(CelebrityAccess) Maggie Rose would be the first to say that she’s rebooting a career after more than 10 years of being in the Nashville machine.
“I feel it’s a new chapter for me,” Rose told CelebrityAccess, “Eleven years into the game.”
Rose walked into a studio in 2017 and recorded an album’s worth of music, playing it live with 13 musicians. The songs may or may not be defined as R&B, rock or gospel but they are definitely not cookie-cutter girl country songs designed for pop-country radio. The title track of Change The Whole Thing, which dropped last year, veers toward soul while “I’m Yours” leans toward ’70s funk.
There was a time (read: 2015) when Rose was performing more traditional and legitimately good country songs like “Broken” but she and her bandmates appear to be on the front-end of a movement that suddenly has a figurehead in Kacey Musgraves and has a ragtag team in artists like Caitlyn Smith and Ashley Monroe (ah, heck, lets throw The Shadowboxers in there too).
Rose, who is about to embark on a tour that includes dates with Kelly Clarkson, addressed this shift away from the Nashville “powers that be.”
Are you heading out with a 13-piece band? How are you going to do this?
No, typically for live shows I’ll go out with an 8-piece outfit including myself, which is my touring band that I’ve had and Them Vibes, which is a band in Nashville that is part of my backing band for all the touring I have coming up this year.
So it’s still a pretty large band but we didn’t re-create the same outfit that we had in the studio.
It probably still sounds pretty gigantic, though.
Yeah, it’s a big production but they’re the family band, pretty much, and so much of the arrangement depends on the background vocals, and we want to give people as much of an authentic experience as we can provide. We really want to re-create the record for them. We did it live in the studio so I have the same people who played on the record on the road with me as well.
Some of the 13 people in your band play with Kelly Clarkson as well as Brothers Osbourne and Steven Tyler. Are we talking those musicians?
Yes, Kyle Walum is the bass player on my record and he’s played with me for several years and now he’s on the road with Kelly Clarkson so, coincidentally, it’s worked out but I have a bass player who travels with me regularly so give or take one or two players it’s pretty much the same band. And my drummer, who’s been with me for seven years, Sarah Tomek, is also part of Steven Tyler’s backing band when he plays with Loving Mary. They’re all pretty badass musicians with good credentials there. Brothers Osbourne, we had the keyboard player and guitar player on the record (but not touring).
Anderson East, for instance, travels with a large band like you do. Is it common?
No, it’s not. And it’s definitely an investment I’m making to have that large of a crew with me but they’re my friends and we collaborate together. And I also think about the show and what doubles as entertainment for the audience. It’s not just about re-creating everything sonically. It’s about having that energy that you’re talking about on stage. Watching eight people come together and play music is an exciting thing no matter what they’re playing. To have that many people in sync is a fun thing to bring an audience to.
It seems with you, Kacey Musgraves, Caitlyn Smith and likely others, there is a new genre out there that can’t be defined by anything that would be considered “modern” country, or whatever.
I’m so there with you. It’s such a conversation right now, especially for women in music, particularly women who are in the circles in Nashville. I’d consider Brandi Carlile part of that. We are going to make the music that resonates with the audience and I’m not a country artist, really, any more. I’ve definitely drifted away to my own lane, like what you’re talking about. But it’s because artists who are doing their job are going to make the music that’s them and is their individual sound. Kacey Musgraves can’t get played on country radio but she won Album of the Year. It’s not our job to fix the format that’s failing us. We need to make the music that our audience wants to hear.
It’s such a conversation right now, especially for women in music, particularly women who are in the circles in Nashville.
And Caitlyn Smith: I just did a show with her the other day in Nashville and she and I talked about the very same thing, where people will scratch their heads and say, “Well, what do we do with you? What are you?” And then we just go ahead and make the project. That’s what people look to artists to do. Sometimes they’ll fail but if they’re vulnerable and go for it and do it with conviction and honesty, then they’ll do it again and again.
With an understanding that you’ve received accolades from many media outlets, what is the feedback that you are getting, personally, about your new path?
For me, it’s been the exposure to all these different audiences. We just got off the Cayamo Cruise, which is catering to more of a roots/Americana audience and my music was right alongside Jason Isbell, Dawes, Emmylou Harris and Amanda Shires. When I first got on the boat I was, like, “Um, maybe I’m an outlier here. Maybe I’m not going to fit with this crowd.”
Of course, that wasn’t a warranted feeling; I felt like part of the family.
Kacey Musgraves can’t get played on country radio but she won Album of the Year. It’s not our job to fix the format that’s failing us.
And then we’ll do Peach Fest this summer, which is Trey Anastasio and more jam band kind of people. I’m hoping our music will go over well there.
And Kelly Clarkson. Her audience is more pop-leaning but we’ve played shows together and it seems to resonate with them.
That’s what’s been the most exciting about this record, that after living in Nashville for 11 years and then made to feel like I was on the fringes of what’s considered country music that I disregarded that and decided to do the music I think I do best. And it’s put me in front of audiences that I’ve never been in front of before.
It’s reinvigorated me. It’s introduced me to people who’ve never heard of me because I wasn’t swimming in these pools before.
With all of the cross-overs and bro-country hits and click tracks, it’s nice to see something else out there.
Thank you. I appreciate that. I believe there’s room out there for everybody. For whatever you want to make, there’s an audience. You just need to be smart about how you’re reaching them and, for me, I’m looking for consistency and connection and timelessness. Gone are the days where I’m trying to sit down and write a song, saying “Let’s write a radio single!”
I’m looking for consistency and connection and timelessness. Gone are the days where I’m trying to sit down and write a song, saying “Let’s write a radio single!”
I can’t do that anymore. Usually the best songs come about when you’re trying to serve that emotion you’re writing about or the story you’re trying to tell as opposed to having an objective that’s not as emotionally based.
I’m going to do this for a very long time and I’m going to say the things I’m going to always say, if I’m lucky enough to capture the words now.
Are you still building an audience? Where do you think it’s heading?
I think, right now, we’ve been lucky to retain people who’ve been following me over the years but it’s just now extended into new territory. The Cayamo people, the people who are going to these different festivals with quite a variety of names on the bill, it’s just about reaching and permeating deeper and further. I think I’ve brought a lot of people with me but it’s not necessarily going to be catering to that audience that just wants to hear your hit on the radio. It’s going to be people who want to immerse a little more into the full body of work.
I’m just going to try and be prolific and put out music more often. But this record has sort of set me on a new path and I hope people who’ve been with me will continue with me but we’ve broken into a new audience and I feel it’s a new chapter for me, 11 years into the game.
On the topic of collaboration, I did this record live with my friends and Them Vibes was part of the band, and I’m now featured on one of their songs that is coming out March 1, so it’s just a continuation of making music with my family band and just putting out stuff that is fun.
It’s called “Right On,” an awesome Sly & The Family Stone feelgood funky song. That’s the next thing coming, and we’re working on the following record right now.