 19th amendment. She was named in Rissi Palmer’s Color Me Country Class of 2021 and featured on She Wolf Radio’s Ones 2 Watch list. In April 2021, she was featured in a PBS NewsHour special on Black women in country music.
“People want to hear black voices, black stories,” Julie always says. “I was nervous about how my songs would be received by Nashville - but people want honesty. They want honest songs about real life, and for the artists they follow to take a stand.” Julie´s upcoming single Southern Curls embodies this - making waves with her soulful lyrics about the struggles of growing up mixed in the South, aiming for the heart and striking true. Her fans responded by raising over $5000 in only one week to fund the song´s music video that was brought to life by an all black creative team. The single and music video, released in March 2021, covered by Billboard, CMT, World of Country, and numerous music publications.
Julie has begun touring the country with the Black Opry Revue, a showcase featuring Black artists in country, blues, folk, and Americana music, and performed at their CMT-sponsored anniversary gala in April 2022 that was covered by NBC News. Julie took the stage with the group at CMA Fest in Nashville in June 2022 and followed this performance with her first solo tour that brought Julie and her songs across the country and globe - with performances in London, Nashville, and across the East Coast. After her Americana Fest debut at the Country Music Hall of Fame, Julie hit the road again over the fall with a mix of Black Opry and solo performances across the Midwest, West Coast, and Northeast.
Julie was inducted in the CMT Next Women of Country Class of 2023 in January 2023, joining, Kacey Musgraves, Margo Price, Brittney Spencer, Lainey Wilson, Lauren Alaina, Madeline Edwards, Maren Morris and Morgan Wade.
Julie is releasing a new single, “Wrong Mr. Right” on February 10. Her first release following her induction into CMT Next Women of Country, the song captures the hurt of a long-term partnership ending, through her poignant lyricism and vulnerable vocal performance. The song will be accompanied by a music video to be released at the end of February.
“I’m writing my songs for the 10-year old girl who cries in the shower as she tries to detangle her hair and is afraid to look in the mirror because she hates what she sees; for the 20-year-old who is just now learning to love herself; for the new mom that wants her daughters and sons to love themselves as themselves and to hear music that celebrates them. That’s who my songs are for.”