I wanted to put some thoughts together today based on some of the more common questions I am asked about my life in music.
Q: How did you get started playing music?
A: I cannot remember a time in my life when I did not want to play music. I know this is because of my parents. My dad was very talented. He played the guitar and had a voice that was a cross between Johnny Horton and Johnny Cash depending on what song he was singing.
My mother sang alto in a quartet in church growing up. When she met my dad, he began to teach her to play guitar. I remember them singing together, Porter and Dolly or June and Johnny, and recording tracks on a reel-to-reel. They taught me music early – when I say early, I mean I was singing songs at the age of three, and had my first guitar at the age of six.
Q: Who are your influences?
A: So I hear this question and my mind goes completely blank. I think the reason is because I don’t know that I can nail down specific influences. My mother would be of course, given she was always the driving force of my music education and what music I was exposed to early on. It would almost be like trying to thank one person out of an entire movie production.
I have always listened to a broad range of genres, eras, women, men, and groups. That being said, one of my first heroes was Deborah Harry of Blondie. When I was a child I sang into the hairbrush in front of the mirror to the “Tide is High.” So, here is my long list of Thank Yous:
Blondie, Loretta Lynn, Emmylou Harris, Aretha Franklin, Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton, Tanya Tucker, The Platters, The Drifters, George Jones, Keith Whitley, Percy Sledge, Otis Redding, The Rolling Stones, Merle Haggard, Bob Dylan, Lacy J. Dalton, The Seldom Scene, Larry Sparks, The Eagles, Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, The Judds, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, The Pretenders, Fleetwood Mac, Melissa Etheridge and this list goes on and on. I absolutely love 50s and 60s rock. I love old Country up to the late 80s early 90s. Blues is also a staple in my music library as well as Bluegrass. Today I listen to mostly Alt-Country and Americana artists like Lucinda Williams, Patty Griffin, Kasey Chambers, Chris Knight, James McMurtry, Hayes Carll, Jason Isbell, etc. I’m sure I’ve picked up a lot of things from all of them.
Q: What inspires you to write?
A: This is another tough one. I tend to write in waves. It’s like I get things stored in my brain over time, and then they all come pouring out at once. I have cycles where I don’t write anything, and then I’ll write four of five songs over a period of a few months.
I have read about people who set aside time every day to write. They write something, good or bad, because it keeps them in the rhythm. For me, I usually have something on my mind, and the majority of the time, the writing is more like therapy. I rarely ever come up with a concept and say, “I will write about this topic today – Here is the hook, and here is the made-up storyline.” Most of the time there is a story, a mood, a conversation, that triggers it.
Q: Do you ever suffer from stage fright?
A: I’ve talked about in the past about how my mother would put me in beauty pageants mainly because talent was part of the competition. She would also enter me in talent contests when one came up – or 4H shows. I was, and still am, a shy person by nature. She wanted me in front of people. When I was a kid, there weren’t very many avenues for the very young to get experience on stage before crowds. Other than Tanya Tucker it was very uncommon to be taken seriously unless you were truly an adult in the music industry – until Leann Rimes of course. So she chose what was available as often as she could. It did help. I do get nervous sometimes, especially if I’m performing along with people I have great respect for – I just try not to think about it and go on.