Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to the LRP Foundation’s Music City Mardi Gras celebration. If you remember my previous post, LRP is a foundation that raises money for the treatment and support of patients with leukemia. When you hear the story behind the creation of LRP, it’s both heartbreaking and inspiring; but their Mardi Gras celebration was filled with so much joy and hope that you couldn’t help but walk away feeling you had bonded with everyone in attendance on one level or another. With everything from a silent auction that featured donations from Terri Clark, Luke Bryan, The Predators, The Grand Ole Opry, and many other local Nashville vendors, to amazing music thanks to Terri Clark and The Lovelock’s, the night was a beautiful celebration of life and hope.
I spent the evening drinking and dancing, not to mention running back and forth to check on my friend’s silent auction basket, and taking in the celebratory surroundings. It was truly such an amazing experience that showed me how strong a community Nashville is when it comes to causes that are close to their hearts. I was even blessed enough to get time with Terri Clark to talk about her connection to the cause. Check out my interview with Terri below!
How did you get involved with the LRP Foundation?
Terri: I met Janet, who is the founder of the foundation, about 15 years ago. We became friends because we were hanging out in the same spot a lot and kept running into each other. Around that time, I met her sister Lisa, who was in the hospital a lot with leukemia and had been battling with it for a really long time. I got to go visit her and she was just so funny and vibrant, even under the stress and the conditions that were happening to her at the time. It was really very inspiring being able to see somebody still crack jokes and not feeling sorry for themselves. She just had the best attitude.
At the time, I wrote a song on an album called “The One You Love” and it’s basically about when you’re close to somebody how helpless you feel when you have to let go of somebody that special because of things out of your control. It’s just the worst feeling in the world, that helpless feeling. Janet’s sister inspired that song. After she passed away they formed the foundation and started planning the first Music City Mardi Gras, in 2006… and I played that first one. So now, I’m here to play the 10th one! Which is pretty cool.
Janet: And you were gracious that first year. You’re gracious this year as well but, that first year I remember we were at dinner and I was telling you about it, and you said ‘I need to play it to try and help get it off the ground!’ So she really did get us off the ground and has been very instrumental in our success.
Terri: Oh stop! (laughs) Well… the foundation and the board members, they all work very hard and I love what it stands for, and what they do. They’ve raised half a million dollars since then, which is great. There’s a great silent auction, there’s a show, it’s Mardi Gras in Music City, which is really cool. Who doesn’t like Mardi Gras? Or a party?
How did your involvement in this, the 10th Anniversary, come about?
We were just having dinner and Janet asked me. She said, basically, jokingly “We need to get you to play the 10th anniversary!” And I just said, “OKAY!” (laughs) I don’t know if it was a ploy to get me out to dinner but… it’s a great way for me to be able to play this market without worrying about going out there and selling a ton of tickets. Because it’s a very competitive market, Nashville isn’t the easiest place to try and book a show, so I think if you can do something for charity that’s a great cause and your fans can come out to it, that’s just great.
How do you feel playing a charity show or fundraiser is different from the shows you do on your own? Would you say the dynamic is different at all?
I think there’s an energy in the room at all fundraisers, everyone is there for a great cause, so it adds to the whole vibe of the night. As long as the people on stage are having fun, I think everyone is going to have fun, regardless of where or what the event is. We’re gonna go have a good time! We rehearsed a whole new show yesterday, we’ve never played this set before so this is the second rehearsal tonight. So we’ll see what happens (laughs)!
Janet asked me, “How long can you play because we usually have a band that plays about four hours?” and I just said, “I’ll play as long as I can…” So I’m doing 19 songs! Whether you want me to or not. I’m doing every single that every came out whether it was a hit or not.
Janet: Wow… I didn’t even know that. That’s great!
You have a lot going on in your life right now. The America’s Morning Show on radio, the brand new album “Some Songs,” helping out with fundraisers and various charities. How do you find time between all of that to just be creative?
That’s probably the thing suffering the most at the moment. I can go golf but that doesn’t take up a lot of mental space in my head for having to come up with creative ideas. But writing, after being on the radio show and up at 3AM, then going to a writing appointment at 10 for the next four hours… that’s really tough to do. And gigs on weekend, it’s hardest because of the time zones and things like that. Like if I go play a show at Billy Bob’s at 10:30PM, then up for the radio show at 3:30AM Monday morning, that’s really hard. But, I’m getting the hang of it.
How is it working on the other side of radio after being the artist and creator for so long?
Being on stage and playing and singing is like breathing for me. It comes so naturally. It’s my passion and what I wanted to do when I was a little girl. So it’s my first love. The radio thing is a wonderful opportunity for me to branch out, but I’ve had to learn it, you know? I’m on training wheels with it. We’re just now kind of starting to get into the groove with it where everybody knows their role, and who should talk, and who shouldn’t talk. Surprisingly, the biggest thing is knowing when NOT to talk. The worst thing about morning radio is people talking all over each other until the person changes the station. It’s a different animal all together, but it’s fun learning the ins and outs of it.
With your most recent album (“Some Songs”) you did a Pledge Music Campaign. What was that experience like compared to the traditional album process you’ve experience throughout most of your career?
If you’d asked my 1995-self what I would have thought about the concept of that, I would have said you were crazy. There was no social media, nothing like that, so with it existing today it’s driven music and ways to make record to a whole different level that involves your fanbase. I’ve built a fanbase brick-by-brick, like a foundation, with 20 years of touring constantly and staying engaged with them and accessible… and I think if there were any one place where you could see what that looked like it was with the Pledge campaign. Because BOOM, it was right in front of us. You could see the number going up and the different pledges. It was great for me to get to know who they are as people at the same time, because it teaches me a lot about who I am as an artist, when I’m questioning “why are these people still around? why are they so fired up about what I’m doing?” It was a really great experience…
When you’re career started…
Back when you were 2…?
I’m not THAT young! (the whole room laughs) I felt like the landscape for females in country music was so different back then and it was a really good time. Recently, it’s sort of regressed backwards.
You’re the second person that has come in here and said that to me tonight!
It’s crazy! But, in your opinion, what do you feel changed and how do you feel we can get it back on track?
Really… I think things are cyclical and there’s really an ebb and flow to radio airplay. I don’t know that women have ever dominated over men on the charts but there has definitely been more equality than there is now. I think it’s going to swing back and that eventually the bubble has to burst. There just has to be a little more variety. The thing is country is more popular right now than its ever been. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a band thing, because it’s mostly male dominated. Hopefully that’s not an indication that labels are going to concentrate mostly on signing men. I’d like to hear a few more female voices, and definitely feel that the Maddie & Tae song showcased a lot of feelings that people have about the state of radio right now. But I don’t know that it necessarily changed anything.
So what’s up next for you in 2015 on top of everything else you’re working on?
(laughs) There’s not a whole lot of room for anything else. But I’m probably going to start doing some songwriting again. I kind of took a bit of a sabbatical and tried to focus on the radio show and touring on the weekends. Doing a pledge campaign, and the radio, the album, and touring… it was definitely a busy time. I don’t know what I’m going to do next recording wise. There are obviously things creatively I’d love to try, I just don’t know, I’m at a point in my career musically that I don’t have any obvious carrot dangling over me. Which is great, because I can be open to anything and explore whatever comes next.
A huge thank you to Terri Clark and the LRP Foundation for allowing me the opportunity to experience this fundraiser. It was an absolutely amazing night. Here’s to next year!