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Macy Martin is not your typical country pop star, though you could be fooled by her storybook origins. Born in College Station, Texas, she spent much of her early life on a ranch. A child who always loved to sing, her public debut as a solo performer, aged thirteen, was at a music night at the historic local general store down the road from her home. That night with the help of her parents and a hastily produced Taylor Swift karaoke track she started wowing crowds with her voice. Initially it was a hobby, but by her high school years word of her had reached Nashville. Dolly Parton band leader and producer, Kent Wells reached out to her, brought her and her family to music city, and steadily and surely, she became a professional musical artist.

Macy is, however, much more than the cliff-notes of her life suggest. When she recorded her first album in Texas, in fact, her music was simply a hotly pursued avocation “I was going to go into law, or be a doctor,” she says of initial ambitions, “I was like, this is so fun, to be able to record this album, this’ll be a good dining room conversation I can have one day.” Even as her presence grew, and she was performing at Miss America pageants, charity events for the Special Olympics, the Texas Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald Houses around the state, she still saw herself pursuing a conventional life.

When she came to Nashville and began working with Kent Wells, that changed immediately. Their creative chemistry was undeniable, and it produced such hits as Back to Reality, a track which takes fairy-tale tropes and flips them on their head. Wells has been a consistent influence, and a close personal friend ever since. “Kent and his wife, Donna… they’re like a second set of parents,” says Macy of their relationship, “If they’d been around earlier in my life, we joke that they’d be my godparents.

Her music has always followed along with her personal evolution. Debut single Me With You through full album Find My Melody see her backed by country-rock instrumentation, and telling stories of young love and self-discovery. By the time of Heart Sleeve Soul, and Broke Down, however, she’s playing with a stronger pop aesthetic vocally and instrumentally, and the themes of her songs become more fiery and grounded. That said, she never loses sight of her country roots.

“A lot of people would say that the songs I sing aren’t ‘country music’, but I think the message, the story, and the realness of a song is what defines the country genre,” she says of her work, “It’s real, and raw. It’s me, my own skin… but from when I was sixteen to now, I’m very different… the songs that I’m writing now reflect my journey into another phase of my life.” In her latest release, Take It Now, her development as a singer is undeniable. Her trademarks are still very present, there’s always a banjo and a guitar on the track, but lyrically she is going deeper than ever before. “From now to tomorrow, there will be another piece added to who I am as a person. That’s true of me, and my music.”

Macy has also long been a charitable ambassador. This began in her Miss America days. “As an only child I had tons of toys… I had to give a few away, so we gave them to my hometown’s fire department to give to needy kids,” she says of her start in philanthropy, “It grew and grew, and there became a day called ‘Macy’s Toy Box’ in my hometown.” Macy began making visits to hospitals to sing to, and play with, sick kids. This became her platform in the Miss America Pageant, and lead to the creation of a toy that has meant a great deal to those same children, “He’s called Tumbles the Teddy Bear… you can donate him to a kid any age in the hospital.” To this day Tumbles can be bought on her website and either kept, or donated to a child. Serving as a give back, either way, the profits return to the organization to provide a “Tumbles” Teddy Bear to be hand delivered to the patients of children’s hospitals.

When she’s not in front of a microphone, Macy spends her time either with her family, or studying. She is pursuing a Music Business degree at Belmont University, and shares her Nashville home with faithful pup Wrangler.