By Nikki Hedrick
Amy Black has twice performed at the 30A Songwriters Festival, and during the January 2016 event she played at the Seaside Repertory Theatre. Now, the REP has invited her back March 24, and she’s bringing her Muscle Shoals show and band with her.
“For this show in particular, because this is a show that I’ve created and that I present, it has some of my own material in it,” says Black. “But it has a lot of classic stuff. I would describe it as a little more soul, country soul, that type of thing. You’re talking about Wilson Pickett, Etta James, and Mavis Staples…people who are really known for being more on the soul side of life.”
Before Black released The Muscle Shoals Sessions album and toured behind it, she would have considered herself an Americana artist or part of the singer‑songwriter genre. “But this whole Muscle Shoals thing opened up my eyes to this whole other option with me, with my voice,” she says of her evolution as an artist.
“I’ve always had kind of a soulful sound, but I’ve learned that I can do things with my voice that I didn’t even know I could do when I was just singing my own music. I want to incorporate that now as I move forward and I write more stuff— how do I get my voice to do that stuff on some of the songs that I’m writing?”
Although Black is only in the early planning stages of her next album, she is considering pulling from the power of another music hub. “Places are something that have kind of become important to me, and this Muscle Shoals project kind of hit home—to be able to record in a place with that much history. You walk in and kind of feel the presence of the people who went before you, or at least their legacy. So in an ideal world, on my next project I’d like to find another place that has a classic appeal, and maybe a story behind it that lends to the music.”
Black says the best way to support independent musicians is “taking home some of our merchandise. That helps a lot. If you want to help, come to live shows, purchase the music. And the other thing is a lot of artists these days run campaigns to fund our projects because we don’t have a record label backing us. So if you really love an artist, a great way to support them is to purchase something on that list of items. All that helps.”
Supporting an artist is only half the battle—first they have to ensure there are opportunities to discover them. “I think taking other people’s (music) recommendations, like Central Square Records right there in Seaside,” says Black. “Those guys are awesome, and they know a lot about a lot of different genres. Just walk and in and be like, Hey, this is the kind of music I like, do you have any recommendations for me? Just having a conversation with another human being who is really in touch can guide you.”
As for Black’s March 24 show? “I’m excited to come back, and I am loving the 30A area.” She hints that she may return in the fall as well.