Karissa Ella had an incredible breakout year in 2022 with very well-received single releases “Vintage,” “Hometown Bar,” “Whiskey Whispers Your Name,” and “Beautiful Is You” … and 2023 is unbelievably off to an even hotter start for the rising country songstress! The Friday night anthem “Well Tequila” and the wedding playlist favorite “White Dress Worthy” have both hyped the anticipation for her upcoming EP It’s Personal, and with a busy CMA Fest happening this week for her, we checked with Karissa to talk all about CMA Fest, her new EP, being authentic to herself in her songwriting, and much more!

(Interview by: Jeffrey Kurtis

1) The 50th CMA Fest is coming up in just a few weeks and you’re a part of it. What are you looking forward to most about being on the lineup for this milestone event?

I still cannot believe that I get to be a part of the 50th CMA Fest lineup! I feel very lucky and grateful for this opportunity. I am looking forward to soaking it all up, meeting new people, and hopefully making some new fans! I have attended CMA Fest as a fan many times before and it feels surreal now being on the lineup!

2) You play the CMA Spotlight Stage inside Fan Fair X on Friday at 1:00 PM. Why do fans absolutely need to add your performance to their calendars and what can they expect from it?

My performance on the CMA Fest Spotlight Stage is guaranteed to make you dance along! I will also be playing new music off my EP “It’s Personal” that will be released June 23rd! So anyone who stops by will get a sneak peak of new music! We always have a great time at my shows and this one won’t be any different! I hope people have a blast!

3) Besides the performance itself, are you taking part in any other events throughout CMA Fest weekend?

Yes! I have a pretty big CMA week! Kicking things off on Monday I’ll be playing with The Song Suffragettes at The Listening Room Cafe and will be hosting and interviewing artists all week for PickleJar! It will be a fun week leading up to my first CMA Fest performance, and I am just so excited!

4) Let’s talk new music…You mentioned that you have a new EP coming out later this summer, It’s Personal. Tell us a little bit about the EP.

I felt like it was time to put out a new project that resembles where I am at in life. I look at EP’s/albums as milestones and compared to my past music, this EP is much more mature and authentic to me. I titled the EP “It’s Personal” because I truly feel these songs are all important topics in my life currently. Whether it’s writing songs about my favorite drink or about my hometown, this new project gives listeners a glimpse into who I am and I hope they love it as much as I do. I have been writing a lot so there will be more music around the corner! The fun never stops!

5) You’ve already given us a few teasers from it, starting off with “Well Tequila.” What did you feel it was about that song that made it the perfect first introduction to this next chapter of music?

I wanted to start off 2023 on a high note and with a fun upbeat drinking song and “Well Tequila” was the perfect song! The rest of the songs on the EP are a bit more tamed and sentimental, but it ain’t country music without a drinking song! I love the energy “Well Tequila” brings to the EP and starts it off strong!

6) Shifting from the Friday night feel of “Well Tequila” to the soft pace of “White Dress Worthy.” What an incredible song! Why did you feel it was so important to get that advice leaning lyric out there during this wedding season?

I felt like it was the perfect time to get that song out there and into the world! I wanted to give a reminder that if you’re single, in a relationship, or getting married no matter what, don’t rush into something so special. Wait until you find that person you cannot live without. Wait until you find someone who is white dress worthy!

7) Is there one song on the EP that you cannot wait for your fans to hear? Why that song? What does it mean to you personally?

It is hard to pick a favorite song on this EP, but my favorite one I have written is called “I Hope Heaven’s Like.” Every line in this song is true and it is my most personal song. It has a very reflective, nostalgic tone and I love singing it out! I am eager to see how fans respond to the song, especially in my hometown.

8) 2022 was a big year for you with well-received single releases “Vintage,” “Hometown Bar,” “Whiskey Whispers Your Name,” and “Beautiful Is You.” Coming off such a string of hot releases, in what ways do you feel this new material is an extension of those songs, but also in what ways does it show your growth as a songwriter and performer most?

I feel like I am finally finding my voice and discovering what I want to write about. As I continue to grow as an artist and a songwriter, I sometimes can’t believe how far I have come. I feel like my new music is authentic and true to me. Before I was writing just to write and what I thought could be played on country radio. But now, I write for myself and put out the songs I feel most connected to, and hope others feel the same.

9) On the subject of “Beautiful Is You,” the song was out for Breast Cancer Awareness month. Tell us more about your campaign alongside the Susan G. Komen Foundation and how important this song is to you on a personal level.

I wrote this song during a time in my life when I was battling with self-image issues. Since writing this song, I have grown and learned to love myself. However, this is still an everyday battle. I thought if I was going through these insecurities maybe others were too, so might as well write a song that reminds us all that we are beautiful, worthy, and loved even when we don’t feel like it. Self-love is preached but is honestly very difficult. I’ve had fans tell me when they have bad days, they throw on this song and it helps them remember that who they are is enough and that true beauty lies within and that is what makes this whole music thing worth it. 

10) We always end with this one, but what one piece of advice can you offer to someone who is just starting out and trying to break into the music industry?

My one piece of advice would be to be yourself. Find yourself. Write good songs, write bad songs, find what ignites your passion and run with it! It is also important to surround yourself with people who love, support and believe in you and your craft. Be sure to put your blinders on, focus on yourself and believe in yourself. It is so easy to get caught up and start comparing yourself to others especially in Nashville, but every artist is different and has a different path. Be excited to see what path was meant for you. It might take time. Patience was a virtue…I had to learn but I am so thankful for. Chase every opportunity and most importantly enjoy every moment.



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