Could you walk away from your dream?
If one of your life’s goals was handed to you, tantalizingly close, right there for the taking, could you say no?
Sydney Lett did. The decision to do it led her to North Carolina, and eventually to a partnership with us here at Harrison’s. Now she’s chasing her dream again.
“I’m working on writing my first record,” she said. “I’m really excited. I’m finally figuring out who I am as a person and as an artist, and it’s been a long time coming. I grew up in a tiny town in Iowa. I moved to Nashville. I moved to North Carolina. And now, I think I’ve found my heart here more than I ever have anywhere.”
That first move, the one to Nashville, was everything Sydney was hoping for – right up until it wasn’t.
“I was 19 years old,” she said. “I walked into what I thought was going to be my dream deal, and I was really excited about it. Country is my roots. My grandpa cut me a circle out of wood when I was young so I could pretend I was playing the Grand Ole Opry."
As it turns out, that walk into her dream deal wasn’t a walk she was willing to take.
“I walked into that meeting and they wanted to change everything about me,” she said. “They wanted me to dye my hair black, and they wanted me to weigh 90 pounds, and they wanted me to sing all these songs that I didn’t believe in.”
So she didn’t. She turned down the deal. She did it, she said, for the little girl she once was, and for a little girl who might hear her one day.
“It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I couldn’t look at my 14-year-old self and say ‘you have to change everything about you, or you won’t be worthy’,” she said. “So, I did it for her, and I did it for a little girl who I hope I meet in a crowd one day who I hope I can inspire to be themselves, too.”
When she left Nashville, Sydney’s background gave her a destination. But why Mooresville?
“It was NASCAR,” she said with a laugh. “I grew up singing at Iowa Speedway when I was 12 or 13. I met a lot of my closest friends in the sport. When I walked away from my record deal in Nashville, I just decided to up and move everything around. I ended up here, and it’s the best decision I ever made. I love it here.”
Sydney’s past also helped drive her passion. She channeled what she was feeling into what she felt a calling to do.
“I realized that my horses knew me a lot better than anybody that I was working with,” she said. “I had three or four really great team members in Nashville who believed in me. I saw who I wanted to be, and who I grew up wanting to be. It did not align with what that town was telling me to be. So I decided to rescue ponies and that’s what I think my heart believes in more than what I was being told to be.”
The deep connection Sydney feels with her rescue animals is evident.
“About two years ago, I started pulling horses from kill pens around the area,” she said. “It just kind of turned in to this big thing that I knew I was meant to do. It’s a giant passion of mine, and it always has been. They have so much gratitude. You see God so much, and you see yourself in these broken animals. You realize they’re saving you as much as you’re saving them. It’s a giant thing that I’ll always fight for no matter how hard it is. They make my soul happy.”
Her effort has grown to include multiple horses, goats, a donkey, cows, a sheep, chickens, and seven dogs on a 25-acre farm with a four-wheeler and a tractor.
“It’s not a giant working farm yet, but I’m bringing a little bit of Iowa to North Carolina,” she said.
Rescuing horses has its own set of challenges, some of which Sydney is able to boil down to a simple approach.
“It’s hard,” she said. “You just have to be vulnerable and honest. You have to know when it’s time to let go, and you have to be brave enough to see what they need, even if that’s not what you want. It’s not always the happy ending. Sometimes it’s just a soft place to land and letting them feel love for however long you can. It’s not for the weak of heart, but I feel like the love they take with them when they go is worth the pain I feel when I lose them.”
Honesty and vulnerability are things Sydney sees as essential to the songwriting process as well.
“I think that it’s a gut feeling and when you feel like you have something big to say, no matter what that is, you have to be brave enough to say it,” she said. “With my story and with what I want to do in my career, I hope I inspire the next generation to be confident about telling their story. Be honest. Be vulnerable.”
And now, the little girl who loved horses and barrel racing almost as much as she loved music has come full circle, and has a new lease not only on what she wants to do in life but on her creative process, and on herself as a person.
“When I left Nashville I think everything I was saying was not true to who I was. I had to completely scale everything back and get a horse again,” she said. “And then it was two, and then five, and now I’m just trying to let myself spend time with them, and trying to be the girl they see. They see me for who I am, even when I can’t see it. When I’m so clouded by needing validation from the industry, by wondering if these songs are good enough to be on the radio, they give me the courage to just write what’s in my heart, and in my soul, and to be honest about that.”
We’re proud to have Sydney Lett as an ambassador for the Harrison’s brand. Look for her on our social media accounts, at various store events, and at music venues throughout the South.