BRANDY CLARK: DEBUT SPOTLIGHT
When your grandmother enlists you to model her “I Skied Down Mount St. Helens May 18, 1980” t-shirts—complete with “authentic” burn holes—at the local flea market, you can be sure you’re going to grow up with a unique outlook on life. For acclaimed No. 1 songwriter Brandy Clark, it’s an outlook that has served her well.
Born and raised in the small Washington mill town of Morton – yes, in the shadow of Mount St. Helens, which erupted when she was just a little girl – Brandy developed affection for working-class people and the dangerous jobs many of them undertake to make ends meet. Her father, a logger, died in a work-related accident, her mother toiled in human resources at the mill, and Brandy herself worked amid the lumber, at a fencing mill. As such, she related to the hardship depicted in the film “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and became obsessed with the music of Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline and Merle Haggard.
But above all, Brandy adored eccentric personalities, and her debut album as an artist, 12 Stories, produced by Dave Brainard and scheduled to release Oct. 22 on Slate Creek Records, is full of them.
There’s the woman in first single “Stripes,” who fantasizes about killing her cheating husband but doesn’t want to be caught dead in an orange jumpsuit. There’s another who asks Jesus for help, but plays the lottery just in case in “Pray to Jesus.” And there’s the bored housewife in “Get High” who escapes daily drudgery by rolling joints at the kitchen table.
Prior to 12 Stories, Clark penned songs for other artists. Reba McEntire and Kenny Rogers have recorded her songs. Darius Rucker, Sheryl Crow and Kacey Musgraves have her compositions on their new albums. And The Band Perry gave Clark her first No. 1 single with “Better Dig Two,” followed shortly after by another No. 1 in “Mama’s Broken Heart,” cut by Miranda Lambert.
12 Stories introduces Clark as a performing artist. Its characters and their troubles combine to make a clear-eyed document of everyday life today. Its stories are dryly humorous, moving, sad and, most of all, real.
Watch Brandy Clark’s for “Stripes” here:
Who is your musical hero?
What song would you love to cover?
“‘Here You Come Again.’”
What book is on your nightstand?
“‘Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend,’ by Matthew Dicks.”
What do you sing in the shower?
“I don’t sing in the shower. It’s too easy to inhale water ;).”
What song do you wish you had written?
“George Strait’s ‘The Chair’ (written by Hank Cochran and Dean Rutherford).”
What phrase do you find yourself saying over and over again?
“At the end of the day.”
What mode of transportation do you prefer?
What actress would play you in a biopic about your life?
What do you hope people will say about you when they look back on your life?
“That I was a good person who made music that stood the test of time.”
If you weren’t a musical artist, what would you be?
What was your greatest performance to date?
“Opening a show in Carmel, Indiana for Sheryl Crow. Perfect venue and perfect audience.”
What would we never guess about you?
“That I spent my first two summers after high school fighting forest fires.”
GRAND OLE OPRY PHOTO: Brandy Clark backstage and onstage on Aug. 16, 2013 at the Grand Ole Opry. Photo by Sarah Pearson
For more on Brandy Clark, check out the Dec 2013/Jan 2014 issue of CMA Close Up.