Raised as one of eight siblings in a working-class family just outside Pittsburgh, Barrett didn’t have the easiest of childhoods. Her parents held down multiple jobs to keep the many Barretts clothed and fed, and Gabby found the school environment so difficult she exited aged eleven to attend a Pennsylvania-wide online alternative school, Penn Cyber.
Nevertheless, Barrett showed signs of talent and dreamed of a musical career. In interviews, she reports singing from the age of eleven “in grocery stores and malls … fairs, small restaurants”. In 2014 she won a small statewide talent competition and began singing at a local evangelical Christian church with the choir-in-residence.
In 2017, she screwed her courage to the sticking point and tried for the 16th series of American Idol, the famous televised American talent contest. Rumours abound that Barrett was offered a six-year recording contract by a major label shortly before entering the contest, but turned the deal down on the grounds that the terms were unacceptable, particularly the percentage of the royalties she was offered. Instead, Barrett opted for a shot at the big time — a risky move, but one which paid off in the long run.