Rainbows from over the Eastside - Over here, Amelia White on the UK and her great new record
East Nashville-based singer-songwriter Amelia White is no stranger to travel as she eeks out melodies steeped in regal beauty. Surrounded and respected by good people of this special area of music city has helped white immeasurably, to further her ability as a writer. "I am in this because I'm a writer" says White.
Over for a summer tour, both performing intimate gigs and those of a larger stage, festivals, Amelia White is also promoting her latest album Home Sweet Hotel (White-wolf Records), the album follows acclaimed releases Old Postcard, Blue Souvenirs and Black Doves among others.
How is the tour going?
Yesterday I walked around York. It’s beautiful. I love your county. My shows have been well attended, and I am selling cds and vinyl.
You have just played the Maverick Festival?
Yes, sir. That was a really great. It was so laid back, and with all the animals a wonderful festival to play.
This isn’t your first trip over here is it?
I came over four years ago; I was over and did a tour. It was with Mark Huff and it was at the height of the recession over here then. We had hoped for more people, and were a little disappointed at the numbers but we didn’t not waste time being unhappy being here, because it is so different to the US and loved every minute of our time here.
Playing festivals opposed to your normal show attracts a different audience?
Yes, it is. I have got a couple more festivals coming up here. The Platform Festival on 16th (July), and then the very last dates at the SummerTyne Americana Festival (23rd and 24th July). I know my last show is going to be a ticketed in the round performance (with Brennen Leigh, Yola Carter and Amythyst Kiah).
As for your musical upbringing what kind of music was mainly played around your house?
It would be my older brother’s musical collection of The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Muddy Waters. It was an interesting mix, lets see what else…. I can’t think of the others right now, but I got into Elton John, Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor. But it was the Beatles, and their great melodies sunk into me. They say I do Americana, but I believe that sense of melodies became imbedded in my head. I also sang in the Lithuanian Church choir and loved the melodies and it sunk into my head.
You mention your love of melody. I particularly enjoy that aspect of your music.
Well thank you. In Nashville there are so many different songwriters and you kind of get known for different things and I am kind of known for my melodies. there.
Lithuanian Church how does it differ from other denominations.
A lot of the hymns are based on Bach, and the pastor of the church that I grew up in was really into music. It was great for me, just perfect, although I can’t say I am a great church person at this point but super grateful for singing in the choir and leaning how to sing harmonies and the beautiful melodies.
The church is the nurturing point for a lot of singers.
Yeah, some of the great players, like for instance the guy who plays drums on my record and also produced, Marco Giovino when he first came to Nashville he played gospel music in a lot of southern churches. A lot of players do that, because when they move to Nashville it’s a job they can do. It is kind of interesting because he then went on play with Robert Plant and Band Of Joy and Buddy Miller, but he really enjoyed his time drumming in the southern church.
It is good news that you managed to have someone of his stature produce your new record.
He played with me, even when he was touring with Robert Plant when he came home to Nashville he would play gigs with me. He loves my music and I love his playing. There is no one who plays like him, we are just good friends.
That is one of he things about Nashville, especially East Nashville where you have this fabric of musicians who are so close and adaptable when it comes to playing the music of others. Musicians who can drop by and make other people sound good.
That is totally the truth. It is an amazing place to be. There is a real community spirit there for sure, I love it so much living there. I’ve now been living in East Nashville for fourteen years, and all of it in that part of town and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in Nashville; we are a little more liberal side of music etc.
Like Tommy Womack who does the bio notes for your website.
I love his music. Tommy is such a great songwriter.
He is an off the wall musician, the music he made with Will Kimbrough is absolutely brilliant.
Actually, I wrote a song with Tommy, it is a good song. I just have not pulled it out and polished it up.
Talking about good songs “Beautiful & Wild” is a most beautiful piece of work.
It is a tribute to my fried Duane Jarvis, another guy who spent some time in East Nashville. He was a great songwriter who wrote “Still I Long For Your Kiss” with Lucinda Williams on her album Car Wheels On A Gravel Road, he just became a good friend and mentor. We actually wrote together, just a lovely guy and then became ill and passed away. There’s no insurance sometimes for us musicians wryly adds White
He was a greatly respected. Back to your childhood if I may. What age were you when you left Virginia.
I left Virginia when I was 12. My parents are both real southern Virginians, but I grew up in Washington DC, in Arlington the armpit of Washington as we call it laughs White.
Moving to Boston would be quite a change for you.
Yeah, it was, but that was sort of where I went to school for English literature and drama, and learned a lot there. I then became involved in theatre and playing music. I was actually involved with a theatre company and they invited me to write some music for this play and perform it. Then I started to feel this is it for me writing songs and playing music, and I got really going on that. I played all over Boston, and played in the subway which was great because I could have a couple of gigs on the weekend and play in the subway during the week so I could quit my job, and just do music. It kind of got me going, it was a great place to be at the time.
