Growing up in Sterling, Nicolle Galyon thrived on the rush of seeing stars perform live at the Kansas State Fair.
Now, that passion will come full circle when Dan + Shay take the grandstand stage Saturday.
She helped write their current hit, "Tequila."
Nicolle admits, hearing her music still gives her goosebumps. And that happens a lot: the Nashville producer and songwriter has had her music reach No. 1 on Billboard Country Airplay, certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America and Platinum by Music Canada.
“It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve heard a song on the radio. The first time I hear it back home is a completely unique experience,” said Nicolle, a songwriter and record producer based in Nashville, who co-wrote “Tequila” with Jordan Reynolds and Dan Smyers.
“It’s as if 17-year-old me is listening to a song I wrote, and it feels like my past and my present collide," she added. "It’s really indescribable.”
Her mother LaMonna Galyon remembered driving her daughter to Hutchinson to see the shows at the State Fair.
“That grandstand is where we used to stand outside to get tickets, and now to have her song sung in the grandstand -- that is indescribable. We used to sit in the stands together and just be full-out fans,” LaMonna said.
“Being a fan is how all that started for her.”
A babysitter first taught Nicolle piano when she was 5, and she quickly progressed.
“Music was as natural as breathing for her,” LaMonna said. “It’s in her DNA, I guess.”
LaMonna and Nicolle started taking regular trips to Nashville when Nicolle was 13. Initially, it was just to the Country Music Association festival, then called Fan Fair, but the pair traveled all over to see their favorites perform.
“I think to this day I love my job because I’m still the ultimate fan of country music. I still can’t wait until midnight on Thursday nights for new records to come out, and I still get butterflies when the lights go down before a concert,” Nicolle said. “I know those trips with my mom planted those seeds that ultimately built a passion in me that put me on a path toward making music.”
“Tequila” is nominated for the CMA Song of the Year and Single of the Year. The winner will be announced at the CMA award ceremony on Nov. 14.
The CMA only recognizes songwriters in the Song of the Year category, though the Academy of Country Music offers a Songwriter of the Year award.
For now, she’s still in awe.
“We spent a month in Sterling this summer, and I can’t tell you how many times I heard one of my songs on the radio at the local swimming pool with my kids," Nicolle said. "I would sit there quietly, watch my kids play and think to myself 'Who would have ever thought?' and just have a moment of gratitude.”