It’s not uncommon for Kayla Ruby to get a last-minute call to perform in front of tens of thousands. After all, the Broomfield country singer is the Denver Broncos’ go-to National Anthem singer.
Ruby says doors have opened up since her first National Anthem performance for the Broncos’ opening game on September 11, 2017. “After that game, which was televised on ‘Monday Night Football’ to millions of viewers, the phone started ringing with interviews,” she says.
The 21-year-old singer-songwriter has sung for the Denver Broncos every year since that performance. She says her talents were discovered after the athletic director at her Broomfield high school had taped her singing the anthem at one of the school’s football games.
“I sang the song pretty much every week in high school, whether for the soccer team that I played on or for the school’s different sport teams,” says Ruby. “He recorded it and submitted the video to the Colorado High School Activities Association for a competition to sing the National Anthem at a state wrestling competition at the Pepsi Center on February 18, 2017, which I ended up winning. I went there on the day of the meet and there were 40,000 in attendance. I stood on the mat and sang it with all I had, and a video of that performance went viral.”
That’s when the Broncos got wind of the then-Broomfield High School senior. “They contacted me in August 2017 and asked if I would sing for their pre-season game, which I did. I literally thought that was it. But they called me back in September after one of their singers had just dropped out and said, ‘The Broncos team specifically asked for you to come back,’ which led to that September opening game performance,” she recalls.
But it’s not just athletic teams that make requests. Ruby was invited back for the second time to sing the National Anthem at the annual National Western Stock Show and Rodeo last week for its pro-rodeo event, where she performed for a crowd of nearly 10,000 people. And last July, she was asked to open up for platinum-selling country artist Parker McCollum, who was headlining a show at the Levitt Pavilion.
“We got the call three days before the show; it was very sudden. My band and I quickly threw together a 45-minute set,” recalls Ruby. “At the show, when Parker McCollum walked off his tour bus, he came over and said, ‘Hey, you’re Kayla, right?’ He made sure to take the time to introduce himself, have a conversation with me and thank me for opening the show for him, which I felt was a tell-all on who he is as a person.”
Apart from that concert, she says 2021 was a great year for live music: “I played 21 shows in five states, including Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Colorado.”
Last year, Ruby played twenty-one shows in five states. Stephanie Siau” href=”https://media2.westword.com/den/imager/u/original/13277344/22ba4244-93ad-4ad9-a9e3-8a5b2288ed67.jpeg” rel=”contentImg_gal-13277045″ title=”Last year, Ruby played twenty-one shows in five states. – STEPHANIE SIAU”> click to enlarge
Last year, Ruby played twenty-one shows in five states.
Her sets usually consist of her five single releases, including her catchy upbeat country-pop debut song from 2018, “Never Really Know Somebody,” and the Taylor Swift-esque sprightly single from 2020, “I Wish I Was Crazy.” She also makes sure to sing her ballad “This House Is Haunted,” a touching track about when someone you love leaves for good.
“I definitely have a rock sound in the backbone of my music, but it’s always in the vein of country,” Ruby says. She names Alan Jackson, George Strait, Reba McEntire, Carrie Underwood, Pat Benatar and Heart as her musical influences.
Ruby also brings to her live performances five more original songs that haven’t been released, and a few boot-stomping covers to rev up the audience. “I always try to get crowd interaction going with well-known songs that people can sing along to,” she explains.
Her personal favorite part of her live shows is the “‘Cha Cha part,’” she says, “which is where my band and I do a mash-up of
Brooks and Dunn’s ‘Neon Moon’ and Midland’s ‘Drinkin’ Problem.’”
Ruby is back on stage Sunday, January 23, to headline the last night of the Bison Days concert series at Number Thirty-Eight. The annual event, which kicked off January 6 and runs through Sunday, boasts twelve days of country music and food and drinks vendors.
“It’s a great time because people can come and eat, drink, listen to music and dance,” she says. “And my favorite part is it’s a pet-friendly event, so I get to bring my dog.”
When Bison Days wraps up, Ruby will be rehearsing her new single “Ladies Night,” which she co-wrote with her manager, Aaron Rothe, and guitarist, Taylor Macres, in September, when the three took a songwriting trip to Nashville.
“After we wrote the song there, we did a demo for it,” she recalls. “And the next day, when we were traveling to north of Nashville to another country artist’s house for a writing session, we had the windows down in the car and everyone was chanting it. That’s when we knew we had something special.”
“Ladies Night,” which Ruby says is an anthem-type tune packed with loud rocking guitars and fiddle, will be released sometime in spring. She’ll perform it for the first time at the 2022 iHeartRadio Rocky Mountain Country Music Awards on Saturday, February 19 in Greeley. The award ceremony celebrates the best in country music from the nine state Rocky Mountain region, which includes Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Utah and New Mexico.
Not only will this be another first for the singer, but she learned last week that she received a nomination for “Female Vocalist of the Year at the RMCMA’s, branding her as another rising star of country music.
Bison Days featuring Kayla Ruby, Sunday, January 23; 4 to 5:30 p.m.; Number Thirty-Eight, 3560 Chestnut Place. DJ Ginger Perry opens from 2 to 4 p.m. The show is free, plus one free Odell Kindling Golden Ale upon entry. For more information, visit Number Thirty-Eight’s website.