When Stephanie Quayle was presented with the choice to give into the darkness or chase the light, she decided to move forward and speak her truth.
For nearly 13 years – Quayle bottled up her grief and pain, leaving her to transform into an unfamiliar person. The day that changed the trajectory of Quayle's life was when she found out that her lover had died in a catastrophic plane crash. While coping with the unexpected loss, she discovered the unimaginable.
Her boyfriend of four years had other women in his life.
It was at the funeral that she stumbled upon the news, which caused her to fall into a downward spiral. CMT'S Next Women of Country member refers to this difficult period as "The Lost Years." There were moments when Quayle believed that the feeling of betrayal and the trauma would be too challenging to overcome. Instead of taking her redemption story to the grave – she used her voice.
The resilient singer-songwriter chronicles her heart-wrenching emotions and personal experience throughout "On The Edge," an eight-song collection. The forthcoming album will drop on Nov. 4 and take listeners on a journey as her vulnerability is on full display.
Quayle turned to the power of music in April 2021 after his daughter reached out seeking answers. She exclusively told CMT that the curious college student gave her the push to move and embark on this next chapter.
"It all started with his daughter — she had the courage to reach out to me and share that she was healing herself through her art. I then borrowed courage from my friends and family," shared the vocalist. "I knew that I had to allow these feelings to live outside of me. I no longer had to carry the weight of 13 years; the weight of censoring this chapter of my life and bottling up these emotions."
During a songwriter retreat with long-time collaborator Tori Tullier in the mountains, the two cultivated the lead single – "The Lost Years." Quayle placed her heart on the line in the poignant ballad, which serves as the beginning of the story.
While she hopes the razor-sharp lyrics and use of imagery give fans the desire to "face their truths" or "feel freedom," she said channeling her internal emotions was a weight lifted off her shoulders.
"I learned that healing, fear, and grief are part of my friendship circle now. That they walk beside me, not against me," explained the songstress. "That giving 'the lost years' a place to exist, putting them in a song, was extremely freeing. I didn't realize how much I was still holding back until I let it all pour out."
Quayle called in video producers Camille Bostick, Justin Key, and director Rachel Deeb to set the tone for the highly anticipated collection. The bone-chilling music video finds the Montana native dressed in black, mourning the years that passed by in a blink of an eye.
"I lost my way | I lost my soul | Lost too much weight| lost all control," she sang in confidence. "I laughed along | Not knowing I was the joke."
The live band instrumentals compliment Quayle's crystal clear vocals and emphasize her storytelling delivery. "The Lost Years" includes a riveting sound that we have never heard from the breakout star, one that the country community has been longing for. The simplicity of the clip holds significant meaning and is undeniably powerful.
"We created a scene that could carry through the entire album, which you will see in the coming weeks. We wanted it to be simple and heartbreaking," she shared. "The loneliness we were able to capture in the emptiness of the room and intimate camerawork. I feel it speaks volumes and shares the depth in its simplicity. When the emotion hit…we kept rolling. This is more than a musical release to me. "
Towards the end of the video, viewers are destined to feel the burden and despair she experienced within "The Lost Years." The one tear that rolled slowly down the side of her face, symbolized strength, not weakness.
"Anger is much easier than grief. Betrayal is easier than hurt. I pushed myself through it all without ever really giving it the space I needed — to really understand and feel the magnitude of the situation, which I am living now," said Quayle about taking control of her own destiny. "I have never been one to not get back up. That's the kind I am…I think I'm still getting back up. Grief counseling was an essential part of my healing. I remember someone at the memorial saying, 'don't let this ruin you '… I didn't know what she meant then, I do now," she recalled.
After watching the final edit of the music video for the first time, the country mainstay said she cried.
"The emotions and power of this music video outweighed all my critiques of myself," she declared. "This is my prequel. A story of heartbreak, betrayal and ultimately woven back together with hope and redemption."