Tenille Arts’ ‘Call You Names’ Is the Mom Song You’re Looking For
Tenille Arts admits she was a sullen, painfully shy teenager who at times was very hard on her mother. Her new song "Call You Names" is an attempt to make it right.
The 24-year-old Canadian singer and songwriter tells Taste of Country that until age 14 she and her mom were great friends, but then she changed. Familiar story, right?
"I couldn't wait to break your chains / So I called you names," Arts sings during her just-released single, but as she was living at home trying to figure out how to break those metaphorical chains (i.e. move to Nashville) she realized how hard her mother worked for her.
“She was at home doing a million things and really keeping the house together and I got to see all of that," Arts says. "That’s when I realized, ‘Oh my gosh.’ She was doing a lot and I never appreciated it."
It was typical teenage stuff that earned her an early curfew and — in her opinion — much more scrutiny than her younger sister. She describes a longing to stay out late and party, plus a deep dive inward as she explored songwriting and tried to figure out who she was. During this time Arts was being supported in school and music lessons, but only later did she see what was truly happening.
"When I saw her holding me back she was really just protecting me from doing stupid things," she says before a flight to Cleveland to continue an expansive radio tour.
James T. Slater helped Arts write "Call You Names," but really, the song wrote itself.
"I really think it was a God thing," the singer says. "It just kind of felt like these things were coming to me and I was just simply pressing record on my voice memo.”
Her mother and grandmother got to hear it in person before Arts opened up for Reba McEntire recently in Canada. It was just the two of them in the hotel room listening to their little girl sing "I call you mama, my best friend / My everything 'til the end / I call you my angel, I call you a saint / Yeah, I call you names."
"I could barely do the picking part yet and I was really still working on it, but I played it for her and she was crying, my grandma was crying and it was kind of a big moment for me.”
It's a personal song that's representative of the sound on her 2017 album Rebel Child, as well as the new music she's working on. Look for Arts to continue to travel back and forth between the U.S. and Canada in 2019. Her official website lists a number of radio shows and festivals through August.
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