You have Berkley and over on the other side of bridge you had Cambridge.
Yeah, I would also play on the street on Cambridge.
Mary Gauthier was around then, playing her music. As was Lori McKenna she was around, there were a lot of really good songwriters.
You would no doubt have gained a great deal of inspiration being involved in the Boston folk scene.
I definitely did. I will say that moving to Nashville brought that up to a new level. There is nothing like Nashville when it comes to songwriters. Oh Boy!
It would be a great more intense there with so many people there just to write songs.
That is so very true. Sometimes, when I first moved there I did not have laundry and the first time I went to the Laundromat the guy there was a great songwriter, it was kind of funny she laughs.
Getting away from Nashville to perform would be your next move.
The thing about Nashville is you can’t just play there, because it is a music city so you are really only playing to get better and be seen, and learn what you do wrong. You don’t make any money, so you have to start touring (or you starve). I would go back to Boston because I had friends there, and would tour there. Anywhere I had friends and could stay and get them to come out. You just start to tour and build it up, play venues where people want to have you come back.
You have a great guy who often partners you in Sergio Webb.
Yeah, Sergio is amazing. I wish I could have brought him to England, but financially it wasn’t possible. Hopefully I will bring him next time if things allow.
Have you done any writing with Sergio?
Yes, we have on my new album Home Sweet Hotel we wrote the song “The Road Not Taken” and we also wrote a song that made it onto his last album but not mine and we actually just wrote one a couple of days before I came over here.
Do you do many songwriting collaborations?
I do. I also write a lot of songs on my own, but write a lot with other people.
Do you write much while you are away like now, when travelling?
I write on the road. Last night when I was coming home to where I am staying. Anyway, I stopped and worked on a song a little bit. I had my computer with me, and tweaked on the words. I quite like to write when I am away, because you are out of your routine that for me can be a time when I am most creative.
I understand you lived in Seattle for a little while. What made you move across there?
To honest, I kind of came to a point in music when I was living in Boston where I just…this happens every now and then with me like I can’t deal with this it is too hard explains Amelia. It is a rough life you know, and I wanted to quit. I figured I would pick some place far away, and moved there. Not long after I moved there I ended up writing some good songs and this great producer, Tucker Martine heard me play, and said let’s make a record. I got into a festival there so pretty soon the idea of quitting was long gone.
You mentioned Tucker Martine who has done some great work.
Yes, he really is. He’s incredible. I got to work with him, it was a while ago and I was just getting my sound together and he was nothing like as famous back then as he is now. He was great to work with.
Getting away from famous people to much mentioned places, I see you have a date coming up when you return home at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, California.
I am real excited about that. After I get home I’ll have just about enough time to take a shower before I head out to LA.
I know a few artists have made live recording there. Norman Blake for one.
It is just this old guitar shop. They have incredible, live shows and somewhere I have wanted to play for years. You kind of know that something is going right for your career when they want you to play there. It is a real honour.
I notice you have had some of your songs used on the TV shows Justified and Summerland.
Yeah, getting songs on TV shows is a nice way to make some extra money. I am always trying to make stuff like that happen. I think if all goes well I will have a couple of songs that are due to be used help promote a film, and petty excited about that. I am just waiting for it to be finalised. If it comes through it will be some really good money for me.
What have been the highlights for you so far in your musical career?
You know, to be honest, for me the real highlight for me is just the work itself. Sometimes writing with certain people comes to mind. Writing with Tony Furtado, he plays guitar, Dobro, banjo and writes songs. We were on the same record label in 2006, 2007 and wrote a lot of songs with him and we had a real connection with our writing and that was just a special time. Then there is a guy in Nashville who I love to write with who is a professional writer and doesn’t play live, only plays for his publishing company. He has written a lot of big hits; for people like Kenny Chesney and even pop hits back in the day, he wrote for Tiffany. Whenever I write with him (Jon McCelroy) it is always special. I have written some of my best songs with him. I wrote “Dogs Bark” from the new album was written with him. A couple of albums ago I wrote “Lonely Sound” which I think is one of the best country songs I have written. For me it is all about certain moments when I am writing with people. I am in this business because I am a writer. I love to write the lyrics, and it’s from there the melodies come, so for me the greatest highlights are the work itself!
I guess the people you admire most are songwriters?
I just love to write, that is where it all comes from for me. I feel I sing and play because I write. Some people have these great voices, and learn to write later because they have a voice. To me everything stems from writing. When I grow old and my voice changes I intend to keep writing, write some short stories and hopefully a novel, I would like that.
I believe there’s a lot of miles left in your voice because you don’t force anything?
I do love to sing. It’s real me, you are getting the real thing. There is nothing put on about it.
- Artist Website http://www.ameliawhite.com/