Country-blues singer Maggie Rose wants you to know that she's not your typical girl-next-door type, as evidenced by her song "Mostly Bad," on her debut record Cut to Impress. Released earlier this year, the record has already created quite a bit of buzz for the blonde belter around Nashville, even becoming an integral part of the new generation of females.
Nashville Gab recently spoke with Rose about her current single "Better" and what a blessing the song has turned out to be, as well as the dark story behind the murderous "Preacher's Daughter" and what she did to shed the good girl image on her album (and much more).
Nashville Gab: You performed the National Anthem on the Riverfront Stage recently. Were you afraid you would botch the lyrics?
Maggie Rose: I always think it’s the scariest song to sing ever. As soon as I was done, I was like ‘well the scariest part of my week is over.’ Now, I can just enjoy and meet fans.
[Adding:] It’s not our song to mess up. It’s our nation’s song. It’s sacred to a lot of people. I sang the anthem at the Steelers-Eagles game, and the weeks leading up to that were excruciating. I’d lay in bed and go over the lyrics in my head and hope muscle memory would sink in. I found out the day before that all the words are on the jumbotron while I was singing. I try to remember that time I got through it, every time I do it now.
NG: Your current single is “Better.”
MR: Yes. I didn’t write [it], and I actually heard it [from] a friend of mine, who knew what I was going through [at the time] and played it for me. It offered me this moment of reassurance. I thought ‘if I can go through what I’m going through and feel moved and comforted by a song that I didn’t write, I want to share that feeling with my listeners.’ It’s been one of the most humbling experiences for me with the song. I’ve had people come back, sharing immensely personal stories with me about what they’re going through and how it helped them. I’ve heard about people losing their spouse or getting a divorce or losing their job or dealing with cancer. Everyone has a reason to feel better. People are dealing with devastation every day. It made my eyes really open to what that song can be about to so many people.
NG: Your new album ‘Cut to Impress’ opens with a song called ‘Preacher’s Daughter.’
MR: It was actually inspired by a relationship I was in, but you wouldn’t think ‘oh, murder mystery! It must be about some guy she dated.’ I didn’t date a murderer. [laughs] I’ll tell you this story. It’s definitely long and really personal. I was dating this guy, and in the beginning of the relationship, he painted himself in a very romantic light. He told me that his fiance had died in a car crash five years ago. I immediately sympathized with him, ‘oh, that’s so terrible. Let me fix you,’ as every woman does. I was pretty young, and my mom was visiting me from Maryland, where I grew up. We were catching up about this guy, and I’m like ‘he’s met all my friends, but I haven’t met any of his friends. Whenever we hang out, we’re always in Nashville at my apartment, and I don’t really know where he lives. He’s been through this terrible tragedy, so I don’t want to ask questions.’ My mom is like ‘no.’ She did a background check on him while I was sleeping. [She] found out he was married, and I did further research and found a baptism announcement and discovered that there’s also a kid in the picture. I called up the preacher who baptised the little girl. I was like ‘this guy is creepy, and I think this is someone in your community.’ He said ‘not only is he married with a kid, but he’s a deacon at my church.’ That is what inspired me to write [this song] and make the deacon this kind of slimy, murderous villain. It’s my own fictional made-up narrative. It was fun. It was a way to take a jab at him but also not glorify what he did.
[Adding:] I kind of just smile every time I sing it because I know that in a way, I’m satisfying whatever anger I had. Also, I got a great story out of it that will live way beyond him.
NG: Is that a potential single down the road?
MR: I hope so. It was our template with how we produced the album. We wanted to capture that grit and swampiness. Not every song demands what ‘Preacher’s Daughter’ does, but there’s elements of that throughout the rest of the album.
[Adding:] It was actually one of the later songs that we recorded [for the album]. My co-writer Connie Harrington and I did a demo of that song, and then, I performed it and kept getting really good feedback. Everyone is unsure of it because the subject matter is a little more risky. There’s a body count on this album. Country music to me is storytelling. It really just organically came to be what my band’s live sound is about.
NG: You have another song called ‘Mostly Bad.’ What’s that song about?
MR: I actually wrote that song with the guy I’ve been dating for three years. We wrote it awhile ago. He knows me very well, and he’s like ‘I think people need to know you’re not the girl next door. There’s a lot of girls out there that want to send that message. They want to be taken seriously. There’s a sexy side to you, a mischievous side to you that should be celebrated in women.’ Since he can see me in that way, he helped bring that out in me and had a lot of fun writing that. I hear more women come up to me and quote that song verbatim after hearing it once because it speaks to people. They want to let loose.
NG: The album title leaves an impression that you are addressing the fact that females have a harder time breaking through in Country music than males. Was that intention?
MR: That was my objective when writing that song ['Mostly Bad']. It’s not that I want to be singing angry tell-off songs. I think there’s a place for those songs, of course, but that’s not my only goal. It’s about celebrating who you are as an individual and carving out your own place that’s all your own. We chose ‘Cut to Impress’ as the title because that’s what I want people, men and women, young and old, to hear this album and feel.
NG: Who were your biggest influences growing up?
MR: It has a lot to do with what my mom exposed me to. Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Mary Chapin Carpenter…those are three women that, from a songwriting standpoint, I really admire. My first concert was Shania Twain. I love Michael Jackson. My dad listened to Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys and The Beatles. I got a pretty good spectrum of music that I listened to, but I gravitated towards Country, as a writer. That’s what rang true to me.
NG: Are there any current artists that have impressed you or influenced you?
MR: I admire Kacey Musgraves. She’s totally all her own person. I think that’s inspiring for other young women to see. I hope they follow her example. I think Kacey and I have a lot of similar viewpoints about things. Then, Miranda Lambert is another one. I think she’s really ambitious and works really hard. Pink is a rockstar. She’s not a Country singer, but I love her. She’s such an amazing performer. There’s a lot of really strong women out there that are just kicking butt. It’s a great time to be in Country, as well.
Read the full interview here.
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