The Stunning Transformation Of Gabby Barrett

Country music star Gabby Barrett has accomplished a lot in a short amount of time. She placed third on ABC's "American Idol" in 2018, released crossover hit "I Hope" in 2019, and dropped debut album "Goldmine" in 2020. What's more, she's also hit a couple of personal life milestones, tying the knot in 2019 with fellow artist Cade Foehner and welcoming a baby girl two years later.

"It doesn't even feel real sometimes," Barrett said in The Tennesseean of her success. And although it may seem like Barrett became a star overnight, that isn't the case. From performing in grocery stores to touring the country and opening up for some of the industry's biggest names, she has put in a lot of work into her career, and it sounds like she does not plan on letting the foot off the gas. Here's the stunning transformation of Gabby Barrett, a rising country star who is well on her way to superstardom.

Gabby Barrett grew up in a large tight-knit family

Gabby Barrett is one of eight children, but her parents still found the time and energy to help her chase her art at an early age. While speaking with E! News in March 2022, the country singer shared that while her family was not well-off, her mom and dad did what they could to encourage her to follow her larger-than-life dreams. "I had very supportive parents growing up," she told the outlet. "My dad was very supportive, very involved with all of my stuff for a long time coming up."

When the singer-songwriter competed on ABC's "American Idol" in 2018, her dad, Blase Barrett, sang his daughter's praises in an interview with TribLive, sharing, "Gabby doesn't have one ounce of nerves (performing for an audience) because she loves to perform in front of crowds."

Gabby is also close to her siblings and occasionally posts throwback photos of her family, including a birthday post in 2020 to her brother and another post wishing her mom a happy Mother's Day.

She fell in love with singing early on

Gabby Barrett started singing and performing when she was still in elementary school. Per The Boot, she told reporters in 2020 that the start of her music career can be traced back to the moment her dad suggested she get involved with a local gospel choir. As a youngster, she also got in reps performing at local grocery stores on a regular basis.

Barrett's soulful, country-rock sound comes from her parents' musical influences, she told the Tennessean in 2020. While she's a fan of many genres, country ultimately became her favorite. "There's something about country music that just captures you in a different way than any other genre," she said. 

Throughout her time performing at local grocery stores and restaurants, Barrett's dad served as her manager, and both were intent on seeing her music career come to pass. "Me and my dad discussed from an early age that this is what we're gonna do," Barrett explained to the Tennessean. "We're gonna do this and make something from it."

Gabby Barrett's childhood wasn't 'normal'

Gabby Barrett had some insecurities growing up and didn't necessarily do the things other kids her age were doing, like sneaking out of the house or partying. When speaking to Taste of Country, the country music star shared how she sacrificed her teen years for music. "I didn't have like the normal childhood, and I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but like I was always singing or always doing shows," she told the outlet.

Before making her mark on the "American Idol" stage and taking third, Barrett earned first place in the 2014 Kean Quest Talent Search, according to a photo album posted on a Barrett fan page. What's more, it looks like she competed against fellow reality TV competition star Jackie Evancho. 

While Barrett exudes confidence on a stage in front of a live audience, she dealt with insecurities growing up. When speaking to Taste of Country, she shared that she sucked her thumb all the way through junior high. "And then I was like well I kinda wanna start smiling in pictures now with my teeth and my teeth were four feet in front of me," she said. "So, I got braces."

She was discovered when she was a teen

Gabby Barrett's years playing gigs as a kid paid off when one of her shows caught the ear of an "American Idol" producer, according to WWD. "I learned a lot," she said regarding her time in the reality TV singing competition in 2018 in which she placed third. "It was very challenging in areas I wasn't expecting. You watch the show and you see people performing on the stage and you think, 'That's easy, I can go and sing a cover song because that's all I've done for the past six years.'" Though she did not win the whole kit and caboodle, she did walk away with the invaluable experience that comes with playing on national TV week after week and receiving feedback from some of the biggest names in music.

During her "Idol" audition, Barrett shared that she grew up watching the singing competition and that she looked up to a certain superstar "Idol" alum. "Carrie Underwood's my idol. I love her. She's beautiful," she told the judges before singing the country music star's hit "Good Girl" a cappella. After the panel requested that she show them something else, she performed a second song. Her rendition of classic gospel hymn "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" got her a thumbs up from all three judges.

Gabby Barrett met her future hubby on Idol

Gabby Barrett would not only find national fame on season 16 of "American Idol" in 2018 but a husband. Though the country music star came in third on the reality TV competition, she ultimately won big in the love department with fellow contestant and country singer Cade Foehner, who she married one year later in a rustic Texan ceremony. "We met around Top 24, Top 40," Barrett told in 2019. "I was like, 'Hmm, I like him, I like him a lot.'" So she made the first move and figured out a way to get some one-on-one time with him.

"I wanted to make a video with him of us singing together," she said. "I didn't think he liked me at first, but then he texted me and I was like, 'Oh I see what's going on here,' so it was a mutual thing, but I went after him first." And the two have been inseparable ever since.

She learned how to be herself

Gabby Barrett has been a longtime fan of "American Idol" winner and country music star Carrie Underwood, who shares her big voice and blonde hair. But as previously noted, the judges took a moment during her audition to encourage her to be herself rather than attempt to channel someone else. She took that note, and after she wowed the panel with a song that wasn't originally performed by Underwood, Luke Bryan told her dad, "Just got to get her learning her and owning her and not trying to sing like her heroes."

