Nashville singer/songwriter Stephanie Quayle is returning to her native Montana for the Big Sky Songwriter’s Festival Aug. 15 – 19. Quayle will take part in many of the workshops and panels and also perform live at the festival. Contributor René Kraus interviewed Quayle on the phone this summer as a precursor to the festival.

By René Kraus Explorebigsky.com Contributor

NASHVILLE – Born in Bozeman, Stephanie Quayle grew up on a bison ranch where music played at home seven days a week.

As a young girl, Quayle sang in a choir, gave impromptu performances and did anything she could to expose herself to music. She wrote her first song at age 12, yet didn’t really see music as a career option.

That view changed during her time as an exchange student in Switzerland. There, she was introduced to a Swiss band and performed with them all over Switzerland. From that experience, she knew music was her future—but not yet specifically country music.

Quayle moved to Los Angeles after high school, looking to find her way. But, she says, she soon tired of the L.A. dictates on who she should be, how she should look, what she should wear, and especially, how she should sing.

Then, in 2009, she suffered the loss of a loved one, a profound experience that changed her entire outlook. Quayle knew she had to bring more to her craft than just songs—she wanted to infuse them with a sense of drive and determination, and through her music, demonstrate the support and encouragement she received during a difficult time in her life.

That fall, Quayle was invited to Maria Shriver’s Women’s Conference, where she performed and shared her story. Also that year, she self-released “Ain’t No Housewife,” which is now available on iTunes.

When Quayle moved to Nashville in November of 2011, she knew she’d found home. “Here, everyone speaks my language, or I speak theirs,” she says. There, Quayle finds it easy to express her various sides—a humanitarian, an artist and a songwriter. It’s a supportive and exhilarating environment for a musician, she says.

Today, her musical influences include Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire. Quayle loves the ‘old country’ style and heart, yet also listens to contemporary artists such as Miranda Lambert. She has performed all over the country in pursuit of her dreams.

At the first annual Big Sky Songwriters Festival this August, Quayle is looking forward to introducing her music colleagues to her original home. This event is the start of something extraordinary, she says.

Quayle has been a friend of the festival founder and organizer, David Goodwin, for many years. When he invited her to perform, she readily agreed, but knew that wasn’t quite enough for her. She wanted to help bring the energy, passion and excitement of this type of event to Montana, to help it grow into a Big Sky institution.

“When it’s right, it’s very easy and natural,” Quayle said. “That’s how it is to be working to bring awareness of this event and helping to make it a major event for Big Sky. It’s fun and just right for me.”

Next up for Stephanie Quayle: working on a collection of songs that are not just OK, but exceptional. She regularly consults a “wall of songs” in her studio, where each work in progress is categorized by its emotional content. She hopes to have this collection ready for performing and recording sometime in 2013.

Meanwhile, Quayle is regularly performing in the bars, cafés and hole-in-the-wall joints that make Nashville so special. After one recent performance at which she followed music legend Jerry Foster on stage, Quayle received her greatest professional compliment.

After she performed, Foster approached her. “You are the future of country music,” he said.

For more information on Stephanie Quayle, visit stephaniequayle.com.