For East Tennessee native Tara Thompson, a career in country music wasn't just a career choice; it's the family business.
Thompson, whose grandmother is first cousins with country legend Loretta Lynn, draws influence from her famous family member and prides herself on her traditional sound.
The country great has taught Thompson many things over the years but her most important lesson is "be yourself."
"We're a close family and she's given me great advice," Thompson told FOX411 Country of Lynn. "When I opened up for her one time and told her I'm putting together an album, I told her, 'Don't worry, I'm keeping it really country.' She told me, 'Don't worry about keeping it country, just be you.' And I just so happen to be really country!"She added, "Loretta told me to be as real as I can and I really took that advice because I think she's the realest person I've ever met. I get a lot of my sassiness from her."
No one was happier than Lynn when Thompson signed with Big Machine, the same label as pop star Taylor Swift.
"I told Loretta I got my record deal and she told me, 'It's about damn time!'"
Honesty and a knack for storytelling are traits she learned from Lynn.
"All of my songs are my own stories," Thompson told us. "I don't sing love songs because [my influence] goes back to my life experiences and right now I'm single and the only love in my life are my dogs and my family so I don't want to sing about love songs. I don't want to be that girl."
Thompson's lyrics sometimes get her into trouble. Her song "Vows" which describes how she thought her sister's wedding would go was anything but PC.
"I'll give you a years supply of cigarettes if they make it past Labor Day," she sings. "Hey I just saw the groom making out with a bridesmaid/ If she's still got a ring by Halloween, I'll throw in a case of Crown/ This blessed union is destined to go down/ Yeah, we're all taking bets while they're saying vows."
While she admits to embellishing the story slightly, her song is truthful to her life; including "Vows" which was a tough one to explain to her sister.
"That wedding never happened," Thompson, whose EP "Someone to Take Your Place" is out now, shared. "I thought it would get me in trouble because I am brutally honest. But I learned it's always better to ask for forgiveness than permission. If it upsets [some], I want people to think, 'At least she's being real and honest.' Oh well."
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