Barrett told People in 2020 that while she is beyond cool with her name being linked to Underwood's, she understands that it is important not to pigeonhole herself. What's more, when the "Before He Cheats" singer acted as her mentor on "Idol," she encouraged Barrett to never lose sight of what sets her apart. Barrett recounted to People, "When I actually talked to her about how people compare me to her on 'American Idol,' she said, 'You know what? You have blonde hair, I have blonde hair. You have a big voice in country music, and so do I. But clearly there's a difference between me and you — our voices don't sound the same.'" 

She struggled to land a recording deal at first

While Gabby Barrett earned third place on "American Idol" in 2018, it wasn't an easy transition into superstardom. As she told The Boot in 2020, "A lot of people assume that ... after the show, you're set, and that's not the case at all. You go back to almost square one." For Barrett, square one meant rejection. Following "Idol," several Nashville labels passed on signing her, and while it was a tough pill to swallow, Barrett understood why. "'Idol' is a platform that you come off of singing cover songs ... Labels and people didn't know if I could write original music or anything," she told the outlet.

However, Barrett persevered and self-released her crossover hit "I Hope" in 2019 after meeting up with Jon Nite and Zach Kale, songwriters behind some of country's biggest hits, and co-writing "I Hope" together, per Billboard. When speaking to Billboard in 2020, she said she was grateful to her "Idol" fans who stuck by her, especially when her song came out, which is when she finally got the attention of record labels.

Heartbreak inspired her debut single

After singing covers on ABC's "American Idol," Gabby Barrett knew she had to stand out and make a name for herself on country radio. So she took a page out of the songwriter's handbook and wrote what she knew, and that eventually became the hit song "I Hope." In a 2020 chat with Billboard, Barrett shared that her debut single, which she self-released in early 2019, was inspired by a past breakup. "I had a terrible relationship in high school that just went south, and I ended up getting my heart broken," she said.

Barrett admitted to CMT News in 2020 that songwriting didn't always come naturally to her, though she dabbled in it as a kid and started writing more in high school. Her time in Nashville has taught her a lot. "But now, being brought into these songwriting sessions, has shown me how to formulate a song. And I've learned that the songs that are most genuine to you are the ones that end up lasting the longest," she said.

Gabby Barrett was eager to get married

One year after meeting as contestants on Season 16 of "American Idol" in 2018, Gabby Barrett and Cade Foehner tied the knot in front of 100 guests in a ceremony in Texas, per People. The duo wrote their vows and added touches of personal memorabilia throughout the reception, including framed photos of the couple singing onstage at tables.

The couple got engaged in March 2019 in Los Angeles at a location that is significant to the duo. As Barrett shared with People, Foehner popped the question in a hotel room from their "Idol" days. In October of that same year, the eager pair exchanged their vows. "We thought, 'What's the point in waiting years and years if we already know we're going to be committed to each other forever?' So may forever start now," Barrett told People.

Barrett was only 19 when she wed Foehner, who was 23. Some may say that's young, but as Barrett told Taste of Country in 2020, she has relatives who got hitched when they were as young 13 years old and it worked out. 

She's growing her own family

Gabby Barrett didn't waste any time starting a family of her own. Following her 2019 nuptials in Texas to Cade Foehner, the country singer announced to People in 2020 that she was expecting. "The Lord has blessed us with a little one, and we're really excited to finally be able to share the news with everybody and just have a big old family celebration about it," she told the outlet.

The couple spoke about having kids following their wedding, but the COVID-19 pandemic fast-tracked things. "There was this huge amount of time of getting to think and rethink what life was going to be about," Barrett said, adding that they started trying for a baby at the start of the pandemic.

One year later, their daughter Baylah May Foehner arrived. Barrett shared the news on Instagram with a photo of Baylah swaddled in a red velvet blanket. While Barrett has shared many of her pregnancy and newborn mom adventures with fans on the social media platform, she hasn't shown Baylah's face, telling her fans on Instagram (via Us Weekly) that she does this to protect her privacy.

She feels 'humbled' by her life

Gabby Barrett may be a country music star, but she's still that same girl from Pennsylvania with big dreams of singing for the world. During a press conference in late 2020, Barrett told several news outlets, including Sounds Like Nashville, that she almost can't believe how things have worked out for her personally and professionally. 

"It's just been a very big year for me that I've been very humbled by," she said. "It's just crazy because since I was 11 and I would work really hard every single year, I never got things handed to me easily, so to see all of these things happening this year, it's just like I'm spinning on my head."

For Barrett, 2020 was not only the year she found out she was expecting her first child, but the year her music career skyrocketed: Her debut hit single "I Hope" went three times platinum and "Good Ones" was certified gold. As a result, Barrett was part of the RIAA Class of 2020, per People

Gabby Barrett is embracing motherhood

Balancing work and motherhood isn't easy, but Gabby Barrett has taken it in stride. What's more, she has developed even more respect for her parents on her journey as a new mom. When speaking to E! News in 2022 during the Billboard Women in Music Awards, she said her first year of motherhood came with its challenges and rewards. "What I've learned about myself is probably to be more grateful to my parents for what they have done for me," she told the outlet, adding, "It takes a lot to be a parent. It takes a lot to be a mother trying to balance another job." The country star also told the outlet that now that she has a little one of her own, she hopes to follow in her parents' footsteps and be as supportive a mom as possible. 

Barrett's parents helped point her toward a successful career, and clearly, it's worked out for her: At the aforementioned Billboard Women in Music Awards ceremony, Barrett was given the 2022 Rising Star Award. "I heard a lot of 'nos' and it seemed like every door that I knocked on remained closed for a long time," she said in her acceptance speech. "But, by the graciousness of God I am here today, and I continue to work hard and persevere." She's come a long way from her humble roots in Pennsylvania, and she isn't taking any of it for granted.