Over the last 36 years, the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Tenn. has earned a reputation for being an influential starting point for many country music artists. Owensboro’s 15-year-old Skylar Cain has a dream of being one of those artists. During an audition for the Sunday Night Writer’s Showcase, Skylar may have just gotten the exposure she was looking for.
In May of 2018, Skylar traveled with her family and friends to the Bluebird Cafe to audition for songwriter rounds. What happened while she was standing in line, her mom Michele said was really a “right place, right time thing.”
“She didn’t audition or anything,” Michele said. “She was just standing in line at the Bluebird.”
While Skylar was standing in a line of somewhere between 70 to 80 artists, a man in a Guitar Center T-shirt came by and pulled her out of the line. This action left both Skylar and Michele with the impression that Skylar might be used in a Guitar Center commercial or advertisement.
“We got to the Bluebird that day and they didn’t even tell us they were filming,” Michele said. “Skylar was waiting in line and someone came up to her and we thought it was a commercial for Guitar Center, not a documentary for the Bluebird Cafe. We had to stand out in the parking lot and wait for two hours and didn’t know what was going on.”
Michele was so convinced that Skylar had been part of filming a commercial that she said she checked the Guitar Center website often looking for commercial, until she finally thought they decided not to use Skylar.
Then, two Sundays ago, the family went back to the Bluebird with Skylar and younger sister Sophia, who is also a singer-songwriter. Michele said the girls were in the second set of sessions so they stayed until the very end. That’s when they were able to have a conversation with the owner of the Bluebird, who recognized Skylar right away.
According to Michele, the owner looked at Skylar and said, “You’re the girl from our documentary,” and preceded to show Skylar the actual part she played. A short while later, the owner sent Michele the link to the trailer that had been posted on Facebook.
The documentary the owner was referring to is “Bluebird,” which according to “Rolling Stone” magazine online is “a documentary about one of Nashville’s most celebrated and important venues” and “tells the story of the Bluebird Cafe, which has been a launching pad for new songwriters since 1982.” Other artists featured in the short film are Vince Gill, Taylor Swift, Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill, Kacey Musgraves, Garth Brooks and others.
Michele said Skylar did not have a speaking part in the documentary, but it appeared as if she was portraying a nervous first time artist up on stage.
“They asked me to go up on stage, fix my microphone, plug in my guitar, breathe in and breathe out and then play my song,” Skylar said of the experience, adding that she had to repeat that process three times on camera.
Professional country and bluegrass musician Randy Lanham has been working with Skylar as a musician and singer-songwriter admittedly “since she was little bitty.” Lanham said he has watched as Skylar, and her sister Sophia, have continued to develop and grow, especially as songwriters. So Lanham was incredibly proud that Skylar had the opportunity to play at the Bluebird Cafe, let alone be filmed there.
“So many great songwriters through the years have played there, so it’s really super cool that she’s playing there and was chosen for that documentary,” Lanham said. “She’s a great writer — she’s really good with melodies. I’m so proud of her for having the courage to go to the Bluebird and do those things.”
For Skylar, she is proud to say that she is “in a movie,” but, for her, playing at the Bluebird has gone from a TV show wish to a full color reality.
“I watch the show ‘Nashville’ and I’ve always wanted to perform at the Bluebird,” Skylar said. “I’m just trying to get my foot in the door and to get my music out there. It’s what I want to do with my life — this is just a really good gateway to the community with music.”
The documentary “Bluebird,” by director and producer Brian Loschiavo, will be featured at the South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival the week of March 8-17, in Austin, Texas in the “24 Beats Per Second” category.