The Marty Smith Podcast: Charles Kelley Talks Forming Lady A in Nashville and Future Hopes for the Band, Plus Cheese-Rolling Champion Abby Lampe Joins the Show

by Chris Haney

We’ve got another great episode of The Marty Smith Podcast this week, which includes two separate interviews for listeners to enjoy. First up, we’ve got country star Charles Kelley from Lady A joining the podcast to talk about his life and music career. We’ve also got the winner of the 2022 Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling competition in England, Abby Lampe. The young woman hails from North Carolina and did America proud as she opens up about her experience at the annual event across the pond.

As always, the guys on The Marty Smith Podcast started off the show by discussing a variety of random topics. They touched on the recent SEC meetings and the ongoing Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher feud. They talked camping and the annoyance of returning camping chairs to their travel bags. Marty amusingly said that alone should be an Olympic sport. The guys also debate the best southern rock songs of all-time, and get into how prolific Lynyrd Skynyrd was in only a few years time.

Then, founding member of the country music trio Lady A, Charles Kelley, joins the show. He takes us back to when he first got into music and how his career got started in Nashville. Kelley also shares how Lady A came about in the 2000s. Further, the musician opens up about the Country Music Hall of Fame, his hopes for the future of the band, and their upcoming summer tour.

Next up, the guys talk with cheese-rolling champion Abby Lampe about her recent victory in Gloucester, England. The North Carolinian breaks down her winning run and explains how she practiced for the annual event. The guys talk about all of that and so much more on another fantastic episode of The Marty Smith Podcast.

Charles Kelley Talks Lady A’s Formation on ‘The Marty Smith Podcast’

As soon as Lady A’s Charles Kelley joined the show, host Marty Smith dived into his upbringing in Augusta, GA. While growing up in Augusta, that’s where Kelley found his love of music as he started to play the drums in various bands as a young teenager.

Fast forwarding to his college days at the University of Georgia, Kelley practically gave up playing music. He thought it was a pipe dream so he focused on his finance degree instead. After graduation, he took a job in his field for around a year before realizing he was miserable. His older brother, Josh Kelley, was a musician in Los Angeles, but found success writing songs in Nashville. Eventually, Josh moved to Nashville and Charles followed suit to give music another chance.

However, Kelley didn’t know anyone in Nashville except his brother. So he called one of his old friends Dave Haywood – multi-instrumentalist of Lady A – and asked if he could come hang out with him in Atlanta and write songs. That’s what he did every weekend for a couple months and some of the material was “really good.” Not long after, Haywood moved to Nashville and the pair kept working on music together.

Around four months later, Kelley was at a local bar where singer Hillary Scott was performing cover songs with a band. The pair made plans to hang out, and Hillary came over to his place a week later. During that first hang out, they played music together and ended up writing what would become Lady A’s first single, “Love Don’t Live Here.”

“Everything just came together,” Charles Kelley said of Lady A’s organic formation. “And, you know, the rest is kinda history as they say.”

“Y’all were not put together, y’all found each other. That is very rare,” host Marty Smith added.

“Yea, we found each other,” Kelley agreed on The Marty Smith Podcast. “I was like, let’s just take a chance. We’ll just do this on the side… Everything just took off really fast for us. Only later looking back do you realize how rare that was.”

If Charles Kelley Has It His Way, Lady A Will Still Be Performing Decades From Now

For a group like Lady A that’s been around for more than 15 years and won every award imaginable, there aren’t too many goals that have gone unachieved for the popular band. They’ve won several CMA awards, multiple ACM awards, and others through the years. Additionally, they won Song of the Year at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards.

In early 2021, Lady A also received another huge honor when the trio became members of the Grand Ole Opry. The band has seemingly done it all during their career. So host Marty Smith wanted to know what else is there to accomplish for the band. Short answer: the Country Music Hall of Fame.

“I guess I would say the Country Music Hall of Fame. That would be pretty amazing,” Kelley shared.

“Just a few weeks ago, I hadn’t been in years, and my mom and sister and her little girls were in town and I took them to the museum down here. Just walking through I was like, ‘Gosh, it sure would be cool to be in here someday.’ You know as one of those older iconic artists that everyone’s looking at. So that would be a huge accomplishment,” he added.

As amazing as an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame would be, Kelley has one other wish as well. He hopes Lady A stays together for decades to come, which is great news for the band’s adoring fans.

“Not to sound cheesy, we’ve already so far exceeded any expectations I’ve ever had,” Kelley said. “I mean I think the biggest thing for me would be to see us still at 70 years old together and doing shows. I know we’re not going to be doing 100 shows then… but that would be a pretty amazing, ultimate goal. Just to still have a fanbase 30, 40 years from now, that would be pretty amazing.”

Cheese-Rolling Champion Abby Lampe Talks Gloucester Experience

Following two years of canceled events due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake competition returned in 2022. For the first time ever in the almost 200-year history of the event, an American woman became champion on Sunday morning.

Recent NC State graduate Abby Lampe is enjoying her summer by traveling around Europe. She’s known about the cheese-rolling competition for years and has always wanted to take part in the wild event. Dozens of competitors race after an eight-pound round of Double Gloucester cheese while chasing it down a steep 200-yard hill. As participants race downhill, many tumble and fall over each other, which can lead to some pretty bad injuries. Thankfully, Lampe avoided any injuries on her way to being crowned this year’s cheese-rolling champion.

“I’ve seen this competition for a while,” Lampe explained. “On Youtube, there are a lot of compilations of people falling down hills. I’ve known about this for a long time. I wanted to do this two years ago, but COVID hit when I was studying abroad in England. So, I wasn’t able to do it then.

“I am on a victory lap after graduating from NC State and traveling around Europe, and I booked this trip just to do this cheese race. So, I specifically wanted to do this, this year. I’m very competitive, so I really wanted to participate in this event.”

She came, she saw, and she conquered as Lampe not only fulfilled her longtime goal of participating in the event, but came out on top. The guys talk to Lampe and Kelley much more on the newest episode of The Marty Smith Podcast. Make sure to check out their entire conversation below, or listen to the full interview on Spotify, Apple, or wherever else you listen to your favorite podcasts.