From pet sitting to publishing deals: Baylor University graduate finds success in country music

Baylor alumna Trani Anderson has been nominated for Song of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards. Photo courtesy of Trani Anderson

Written by Kalina Reynolds | Reporter

Baylor graduate Trani Anderson was nominated for Song of the Year at the Country Music Awards for co-writing Lanie Wilson’s song “Heart Like A Truck.”

Anderson said she grew up with a musical talent that drew her to storytelling, and she found her passion for songwriting when she was 7 years old. The craft came naturally to Anderson, and she found success through her talent and drive.

“My mother said when I was a little kid that she was going to put me in this little swing, and I would sit there and sing tunes that you had never heard before,” Anderson said. “My response to anything in life is music.”

Anderson said she began writing Christian music as a child, and it evolved into a band with her high school classmates. However, its style and genre have evolved over time.

“My senior year of high school and college, I became really obsessed with country music,” Anderson said. “I didn’t know that would be the best choice for my writing. But I grew up a little bit outside of Waco in McGregor, and my family had cattle, and I grew up hunting and fishing with my dad, so it’s like I can write about this lifestyle from a very honest place.”

In her freshman year of college, Anderson won a songwriting competition called “Texas Songwriter U,” which helped launch her career. After graduation, I moved to Nashville and began pursuing a music publishing deal.

During this time, Anderson lived with other Baylor graduates. To make money, she created a dog-sitting business for touring country artists called “Pup Stars Pet Services,” which she sold in 2021. Dan + Shay, Hunter Hayes, and several other prominent country artists were Anderson’s clients.

“It was really cool because I was staying at the homes of artists I wanted to write songs for a day, and I got to build a real friendship with some of them,” Anderson said.

Anderson now writes for some of the country artists she has sat down with. Dan + Shay released a new album on September 15, featuring Anderson.

A few of these relationships led her to take meetings with publishing companies, which led to her first publishing deal. I’ve worked at Sony Publishing for five years.

“I’ve done a couple of independent cuts, but I’ve never had any major label cuts, or been with any artist who had a track on the radio,” Anderson said. “I was definitely taking a gamble. They signed a contract of raw talent, I think.

A week before moving to Nashville, Anderson received Lainey Wilson’s phone number from a mutual friend.

“We stayed in touch and remained friends in the years that followed, and then we ended up at Sony,” Anderson said.

A few years later, Dallas Wilson, one of Anderson’s best friends and co-writers, suggested they write a song with Lenny Wilson. The first song they wrote together was “Heart Like A Truck,” which has over 100 million streams on Spotify.

“Dallas started playing guitar and played a chord progression that became a progression in the verse, and Lainey and I started singing some melodies over it, and it just felt right,” Anderson said.

“Heart Like A Truck” was featured in a Dodge Ram commercial and was nominated for Song of the Year and Song of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards.

With humble beginnings, Woodway freshman Adelaide Laborde said she believes the new country stars have the potential to reach legendary status.

“It’s really nice when a woman like Lenny Wilson is putting out good songs,” Laborde said. “Lenny Wilson and Trani (Anderson) have a real chance to become big stars like Dolly Parton.”

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