By Deborah Wilker
City & Shore Magazine
“It’s not about begging some boy to love you.”
Brooke Eden — the rising country pop singer from West Palm Beach — is in a no-nonsense mood when she discusses her new EP Welcome To the Weekend. The songs reflect her approach to life, relationships and making it in the music biz — a pursuit that’s now a reality after more than a decade on stage.
“We’re not gonna be crying teardrops on our guitars,” Eden says of her upcoming stint at the Tortuga Music Festival, the annual oceanfront country bash April 7-9 on Fort Lauderdale Beach, now in its fifth year. “I think people think that as females we’re going to get up there and sing all these really sad love songs about begging your ex to come back.”
Not even a little. On Welcome To the Weekend Eden is in a defiant mood, telling (at least) one man, “we ain’t never gonna be friends.” But it’s the catchy single Act Like You Don’t that has brought her to the attention of promoters who have booked her not only at Tortuga, but other prestige events, among them Stagecoach, the California country fest from the producers of Coachella.
Eden, a road warrior whose style seems to mesh bits of Carrie Underwood and Elle King, has been touring clubs, theaters and festivals for years. Tortuga’s reputation for catching rising artists at just the right moment is among the signs from the Universe she’s been seeking.
“Stagecoach has always been a dream of mine and we just got back from Mexico where I played Crash My Playa. And now Tortuga. So this really feels now like OK, this is what I’m supposed to be doing,” she says during a day off while visiting her parents in West Palm Beach. “You always look for signs,” she says. “So many people are talented. It’s a one-in-a-million shot to actually get to do this.”
Along with recent Grammy winners Maren Morris and Daya, Eden is one of few female acts at Tortuga, which mirrors the country scene at-large with its male-dominated stars and bands.
“I think that Maren, Daya and I all have something in common in that we’re strong,” Eden says. “The girls are definitely gonna be holding their own at this festival.” Singer-songwriter RaeLynn is also on the bill, as is male-female band Delta Rae.
A graduate of the University of Florida, Eden attended Wellington High School, growing up not far from the Florida State Fairgrounds. She remembers when the amphitheater there was in its infancy and then called Coral Sky. Singing since seeing a production of Annie as a toddler, Eden spent years on local stages performing with her father, Jeff Helvie, and his South Florida band The Persuaders. By the time she was a pre-teen she had shared various Fairgrounds stages with the likes of Brooks & Dunn and Alan Jackson, a Tortuga headliner this year.
“I got to open for Alan twice. Once when I was 12 or 13. And again just about three or four years ago. The first time I got to sing on the main stage I was singing with Sugarland in front of all these people who had watched me grow up.”
Splitting her time these days between West Palm Beach and Nashville, Eden still sits in with her dad’s group when time allows.
She says she has “an arsenal” of more than 100 self-penned songs and just sold one to an Australian act. “I just got my first [writing] credit. Obviously I can’t use all of these songs myself.”
But as much as she’d like to sell a few more of them to other artists, there are limits.
“Most of the time I write songs that are so close to me, they’re not really for other people,” she says. “We’ll see what happens.”
(Photo credit: Joseph Llanes)