Amy Black

During the course of our XXQ's with Americana singer/songwriter Amy Black, the artist asked a favor of us. Her request? Figure out whether or not she's related to the king himself, Mr. Elvis Presley. Now, I don't have a membership to Ancestry.com nor have I swung by the local historians home, but I have a pretty good feeling that Ms. Black has some sort of relation to the King. If storytelling through song is indeed in the blood, then it must be true - Black has established herself as a premier folk draw on the indy circuit and she's only just recently taken to the task.
Her follow-up to “Amy Black & The Red Clay Rascals” is titled "One Time", a record described as "a real mix of rootsy music, good melodies and stories." We asked Amy to dive further into it, "To have Stuart Duncan on fiddle was a dream come true. And the other folks on the project, like Lyle Brewer on electric guitar (Sarah Borges) and Roger Williams on dobro – wow!  My producer Lorne Entress did an amazing job pulling everyone together and creating the sounds I was looking for."
Amy will be taking to the road shortly, so keep an eye out to catch her live. But if you can't wait that long, hop out and grab a copy of "One Time" right now. See her site for details (link below) and keep reading for all the answers to the XXQ's.

XXQs: Amy Black

PEV: You’ve said that, “My goal was to create music that successfully merged the acoustic and electric instrumentation that I love.” With that, how would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in your genre?

Amy Black (AB): I think of my sound as old time meets rock and roll. I’m a rocker at heart, but maybe not in the way people think of these days. I love acoustic instruments like the fiddle and the dobro. I can rock out just as much to a solo on one of these instruments as I can to one on the electric guitar. I think my mix of old and new, meaning electric, is what makes me and my new album stand out. The music is timeless.

PEV: What kind of music where you into growing up? Was anyone your main influence?

AB: I grew up singing hymns with my family. We sang together all the time at home and at church. My dad was a minister so I spent a lot of time at church. No organs or instruments though. It was only a cappella so you got to really hear the harmonies. I also listened to a lot of rock as a teen and then I met Bonnie. The first time I heard Bonnie Raitt I was 16. I heard her do “Thing Called Love” and was like, “That’s it. That’s the music I love.”

PEV: Having played in the business for a good time now, what was it like for you when you first started out?

AB: I actually haven’t been at it long at all. That’s what’s different about me. I never pursued music seriously until a couple of years ago. I decided it was now or never. I had a love for singing and performing and I was going to try to make something happen.

PEV: Do you remember the first time you thought to yourself – “I am really onto something!”?

AB: I do – I was at an open mic and sang a version of John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” and the crowd really responded. I had people coming up to me afterwards. I decided to try to book a show at the same venue and got 50 people out. I had people saying, “I didn’t even know I liked this music.” That made me feel great – like I was turning folks on to something really awesome that they didn’t know anything about before.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Amy Black show?

AB: A really, really good time. Total enjoyment of good music and great playing, high energy, good stories, and a connection with me. I love to engage my audience. I get them involved. We all have a good ole time with each other. What I’ve heard over and over is that people walk about happy, energized and loving music.

PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?

AB: I’m exactly where I want to be. Being on stage and performing music I love for fellow music lovers is the best thing going.

PEV: Any preshow rituals before going on stage or do you just wing it?

AB: No rituals really, besides a little vocal warm up.

PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for your music? Where do get your best ideas for songs.

AB: My music is from the Americana roots tradition. As I say at my shows, roots music born out of adversity. It tells the truth. My songs are really about being honest, telling it like it is. The tend to be focused on relationships – specifically romantic ones (for lack of a better word), but they are about more than that. I’ve also got some songs that are just stories about people’s lives, like my song “Molly.” All my songs are telling people’s stories – the good, the bad the ugly.

PEV: Tell us about your sophomore release, "One Time". What can fans expect from this work?

AB: I think they are going to love it! But I’m a little biased. They will find a real mix of rootsy music, good melodies and stories they can relate to. They will easily find themselves rocking out and then also maybe shedding a few tears – or being tempted to. They’ll love the playing on the CD. It’s outstanding. To have Stuart Duncan on fiddle was as dream come true. And the other folks on the project, like Lyle Brewer on electric guitar (Sarah Borges) and Roger Williams on dobro – wow!  My producer Lorne Entress did an amazing job pulling everyone together and creating the sounds I was looking for.

PEV: What kind of mindset were you in when you sat down to write “One Time” and how did you choose this title?

AB: Sassy. I don’t know where One Time came from exactly. I was messing around with the guitar, playing some blues chords and it started flowing. It’s definitely a feisty song. I can be a little feisty – just ask my husband. It’s also a song that reflects how I feel about my life. You on get once chance. Don’t waste it.

PEV: How is “One Time” different than your past work, “Amy Black & The Red Clay Rascals”?

AB: It’s different on a number of levels. First, the quality is different. My first record was one that came about from my band at the time getting into the studio and just cranking out a bunch of songs we’d been doing live. “One Time” is the real deal. Producer Lorne Entress took it on and right there that look it to the next level. He hand picked the players based on the vision he and I had for the record. And this time I was ready to really invest financially in the project. That made a difference in the outcome for sure. The other thing that’s very different is”One Time” has electric guitar. The original CD didn’t. I really wanted to add electric. I was ready for it. That was the mix I was looking for. I love Buddy Miller’s music and he’s a great example of mixing electric with the traditional instruments I love.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Amy Black?

AB: I already shared that I’m a preacher’s kid. Hmmmm… what else? What else? I’m supposedly related to Elvis. My mom is a Presley from Alabama. Could you guys run that down for me? I want to know once and for all if this true or not!

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?

AB: I haven’t reached that point yet. As I mentioned, I got a late start and in the meantime, I’ve been building a career in the business world. The work I do in business supports my music career. I couldn’t have made One Time without working the job I’m in now. I’m not 25 years old, just starting out, but I definitely still would like to see this be what I do with my life. Time will tell.

PEV: What one word best describes Amy Black?

AB: Passionate.

PEV: How is life on the road for you in the music world? Best and worst parts?

AB: I’m doing my first tour this year – so I will let you know when I know!

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career? What’s it like when you get to play at your hometown?

AB: I don’t have a hometown. I moved around my whole life. So I guess that means I have a bunch of hometowns! My friends and family are incredibly supportive. I’ve very lucky to have that kind of support.

PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

AB: Working on the business side of my music. I don’t have a manager, so I’m doing all the work. But that’s boring – when I’m not doing work or music, I’m hanging with my husband of 12 years, playing with my black lab, watching movies (big movie buff) and going to shows to see live music. I used to play a lot of volleyball – doubles is my favorite. I will get back to that again this summer!

PEV:  Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

AB: Me!

PEV: So, what is next for Amy Black?

AB: I have big hopes and plans for my life as a singer and songwriter. I LOVE the music I sing and perform. It’s in my soul. I love to see what it does to others too. Can’t wait to see what this year holds with “One Time.” My plans are to tour, to meet the people, to spread the music and to keep writing!

For more information about Amy Black and to get her new CD "One Time" visit www.AmyBlack.com

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