When Vince Gill, Raul Malo and Dwight Yoakam all agree to sing on your first full-length album, you just might be doing something right.
Described by Rolling Stone as the “California girl next door with the country-pop delivery of Sheryl Crow,” gifted singer, songwriter and performer Annie Bosko has been embraced by cross-genre music industry icons on the West Coast and in Music City.
Growing up in Thousand Oaks as the middle child of five kids, this farmer’s daughter with strong Croatian roots sang everywhere she could, from church to local karaoke bars, when she could sneak in underage. At 14, Bosko’s dream of becoming a professional singer first seemed possible when she was discovered and tapped to sing on the soundtrack for Disney’s Little Mermaid 2. She soon started writing songs, and by 17, she was opening for Deana Carter, performing original music with her own band.
Bosko also started recording jingles for a local composer, which helped her buy her first guitar. Word soon spread about her undeniable vocal talent, leading to demo work for legendary songwriter Diane Warren (“Because You Loved Me,” “How Do I Live”) and the opportunity to perform “I Will Always Love You” (written and performed by Dolly Parton and later made famous as a pop hit by Whitney Houston) alongside hitmaker David Foster—who produced Houston’s Grammy-winning version—at his shows.
She has since lent her dynamic voice to such high-profile artists as Adele, Andrea Bocelli, Darius Rucker, Celine Dion, Kenny G and Josh Groban; penned songs for Willie Nelson, Marie Osmond, Jessica Simpson and Rita Wilson; and toured the country opening for acts such as Dierks Bentley, Josh Turner, Blake Shelton, Pat Benatar, Counting Crows, Wynonna Judd, Martina McBride, and Rucker.
Bosko’s affinity for songwriting is what initially pulled her toward Nashville. “I remember hearing Patsy Cline’s voice for the first time … I could hear the emotion transforming what she was singing and knew that’s what I wanted to do. I remember discovering that Dolly Parton had written ‘I Will Always Love You’ and Willie Nelson had written ‘Crazy,’ and I felt an intense hunger in my soul to write songs,” not just sing them. “Writing songs has never really been a choice,” she admits, “I have to do it, and my iPhone is filled with hundreds of ideas at all times.”
So a year into her degree, Bosko dropped out of college and drove cross-country to pursue her dreams. “I am certainly no stranger to pulling up my bootstraps—doing whatever was necessary to make my living as an independent artist,” she adds. “I came here alone and lived with a single mom I didn’t know.”
Bosko sang demos, worked at restaurants, cleaned houses and finagled her way into writing appointments. “I was doing everything the industry tells a new artist to do, but I still felt like I wasn’t getting my shot,” she explains. “Instead, I was watching bro-country take off and reality stars get deals, while women like me just weren’t getting signed.”
Sticking to conventional channels began to feel counter to her nature. “I’ve always run against the grain,” Bosko says, “so I started writing my ass off, channeling that fire and steering my own ship, figuring out how best to build a fanbase.” She also resolved to keep a firm hold on her music and message. “Everything from my music to pictures and video to my band is a representation of me, so my fingerprints have to be on all of it.”
Ultimately, “I realized I needed to get my music out there myself,” Bosko continues. And that’s exactly what she did. Fittingly, the release of her first single, “Crooked Halo,” started a domino effect that would forever change her life.
Since then, Bosko has sold out The Troubadour and received a standing ovation at the Ryman Auditorium. She has written songs featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Late Late Show with James Corden, Good Morning Americaand The Dr. Oz Show, as well as in TV series and films. Sirius XM featured “Crooked Halo” as a Highway Find, while the music video for the song topped the charts on CMT.
Passionate about using her voice and music to uplift and support those who need it most, Bosko has collaborated with the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Navy SEAL Foundation, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the National Kidney Foundation, Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, The Heroes Project, UCLA Operation Mend, and The Trevor Project, in addition to the Tennessee Department of Correction.
From performing the national anthem at Madison Square Garden to entertaining 300,000 fans in downtown Nashville during a 4th of July celebration, Bosko’s natural talent and fearless stage presence enable her to authentically connect with audiences in diverse arenas. Even though her music is country at heart, she seamlessly mixes in elements of pop and rock to create a unique sound that lends itself to a powerful musical experience. “My live show is electric and high energy,” she says. “I love to entertain!”
Bosko draws on that incredible spirit to keep working toward the kind of career she is determined to have. A year before the pandemic, she experienced a betrayal that eventually forced her to go on a monthlong silent sabbatical. It was a low point, but ultimately led to a breakthrough and her best songwriting. Unable to use her voice to advocate for herself, she was driven to write the lyrics for “What Did I Do.”
After moving home to regroup, Bosko swore she’d only go back to Nashville for a paying gig…which is exactly what happened. Even more fortuitous, she bumped into Vince Gill in a chance encounter that ultimately changed the trajectory of her career.
Gill and Bosko had performed at a few events together and his wife Amy had become a fan of Bosko’s music during the pandemic. When Gill asked what she was up to, Bosko surprised herself by saying, “I’m making an album”—which, until that very moment, had been more of a dream. But when Vince offered to sing on the album, her heart’s desire suddenly became a reality.
Double-masked during a series of sessions, the first song she and producer Sims wrote together was “What Did I Do,” a Cali western swing “feel good, f*** you” anthem with a rock edge and Latin groove, inspired by artists like Linda Ronstadt, Roy Orbison and The Mavericks, the latter being the catalyst for working with Malo.
You moved on like we were nothing at all/Got good and gone, throwing me these curveballs/Now you're gonna pour salt in the wound
Bosko and Sims next wrote “Higher Ground” as an everyday man’s prayer about rising above the madness of the world in today’s troubling times. Its rootsy gospel bluegrass feel showcases Gill’s soaring tenor, which perfectly complements Bosko’s achingly beautiful vibrato.
Higher ground/Above all the madness/Higher ground, safe from the sadness/When I’m weary, let my soul be found/On higher ground
One of Bosko’s musical heroes, Dwight Yoakam, who has carried the California Country torch inspired by Buck Owens and Merle Haggard’s Bakersfield sound, will be featured on a sensual duet. The low western baritone riff and dreamy, hypnotic cadence of “Heart Burn” (co-written with veteran Nashville writer Chuck Cannon) makes you feel like you’re driving through the barren desert after sunset with a full moon rising, thinking of the one you love.
Full moon on fire/Meltin’ my heart/I try not to fall, I’m falling apart/Oooooh, I’m like a Luna moth to a flame/I got your running like whiskey through my veins
In another twist of fate, Bosko says the forced downtime during the pandemic ultimately lead to the birth of her new sound, with songwriting that is more authentically her. “It was the turning point for me to go inward and dig into my roots,” she explains, “and I can’t wait to show it off on this project.”