Monroe was born on September 10, 1986 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Growing up, her parents played songs by the Eagles and Lynyrd Skynyrd, so her country rock roots started early, and she was already taking piano lesson before she turned seven. At age 11, she won a talent contest in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee (home of Dolly Parton's resort "Dollywood"), singing "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart." She subsequently found steady work performing in a theater in Pigeon Forge. A couple year later, her father gave Monroe her first guitar, and she began writing her own songs.