Musically speaking, 2020 was a banner year for Ingrid Andress. After releasing her debut album Lady Like in March, she achieved her first No. 1 single with "More Hearts Than Mine" in April. By year's end, she was nominated for three Grammy Awards for Best Country Song for “More Hearts Than Mine,” Best Country Album and the coveted all-genre Best New Artist.

When Andress penned the title track off the album, which serves as her current single, it started as a pep talk to herself in defiance of the unrealistic stereotypes placed on women. But after a year plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic, the singer is seeing her work from a new perspective.

“When I first wrote the song, it was really more of an expression of how I was feeling as far as being a little frustrated with the confinements of stereotypes, especially with women. I feel like that's something that we've all been fighting for centuries, since the beginning of time,” she shares with Taste of Country in a phone interview about the song that makes such candid claims as “sometimes I forget not to talk about politics in the middle of me getting hit on."

"One day I was like, 'Fitting into a box is exhausting and I have so many other qualities that I like about myself, and just because they're not what society deems as 'lady like' doesn't make them any less valuable,'” she articulates. “So I wrote ‘Lady Like’ to empower myself and to remind myself that being yourself is great and you don't need to apologize.”

The Colorado native processes a wide array of emotions on Lady Like, describing the album as a “journey” that takes listeners through the emotions of broken relationships, being numb and missing “Feeling Things,” with a dash of nostalgia blended in.

Andress has also learned valuable lessons about what it means to be “lady like” from two women who have navigated the ebbs and flows of the music industry. Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman helped give the compassionate  “More Hearts Than Mine” even more of a lift when they joined Andress for a reimagination of the song featured on the deluxe edition of Lady Like.

In fact, it was “Lady Like” that caught the attention of the Grammy winners during Andress’ performance at the 2018 CMT Next Women of Country event.  They took the rising star under their wings and offering her words for the wise that reinforced that she is on the right course.

“One of the things that really was validating for me was when they were like, 'Always go with your gut because the bigger you get, the more people are going to be putting their opinions in of what you should or shouldn't do,” Andress explains. “That was really affirming because I already operate that way, I only go off of my gut. So it was almost like, 'Okay, I've been doing it right this whole time.’ Sometimes I can't explain to people why I do things, I just do it because it feels right. To know that is something that is suggested for female country artists is very reassuring.”

As the chart-topping singer observes the state of the world and divisiveness across the country, she’s finding new meaning in the song’s confident nature, hoping it serves as a message of not only self-acceptance but a symbol of the adage, "love thy neighbor."

“It's such an anxious time for people, and I feel like people are easily pointing fingers at others and bringing each other down and being hypercritical when really what we need to be right now is compassionate and leaders," she analyzes. “I feel like this song to me now takes on a whole new meaning because hopefully, it encourages people to be accepting of themselves and of other people, which I think is really important.”

In reflecting on the lessons provided to her by the tumultuous year that was 2020, Andress has discovered the value of soul-searching inward and expressing empathy outward.

"I have learned that you can be many emotions at the same time, but that does not identify who you are as a person. You’re allowed to experience feelings, but that's not you at the end of the day,” she reflects. “I’ve also learned that we can judge people all we want, but we really have no idea what they're going through. And as much as it seems like judging people will fix your problems, it’s actually the opposite, it’s being more compassionate."

"I've learned to have more grace on others and myself because there's a lot of high standards I feel like society is holding everybody to," she professes, calling back to the original meaning of "Lady Like."

"You're allowed to mess up, that means you're human.”

The 2021 Grammy Awards were slated to air on Jan. 31, but have been postponed until March 14 due to the coronavirus pandemic. They will air on CBS beginning at 8PM ET.

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