Nfld. & Labrador·First Listen

What do Paige Penney of St. John's and Taylor Swift have in common? Their debut albums

When 14-year old Paige Penney of St. John’s decided to record Watch Out For Your Step, her first album of original songs, she decided to think big and record it in Nashville.

Have a First Listen to Watch Out For Your Step by Paige Penney

14-year-old Paige Penney of St. John's recorded her debut EP, Watch Out For Your Step, in the same Nashville studio where Taylor Swift recorded her debut album in 2006. (Amanda Penney, The Old Saltbox Co.)

When 14-year old Paige Penney of St. John's decided to record Watch Out For Your Step, her first album of original songs, she decided to think big.

"I wanted to make it really special, something I would remember for the rest of my life," she said.

Penney started an online campaign to raise funds to record her debut EP in Nashville, and raised enough money to reach her goal.

"I was like, 'Imagine if I could go to Taylor Swift's studio, where she recorded her first album,'" she said.

With help from her parents, Penney did some research and located Dark Horse Recording, the Nashville studio where Taylor Swift recorded her self-titled debut album in 2006.  

"And I said, 'Well, let's record there,' 'cause I love Taylor Swift."

Paige Penney got to record in the same Nashville studio as her idol, Taylor Swift. (Valheria Rocha Photography/Universal Music)

Musical life and family

Penney has been making music all her life. She plays guitar, piano, bass and trumpet, and sings with Shallaway Youth Choir. She said her entire family is musical. 

She started writing songs with her father, singer/songwriter Kirk Penney, who has done some work in Nashville himself, when she was about 10 years old.

By the time she was 13, she had half a dozen songs that she wanted to record.  

Hear Paige Penney talk about recording her debut EP

For her debut album, Watch Out for Your Step, Paige Penney of St. John's really went for it 15:24

Penney said her Nashville recording session turned out be everything she had hoped for.

"The people there were amazing, and the musicians were amazing," said Penney.

"Some of them had worked there when Taylor was there, and they were like,  'Oh my God, you'd love her.'"

All-star local band 

Penney's St. John's album release party, to be held May 24 at the Space, also features some local heavy hitters.

Her backup band includes Elliott Dicks of The Novaks on drums, Darren "Boobie" Browne on guitar, and Josh Ward of Hey Rosetta! on bass.

Oh, and she has backing vocal support from The Once, on the title track of her EP.

"I sang with them a couple years back on their Christmas concert," explained Penney.

"And now they're in my music video, too."

'You can't be afraid of anything'

Penney attributes her early success to hard work, being prepared, and having the support of her family.

And one more thing.  

"If I didn't have the guts to say, 'Let's do Nashville,' it wouldn't have happened," said Penney.

"You can't be afraid of anything."

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About the Author

Heather Barrett is the host and producer of Weekend AM on CBC Radio One in Newfoundland and Labrador.