Hi Annie! You’ve recently released your debut album ‘Wild Heart’. Has the album been a long-term ambition and how excited were you to release it?
Actually, starting out on this music venture of mine, my plan was to get out there and perform rather than record. But after meeting Jeff Clark (my executive producer), together we decided that it would be best to get a recording project done. Having product available makes it much easier to market myself! So Wild Heart was not initially in my plan but I am so glad that we were able to make it happen. Even though it took about a year and a half to complete, in retrospect, it felt like a whirlwind. It was so exciting to watch the songs get written, developed, and recorded.
We love the album here at Belles and Gals, a release that shows many sides to your talent. In places its highly autobiographical, such as in ‘The Next Chapter’, which opens with an insight into your life. Do you find song writing therapeutic?
The Next Chapter is certainly autobiographical. I grew up on a farm in Texas. I did (and still do!) a lot of farm stuff like horse riding, mowing, tilling, planting, etc. But I also kind of wanted to be a dancer! So I dabbled a bit in ballet. Anyway, after sharing all this and more with Jeff he decided to write a song about it. So “The Next Chapter Reprise” is Jeff’s version of my life story so far. When Brian Wooten recorded it he decided to write some different lyrics for it based on Jeff’s version along with conversations I had with him. So his version is the first one on the CD.
(Brian and Jeff were fellow band members in Too Smooth. Brian is now with Trace Adkins.)
Needless to say it can get confusing on stage when performing the song! Ha ha!
As far as writing songs goes, It is somewhat new to me but I like it and look forward to writing more in the future. Of course I wrote a few things while learning to play guitar. My family members think they were great (but they have to say that!).
I wrote “Strong As Steel” with Zac Maloy who produced half of the CD. It was a great experience. Zac is a pro songwriter and it was awesome to be able to write with him. While writing lyrics for a song I am able to release the emotions and feelings that I am experiencing at the time. It’s therapeutic and it’s certainly a creative outlet that I like.
You recently released the rousing ‘Texas Hospitality’ as a single. Tell us how the song came about!
Texas Hospitality was written by the guys in Too Smooth (including Jeff and Brian). It was a 70’s anthem of the pride and spirit of Texans everywhere. Too Smooth was a very popular rock band from Austin that toured all over Texas and adjoining states. They came close to stardom but weren’t able to break through for various reasons. However they could always draw a big crowd so when major artists came through, Too Smooth would be asked to open for them knowing that they would enhance the drawing power of the headline act. They played with numerous acts such as Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Rush, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Judas Priest, etc.
Texas Hospitality was one of their most popular songs. So when Jeff suggested that I record it I jumped at the chance! Of course I had to put my spin on it and “countrify” it a bit but I wanted to retain the rock and roll attitude of it. I think we were able to accomplish that!
What is about the state of Texas that produces such great music year on year?
There is a spirit of Texan family pride that permeates the state. There is such a diverse populace here but we are ALL Texans. There are so many great musical influences here to draw from. Most families I know have ancestors who settled Texas. In fact, I have a close friend whose great grandmother’s diary is in the Alamo! I’m a third generation Texan and even my grandmother herded cattle down the Chisholm Trail! People everywhere love the whole idea of Texas. It’s almost a nation unto itself. And the people here really are NICE! And the musical community is no different.
Have you always had the ambition to be a singer? How did it all start?
I’ve always enjoyed singing. I call myself a “closet singer”, because no one really knew I enjoyed it so much except for my parents and very few close friends. My parents supported all my crazy ideas, and I’m not sure why they were not surprised by the music urges I had. A few years ago a good friend signed me up for the X Factor contest and then told me about it. Haha. The night before, laying on the couch, I asked my mom: “Well, what do you think”? I really had nothing to lose. My goal was to not have them scream “NO” the second I opened my mouth and sang my first note! I went on to the Audition, with my mom by my side, and I made it through several rounds of the audition process. I believe it started with 7000 entries, and got down to about 30, to be auditioned for the actual show. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the final cut, but left there with a feeling of, “Hmm, maybe I can do this, and maybe I’m not too bad”. Slowly I started opening up about singing and playing guitar, and I started to attend jam sessions around my town. This led to people’s word of mouth in getting me introduced to producers and recording songs in recording studios. As I’ve said, this “coming out” has been all new to me. It’s been fast paced, but an awesome ride so far!
And which artists have influenced you over the years?
When I was 6 till about 13 years old, Loretta Lynn was my big inspiration. After watching Coal Miner’s Daughter, I was convinced I could sing in my living room and some record executive would be psychic and come knocking on the door and hand me a deal! Haha. As I reached my teens, I then started looking at Dolly Parton and her keen business sense. What a business woman she is! I then tried to look at music as more of a business and what I needed to do to get out there. Then, in college, I was introduced to the awesome and great Carol King. From that point on, I have had a big place in my heart for her and her music. The songs she wrote, and the artists that have recorded them, are very impressive to me.
I’m always intrigued by an artist’s song writing process. Do you have a set routine?
I heard an interview one time with Wynonna Judd, and they asked her how she starts the song writing process. Her answer has always stuck with me. She said she strums a chord, and hums all the notes that fit that chord. From chord to chord she goes, writing words as they come to her. Though I’ve not had much practice, I find going with the chords seem to help me.
If you could perform a dream duet at a location of your choice, where would it be and with who?
Well, it would be quite simple, actually. I would love a night with Carole King at our old farm house, and instead of performing, we would just hang out, sing, tell stories, and I would learn from her. But you have to understand my town. Our back door is always open to friends and we are always cooking, playing music, canning some sort of food, and drinking cocktails. So once she came over, word would get out and we would have to restrain everyone from putting a parade together and posting her on the front page of our local newspaper. Not to mention, we would have to turn our pasture into a concert venue for everyone to see. Hahahaha.
To finish, tell us about your plans for the rest of the summer, and where can people find you on social media?
The remainder of the summer will be devoted to rehearsing the band and getting ready to hit the road! It will be a mixture of live shows and radio station visits where I will do interviews and play a song or two.
I also have a charity raffle event going on at the moment which will culminate at the end of July with me performing a private acoustic show for the lucky winner. All proceeds will go to a charity that has been created to help the survivors of the Texas, Santa Fe High School shooting that occurred recently. I grew up close to the school and even have family attending presently. So I felt compelled to contribute what I could to the cause.
Social Media…I am all over that while people roll their eyes, as I post about my life. Haha….I have a website with merchandise, music and schedule, as well as being on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube: