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Q&A: Crestview country singer Casey Kearney on love, Waffle House and keeping things local

Savannah Evanoff
Northwest Florida Daily News

CRESTVIEW — Casey Kearney thinks her latest song and music video is as country as it gets.

The Crestview resident wrote the song about a couple she met who shared with her their love story. The fact that it started out at a Waffle House was merely a bonus.

The music video debuts Jan. 15. To watch the video and follow all things Casey Kearney, visit CaseyKearney.com or follow Kearney on Facebook or Instagram @CaseyKearneyMusic.

More:Coronavirus Quarantine questionnaire: Casey Kearney

Kearney sat down with the Daily News to talk about her song “Waffle House,” the vision for the music video and how she keeps things local.

Crestview country singer Casey Kearney holds her guitar while on set shooting the music video for her new song "Waffle House," which will release Jan. 15.

How did you meet the couple featured in the video? 

I met Rob and Kelli Smithmier while I was playing a show on 30A a couple of years ago. They were having dinner with friends and we all just clicked.

Crestview country singer Casey Kearney recently shot the music video for her song "Waffle House," which tells the love story of real life couple, Rob and Kelli Smithmier.

What made you want to write a song about them? 

They told me their story about how they had been married for 30-plus years and their first dance was in a Waffle House on New Year’s Day. I thought it was a sweet story and involves a Waffle House — you don’t get much more country music than that.

More:30A musician Casey Kearney releases cover album ‘Somebody’s Favorite Song’

How did the couple respond to the song? 

They cried. Rob still cries just about every time I play it even though they have heard it a million times. They loved it and it has been a fun project to work on with them.

Videographer Keno Manuel films the music video for Crestview country singer Casey Kearney's song "Waffle House."

Who produced the song and filmed the video? 

I wrote and rewrote this song a couple of times. I finished it up with my producer, Doug Kahan, in Nashville, Tennessee, where we recorded it and put it on my latest album “More to the Story." Keno Manuel filmed and directed the video. He is young and energetic. I love his creativity. He has amazing gear and he had a really great crew on the day we filmed it. I was totally impressed by their professionalism. 

How did you come up with a vision? 

I love the progression of their story, a young broke couple, sweet middle age, and then growing older together. We thought it would be neat to show that. Going into the project, that concept was my main thought. Keno came up with the rest of the vision and made the sweet story and vintage feel come to life.

Crestview country singer Casey Kearney recently shot the music video for her song "Waffle House," which tells the love story of real life couple, Rob and Kelli Smithmier. In the video, their daughter, Jessi McClellan, and Andrew Melms portray the young version of the couple.

Where were the different places the video was shot? 

The whole video was shot in my town of Crestview. We started the day at my friend Lisa Overly’s house. We invaded her space for a few hours, shooting some inside and outside. My friend Gloria Fortner let us use her perfectly muddy Jeep for a few shots there also. We filmed at Twin Hills Park. I love the scenes on the bench there. Casbah Coffee House allowed us to use their beautiful courtyard in the back. The Waffle House on Highway 90 was super accommodating to us and the crew. We finished the long day having dinner there, where Rob played their song on the jukebox and they danced again. It was perfect.

Crestview country singer Casey Kearney recently shot the music video for her song "Waffle House," which tells the love story of real life couple, Rob and Kelli Smithmier. In the video, Ardie (left) and Lois Spurlock (right), Kelli Smithmier's mother, portray the couple.

Tell me about the different people featured in the video. How did they like being in the music video? 

To tell the progression of their story, we needed the right people. When I met Lois Spurlock, Kelli’s mom, and Jessi McClellan, Rob and Kelli’s daughter, the idea hit for them to all be in it and play the different time frames. They are all beautiful, same height, look alike, it just worked and it was a special family event. Ardie Spurlock played older Rob and Andrew Melms came down from Auburn University to play young Rob. They did such a good job. Everyone had fun together. It's been a cool experience sharing it with family and good friends.

Crestview country singer Casey Kearney strums her guitar while on set shooting the music video for her new song "Waffle House."

How do you feel about how the song and music video turned out? 

I feel surprised that so many have loved it like they have. When I wrote it, I honestly just thought it was a cute silly song for my friends. I had no idea so many people would relate to it or just love the story. It still makes me laugh that one of my sweetest songs I have ever written involves a Waffle House — so country, but I love it. I was excited to see what Keno did with the video and I am thankful to have been able to create it with such great people. It has been a cool journey.