Annie Bosko’s debut EP, Fighter, is aptly named. The six-song project offers a cross-section of her life and music, but underlying it all is the undying grit and determination that brought her to Nashvile to chase her musical dreams in the first place.

It was an easy decision to title the EP after the powerful ballad, Bosko tells Taste of Country. “I gravitate toward more uplifting, inspiring songs,” she says, adding that when she wrote “Fighter” with two of her closest friends, Danny Myrick and Monica Madrid, they were all struggling with various burdens in their personal lives, as well as the endless career worries of being a musician.

“It was cathartic for all of us, and then the more that I sang it live, I would just see people start crying and coming up to me afterward, saying, ‘Oh my god, that song … I needed to hear that tonight, thank you so much. My mom has cancer, or I’ve been going through this right now …’ a breakup or whatever, just everyday life stuff,” she shares.

The song even connected with a particularly tough audience at one of Bosko’s prison gigs. “I had an auditorium of 200 inmates chanting, ‘Fighter! Fighter! Fighter!’ as they were walking out, and I saw these guys with tears in their eyes … these hardcore dudes,” she recalls. “I’ve gotten to sing it for veterans and all kinds of people, and it’s just resonated as one of the strongest, most impactful songs I’ve ever written. It’s something that’s much bigger than me … there’s a greater power, and I really believe that, because that song continues to heal people and help people.”

“Fighter” is the anchor of a project that moves easily between that kind of serious material and more up-tempo, rocking songs like “Crooked Halo,” which has garnered more than 2 million streams on Spotify since it debuted last year, also finding a home at SiriusXM’s The Highway, Zuus and CMT. The song was inspired by a chance remark the singer-songwriter overheard at her younger sister’s graduation: “Everybody loves her, she’s an angel with a crooked halo.”

“Of course, the songwriter in me goes, ‘Oh my god, I have to write that,'” Bosko says with a laugh. “It’s about being imperfect; you have a heart, but you also have a little edge. A little spitfire, a little vinegar in you, too. I certainly identify with it a lot.”

“Wings” is another key track.

“It’s sort of autobiographical,” Bosko acknowledges. “I left home knowing that I could always come back, but I had to go spread my wings for a while. Those are your roots. It’s a part of you, it’s who you are. It’s representative of where you come from, and you take that with you everywhere.”

“Cash” and “Coal Black Heart” demonstrate other dimensions to her music, and her sense of humor is in evidence on “You Look Like I Need a Drink,” a playful track with an unusual, Beatle-esque bridge. “I think people need that. You need escapism, and you need to laugh, and if people can laugh and cry in my shows be emotionally moved and laugh, and feel like they’ve escaped then I’ve done my job. I love entertaining people, so if I can get those two things out of them …”

Fighter is Bosko’s first EP release, but she’s been in Nashville for years now, chasing her dreams after being inspired by an early experience with the music business when she was 14, when she sang a song for the soundtrack of Little Mermaid II.“It was the first experience where I went, ‘Wait … you mean I can actually do this for a career?'”

Bosko’searly years in Music City were a struggle. A songwriting mentor told her, “You have to be naive enough to think it can really happen, and unafraid to fail.”

She’s run into the same female bias that has held country music in its grip for years, but Bosko feels like the business is finally seeing a shift.

“For a long time it was just, ‘Girls don’t work. We can’t sign girls. Girls don’t sell. We don’t want girls,'” she says. “It was that response for a really long time, and now it’s starting to change. I think people are wanting to see girls succeed, and I’m looking for the right partner I’ve had a couple of opportunities that weren’t right, but I think now that I’ve started doing things on my own, people want to get invested in something where the train is already moving, where they’re already kinda doing it.”

To that end, Bosko is planning two more EPs; one acoustic-based, and another culled from one of her live jailhouse performances. She will perform on the festival circuit over the summer, including appearances at Country Jam and the Taste of Country Music Festival, and will continue to utilize digital media strategies to bring her music to as many fans as possible, with the long-term goal of releasing a full-length album. True to the title of her Fighter EP, Bosko is undaunted by the long road in front of her.

“Because if you really looked at the statistics, realistically, why would you even try?” she asks rhetorically. “But I’m an artist. I’ve never really been a logical person in a lot of ways …I remember watching Chris Stapleton, like, two years ago at the Basement with the SteelDrivers, and it wasn’t a packed house, and it’s a small venue. But he was still doing it. A real artist, you’re gonna do it because this is what you do.”

For more information about Annie Bosko, visit her official website, or follow her on Twitter and Facebook. Bosko’s Fighter EP is available for download at iTunes.

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