Rising country singer extols value of motorcoach industry

In a crowd of bus operators, rising country singer Karen Waldrup wanted to make sure her voice was heard.

She was the last to speak at a gathering in Gallatin, Tennessee, in August, where Republican U.S. Rep. John Rose and Republican Senate candidate Bill Hagerty met with members of the Tennessee Motor Coach Association about the need for co-sponsors of the CERTS Act, which could provide needed federal funds to save the bus and motorcoach industry. 

Karen Waldrup spoke at a Tennessee Motor Coach Association meeting to raise support for the CERTS Act.

Like many singers who have stepped up in support of the nearly devastated industry, the rising country star is keenly aware of the essential role motorcoaches play in the entertainment industry.

“I just knew that if I got up there and just spoke from my heart, that people would feel it,” said Waldrup, who wanted to give people the perspective from those who depend on motorcoaches for their transportation. “The amount of stability that motorcoaches provide for us is indescribable. It’s not possible to get your crew from one place to another in the middle of the night without this vehicle. It’s just not practical for your crew and equipment to fly.”

Waldrup’s heartfelt comments helped paint the image of the role that the motorcoach industry plays in the entertainment industry, said Mark Szyperski, CEO of On Your Mark Transportation

“It was so impressive, that at a meeting of mostly motorcoach executives and operatives, Ms. Waldrup took her own initiative to show up and make sure to speak on how so many are being impacted beyond our industry. I know, for one, I was so happy to have her attend and speak,” Szyperski said. 

 On the road

Before her success as a viral sensation — with more than 350 million online views of her country covers and original music — allowed her to begin touring by motorcoach, she spent a dozen years on the road, traveling with her band by 15-passenger van.

The south Louisiana native moved to Nashville in 2008. A little more than a decade later, her hard work and determination catapulted her career in 2019. 

“I shouldn’t have to go back to April of 2009. If we do this CERTS Act, we can keep these buses parked and ready for us, and they can fuel them and clean them and maintain them, and do whatever they need to keep them,” Waldrup said. 

First motorcoach trip

The global pandemic hit in March as Waldrup was preparing to begin the touring season, which runs through October. She became a client of Nashville’s Star Master Coaches in late 2018. She remembers that first ride to New Orleans, where she sang the national anthem at a New Orleans Saints game.

“I slept the entire way to New Orleans. When I got there, I felt good and my voice was rested,” Waldrup said. “When you’re in a 15-passenger van, you can’t sleep. You have to sit there for eight or nine hours straight. Your back hurts, and you need to stretch when you arrive. You don’t really feel that great,” she said. “The entertainment coach allows you to feel like you’ve been hanging out in your house all day long. When you arrive at the gig, you just walk on stage. Before I ever had an entertainment coach, I didn’t know the difference.”

Waldrup toured the U.S. in a motorcoach in 2019. And that extra TLC she was able to give herself by resting during her travels paid off. Everything was growing exponentially, and 2020 was set to be the best year of her entire career. Then, the global pandemic arrived, halting the motorcoach and entertainment industries.

“I finally got here, like I finally got to the point where I have a bus,” said Waldrup. “It doesn’t seem fair for the motorcoach companies to go out of business, and then I have to ride around in the 15-passenger van again. I’m passionate about it because I have really been able to learn the value and the power of a motorcoach.”

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