Written by Isabella Margot
When Ellie Holcomb decided to turn her dreams into reality, she did it scared. Petrified, actually.
“[The hardest thing I ever did was] learn how to tell the truth. First to myself, and then to others.”
Born and raised in Nashville, TN, Ellie often jokes that she began her music career by accident. As a young girl, she made herself a few promises. First to never marry a musician or become one herself. And later she promised she would never marry her best friend , Drew Holcomb.
So, in 2014, when Ellie pushed “go” on a Kickstarter Campaign that launched her to the forefront of the Christian Music Industry, winning a Dove Award for Best New Artist was just one more thing she never dreamed would happen in her life.
Ellie grew up a die-hard perfectionist. Not the cute, endearing, type-A kind of perfectionist; no, Ellie was plagued by a fear that ran much deeper. Certain she didn’t measure up to some invisible standard of being, Ellie did what any young girl might do in her situation: she hid herself, and she hid herself deeply. So deeply, in fact, that for many years no one knew the real Ellie, including Ellie herself.
When Ellie first started writing music, she was touring in her husband’s band, Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors. Try as she might, however, Ellie couldn’t make her songs fit the band’s Americana-style of music. Drew encouraged her to keep writing, though, and eventually to release a project of her own. This vote of confidence unleashed the inner floodgates and the Ellie we know today began to surface.
“It’s been a long journey, but I’ve discovered that where there is truth, there really is freedom. I spent a lot of years hiding because I didn’t know it was ok to struggle or fail. Now I know those things are just a part of the journey.”
While seventeen-year old Ellie might have a panic attack if she saw herself today, it’s this level of honesty that has us so fascinated with Ellie and her music. True, she may not be glamorizing her struggles, but she definitely isn’t avoiding them either.
“Lots of people say that listening to my music feels like eavesdropping on my prayers, and that’s exactly what I write.”
Which explains why Ellie’s songs sound so genuine. It’s as if she’s singing them to herself, and about herself, while singing them for us, too.
“Beauty is a person being real and vulnerable, letting someone see what is really going on within the soul. Beauty hides within sorrow, because when we experience sorrow, there is something in our stories that is connected to every human story.”
Don’t get confused, though. The Ellie of today isn’t sad and blue. In fact, she is bright, quirky, and charming in a gently self-deprecating way that, well, honestly doesn’t even feel that deprecating. It feels like sincerity laced with levity at all of the right moments: a balance that could only be mastered by a person who’s learned the hard way not to take herself too seriously.
“Women were made to carry things. Children, grief, joy, hope, other peoples sorrows and joys...We are able to hold a lot of life inside of us, and walk with the people around us in a connected and beautiful way.”
Behind the birth of this artistic career currently boasting over 11 million spins on Spotify, is a woman’s whose day-to-day life is really just working two jobs she absolutely loves: making music and being a mom. Of course, this means she’s now no stranger to that ever elusive work-
“Mom-guilt is real. I am constantly walking in the tension of wanting to be faithful to do my work well and to do the beautiful work of parenting well. I feel pulled most days by both roles, and I feel like I’m constantly dropping the ball in one role or the other.”
Knowing she’ll never be the perfect parent, Ellie has chosen to embrace parenting as an opportunity to be an example of someone who owns the mistakes she makes and works to learn from them. On the mornings when her daughter seems upset to see her leave, Ellie does her best to put perspective on why she needs to go.
“I [...] tell her that I leave to go do the work I was made to do because I want her to know that, one day, when there is work she was made to do, and adventures she was made to take, I want her to go with her whole heart.”
I mean, c’mon. At this point, how are you not obsessed with this woman? Her understanding of life and femininity has us floored. Basically, we want on the Ellie train, wherever it’s going.
“I’m so glad that fear didn’t keep me from sharing the music I write.”
Us, too, Ellie. Us, too.
Stylist: Elliott Sikes Taylor
Photographer: Ashtin Paige
Written by: Isabella Margot
Makeup Artist + Hairstylist: Kat Derickson
Location: Thompson Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee