Local band member prepares for Happy Landing in Nashville

Happy Landing EP cover photo.  Submitted photo. The band members surround poker chips that spell out Happy Landing.
Happy Landing EP cover photo. Submitted photo.

Jay Mitchell Wenger
Oxford Stories

When you take a leap of faith, you hope for a Happy Landing.

University of Mississippi student Keegan Lyle will soon be free-falling into several major life events – graduating from college, finalizing a move to Nashville, and getting married.

She’s planning to do them all while performing as one of the main vocalists for the band Happy Landing. Keeping up appearances as a student and a performer while becoming regionally famous is something Lyle has learned to handle.

She began singing as soon as she could talk, but didn’t take it seriously until she entered high school and began performing in musicals. This is when she found her own voice.

“The band started before I was a part of it as a family band,” she said. “After the first EP was released, the current members started looking for roles to fill until they got the current five.”

Happy Landing is comprised of musicians Lyle, Matthew Hendley, Jacob Christensen, Wilson Moyer and Andrew Gardner.

“The name came from Matty’s (Matthew’s) grandfather, back when he was in the military,” said Lyle. “Right before they would jump out of the planes, they would say ‘I hope you have a happy landing.’ Their family ended up calling the land where they’d have family reunions ‘Happy Landing,’ and when he formed the band back in 2020, that’s what he decided to call it.”

Lyle partially credits the band’s success to COVID.

A close-up photo of Lyle performing.  Submitted photo
Lyle performing. Submitted photo.

“I do think a lot of it has to do with our creativity and perseverance in finding ways to start a band during COVID when experienced artists weren’t doing anything at all,” she said. “We gained a lot of momentum from being some of the only people doing music at the time. I think we have such a unique sound that is different enough to distinguish us apart from others, yet still encapsulates a lot of the aspects of folk and alternative music that people love.”

Lyle has been pulled in many directions this academic year due to school, her involvement in Young Life – a Christian mission devoted to introducing adolescents to the message of Jesus and helping them grow in their faith, and her new engagement.

“I’m very on track with school,” she said. “I’d say the pressure lies more in making the most of my social life in Oxford and spending time with friends. If I have a free weekend, it’s hard to determine whether or not it is best spent playing shows and processing the band or growing relationships that I already have here.”

Lyle’s recent engagement comes from within the band. She will soon marry drummer Jacob Christensen. He and Lyle were local high school Young Life leaders before joining the band. 

“The band didn’t really lead to my engagement,” said Lyle. “That was happening no matter what. It has been really cool to be a part of a band with my fiancé, though.”

Christensen said their relationship has grown since the band began.

“It’s been a blast being able to have fun together doing what we love … ,” he said. “It’s been a challenge to have some of the band in Nashville already while some are still in Oxford. It’s been hard to schedule events, but once we’re all together, there’s no telling how far we’re going to go.”

Lyle said she’s excited about a new Happy Landing in Nashville.

“Nashville is such a great place to be for music,” she said, “but it is also a great place for young adults right out of college. I’m also originally from Knoxville, so I’ll be moving closer to home and my family, which will be nice.”

The move is a long-term solution, knowing the band could come to a halt, and there should be a plan to fall back on.

Photo of the band performing holding their musical instruments. Submitted photo.
Photo of the band performing. Submitted photo.

“We all have/will have jobs on the side, so we’re not completely lost if the band doesn’t work out,” Lyle said. “I currently have a part-time remote internship that I plan on keeping this summer while we tour … The longer we are in it, the more long term it feels. These next few years will be crucial in determining if this is a long-term deal, but we already have so much success in the year and a half we’ve been together, so it almost feels inevitable for more progression to happen.”

A lot of the group’s success can be attributed to location. UM students support the band at numerous events. Some even travel to shows out of state.

“Our music does a good job at communicating the emotions of young adulthood,” Lyle said. “So I think the students here can really resonate with it all. We’ve seen a lot of similar feedback in other college towns as well.”

Happy Landing’s first EP with all the current members was released March 18. The group will be playing at Double Decker in Oxford on April 23.

“Never in a million years did I think I would be in a band… especially one that will ideally become a career,” said Lyle. “Now that I’m here, though, I couldn’t be happier.”

To learn more about the band’s upcoming performances and sample their music, click this link.

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