Songwriter Lauren Hungate Cutting a Solid Path to Musical Success with Strategy and Talent

Songwriter Lauren Hungate remembers clearly when she decided to go all in. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that she made the decision to give up her day job, put pen to paper on a fulltime basis, and pursue life as a songwriter with vim and vigor.

“It’s weird when you are switching from the comfort and safety of a full-time job to parttime work to do something that doesn’t have any sort of guarantee,” she says, recalling the season when she decided to pursue her songwriting journey professionally. “I was thinking to myself, ‘I’m leaving my fulltime job to be an independent songwriter where I’ll make zero money writing songs. Not sure if I’ll ever have a publishing deal or if anyone will ever cut my songs, or if I could even be successful at this,” she recalls. “But if you love something so much that you are willing to do it for free, it might be a good indicator that this is what you should be doing,” she adds.

This thought process has proven to carve a remarkable path for Lauren, preceded by hard work, talent, strategic thinking and lots of gumption.

Hungate, maiden name Lee, is a native of Franklin, TN. Born and raised in the area, she is a graduate of Franklin High School. Raised in an athletic family, music was never on her radar. “I come from an athletically gifted family,” she quips. “I however don’t have a single sporty thread in my body,” she adds with a chuckle. “My Dad was a professional golfer, my brother was a Division 1 wrestler, my Mom was involved in sport activities, and then there was me,” she laughs.

In middle school, Lauren remembers she had to take an arts elective. One semester of guitar and piano. She caught on and her interest was peaked. “My parents immediately put me in lessons. They were so supportive. They still are. I fell in love with it. I didn’t really know what to do with it. I didn’t know about songwriting or singing. I liked playing piano.” she recalls. “I started playing keyboard and singing background in my youth group. I knew I was just really interested in music.”

Lauren would continue playing and singing throughout her younger years but songwriting wasn’t something that crossed her mind. “Being raised where I was, you’d think music might be something on the table. It’s all around us, but it just wasn’t.”

Lauren went to college at the small liberal arts school of Lee University, majoring in church music. “I thought, ‘maybe I want to be a worship pastor. I started the degree and got my first job in a church. I quickly found out I did not want to be a worship pastor,” she remembers. “I loved being in a band but didn’t enjoy the attention of being the front person. I would rather be in the background. Half way through, I switched to music business,” she recalls.

Lauren had to do a two-part thesis for her senior year. “One part was written and the other had to be either a recital or we had to turn in 5 recorded works. The recital sounded terrifying. I wrote and recorded the songs instead. I literally wrote 5 songs and came home to record them through a friend of a friend. That was my only experience with songwriting until later.”

Lauren and her husband Mickey got married right out of college. She graduated in 2016 and began interning at Dark Horse Studios in Franklin. When only part-time work was available, she got a fulltime job with Red Light Management and worked under Mary Hilliard. Red Light is home to a well-known diverse roster of artists from all genres like Dave Matthews Band, Luke Bryan, Chris Stapleton, Lady A, Alabama Shakes and more. Lauren was Mary’s assistant. “She is one tough lady,” Lauren says. “I always say I learned more at that job than I did in college, my first year of songwriting or any other. I learned it’s ok to create your own opportunity. If Mary wanted to create a festival, she didn’t wait for someone else to do it. She would dive in and just create it. Out of thin air. She taught me a lot. I worked there from 2016-2018 and then randomly got an offer to work for Capitol Records Christian and was there from 2018-2019.”

It was at Capitol that Lauren moved to the artist side, something that would prove valuable for seeing the industry from the inside/out.

In the fall of 2018, she received a random call from a former college classmate, now competing on The Voice, that would encourage Lauren’s songwriting journey. “This friend called out of the blue, and explained she had a management deal and they wanted her to do some writing. She remembered the 5-song EP I recorded in college and asked if I’d be interested in coming to California and co-writing with her,” she recalls.

Lauren went and while nothing ever came of the songs, she discovered her love of cowriting. “That was my first co-write. I came back knowing I liked co-writing, I liked writing for an artist. I liked having a purpose behind what I was writing.”

This was the impetus for how she pursued her craft from that point forward. “I came back, started reaching out to publishers, artists, and just asking if anyone would like to co-write.” She became strategic in her pursuit. She began writing 4-5 days a week but still working during the day and writing at night.

“It got to the point where it was like working two full time jobs. Working during the day and then writing until 10 o’clock every night,” she remembers. “It just wasn’t sustainable. I had to make a decision and I knew I wasn’t going to quit writing.”

If you’re doing the math, Lauren didn’t start writing until Sept. 2018. A year later, in August 2019, she decided to quit her fulltime job at Capitol, switching to part time work with them for a few months after that. Then, she pursued part time jobs that would allow her the flexibility to write. Two years after working behind the scenes in the music industry, Lauren took the leap to pursue songwriting full-time.

“It’s very humbling to go from 40 hours a week and a full-time salary, to working part-time to pursue songwriting fully,” she recalls. But she knew this was what she wanted to do. The leap of faith paid off. She signed her first publishing deal.

In 2021, Concord Music Publishing/Chromatic Music launched a new creative joint venture called Chromatic Music. Founder and highly acclaimed songwriter Tofer Brown took notice of Lauren’s work.

In Music Row Magazine, Tofer called Lauren, “…without a doubt one of the best writers in Nashville. She writes well beyond her years.... I can think of no one else I’d rather have as the first writer signed to Chromatic Music.” Incredibly high praise coming from Brown, a chart topping songwriter who also penned music for the title track for Lady A’s Ocean, as well as Little Big Town’s Platinum single “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” and Jon Pardi’s award-winning hit “Night Shift.”

Concord/Chromatic signed Lauren in January 2022, with a worldwide publishing deal covering her entire catalog.

Courtney Allen, Senior Director of A&R at Concord Music Publishing is a fan. “Lauren Hungate is the kind of new writer that only comes around once in a blue moon. When you hear the quality of her songs, it’s easy to forget that she’s only been writing songs for a few years. In the writer’s room, not only does she have incredible and unique ideas, but she delivers them in a way that is so impactful, just as any veteran craftsman writer that I know does. She has the talent and skills that you’re born with, not taught.”

The trajectory of Lauren’s career is only going up. She has found exactly what she wants to do and others are taking notice. She’s had songs recorded by Ella King, Chrissy Metz, Republic Records/Big Loud artist Lily Rose, has worked with artists/writers such as: Cam, Karen Fairchild (Little Big Town), Raelynn, Nicolle Gaylon, Lori Mckenna, Craig Wiseman, Charles Kelly (Lady A), Maddie and Tae and more.

In 2020, Lauren was the only female pick for BMI Buzz’s class of 2020. She co-wrote Big Loud artist Ashland Craft’s “When a Cowboy’s Heart Breaks,” has multiple songs with Republic Records/Big Loud artist Lily Rose, including Lily’s single “Overnight Sensation,” which was featured as Rolling Stone’s “Country Pick of the Week.” She even showed up in People Magazine in Summer 2022 in a spread about the Latest Girls of Nashville – Inside the Female-Focused Night of Songs in Music City.

While athletics might not have been her calling, songwriting and music have proven to be. With a humble attitude and undeterrable spirit, Lauren Hungate is primely positioned to take her writing to greater heights.

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