As promised I have lots of interviews from Buckle and Boots coming up, however I’ve been dying to bring you this next interview for so long and I just couldn’t wait any longer! As many of you know I have just finished my final year of uni which also means I just finished my dissertation. On my travels to Nashville back in April I had the opportunity to interview two of my favourite writers for my dissertation research, Jessi Alexander and Barry Dean and now I’ve got my results back I can share those interviews with you (I ran the risk of being accused of plagiarising myself before, bizarre I know!). So here is my interview with the “I Drive Your Truck” and “The Climb” songwriter. Tomorrow I shall bring you the interview with Barry Dean and later on in the year I hope to publish my dissertation as a book, and you guessed it, it’s all about Country Music. It’s entitled Controversy in Country Music: Politics, Religion and Social Issues and the Changing Fan Demographic. In this conversation Jessi and I spoke about Gender Inequality and Country Music. We only had a few minutes to do this interview after she came off stage at Tin Pan South hence why it isn’t very long.
I know you’ve spoken in writers rounds before about your journey and how hard it is to make it, and I know you had an artist career, I just wondered if you could tell me a bit more about that journey to becoming a hit writer?
Absolutely, I moved from West Tennessee, close to Memphis and didn’t really know that I would be a songwriter necessarily, for me the idea of making a living making music was enough. I was a back up singer, I was a demo singer, I sang in bar bands and all that stuff and then in 1999 I signed my first publishing deal and people would hear me sing and say well why aren’t you an artist? So by 2003/2004 my first record was made and it came out in 2004/2005 and it just wasn’t for me you know, I mean I still consider myself an artist because I make up songs and I sing and perform but I wasn’t a recording artist necessarily in the sense of, someone that kind of dances that dance. I’m creative and I’ll wake up everyday with different song ideas. I felt stifled being an artist because you have to sing the same songs and do the same act and there’s a lot more expectations to fitting in boxes and really honing into something and I really just want to be creative, some days I’ll want to write Country songs and other days I want to write Bluegrass songs. Basically I just found myself past the artistry and was writing songs and when I did that everything fell into place.
Can you tell me a bit about your experiences as a female in Country music, what you experience and what you see other writers and artists experience?
It’s hard to say I mean I feel like songwriters; there’s not many of us female writers having success, maybe ten of us compared to the sixty men or whatever that are writing the hits but we don’t feel stifled because we feel like we’ve been kind of over here secretly writing whatever we want, like “I Drive Your Truck” or “Mine Would Be You” risky kind of songs, I did that because no one was really paying attention, same as Brandy Clark with something like “Mamas Broken Heart” or Natalie Hemby there’s so many great female writers but I think they didn’t really focus on us so we were able to do what we want but I feel like we are breaking down the barriers, literally everyday and I just think we’re all excited for the new wave of females that have come out and that are recording our songs, female songs.
I shall be bringing lots more interviews over the coming days and weeks, it’s a very exciting time here at Best of British Country Music! Be sure to keep up to date with the latest news, reviews and interviews by following us on twitter: @BoBCountryMusic.