#CMchat Exclusive Interview: Megan Barker

Singer/songwriter Megan Barker wasn’t planning on writing a song for her late father, Bobby B. Barker, for her EP, but she ended up writing “I Cuss When I Pray” ft. Apollo’s Crown in his honor. Born into the music industry, her father wrote songs for country legends such as Ronnie Milsap and Barbara Mandrell. Her mother, Barbara Smith-Barker, was also a touring artist and session singer. Megan spent her childhood in studios and writing sessions where she learned at an early age how to craft a lyrical narrative.

‘A little over a year ago I moved back to the town I was born. As soon as I arrived, I hit the ground running songwriting-wise. I fell into these incredible tunes with my insanely talented co-writers. There’s a song on here for every mood. Time to party? TEQUILA TOLD ME TO. Gettin over someone? IT DONT BREAK MY HEART. Dreamin of what the future holds? WHEN MY BOOTS WERE NEW. Miss someone who’s no longer here? I CUSS WHEN I PRAY.’ (Megan Barker Facebook post)

Barker’s EP release party is scheduled for May 17 at the next Jammin In Jammies, a writers night/networking event. This will be the first at the new location, Whiskey Rhythm Saloon, for the weekly event she hosts. Sleepwear is encouraged but not required. It will be a full band show, with Khiana Meyer (co-writer of “Tequila Told Me To”) and Apollo’s Crown (featured on Barker’sI Cuss When I Pray”).

Is this the first time you’ve worked with producer Brad Hill? 

Yes! It’s actually a funny story how we met. He produced an EP from a group here in Nashville that I’m friends with. I loved how their project turned out so I decided to reach out to Brad and see if he’d be into the idea of producing my upcoming EP. We got together and instantly hit it off so we made plans to start the recording process! It wasn’t until I went home that night after meeting him that I Googled him. (Rookie mistake. Always Google before the meeting.) I had no idea he had worked with Maren Morris, Brothers Osborne, and Brett Young. But that was just an awesome bonus. I was very excited about the energy we had together.

Having lost my dad at a young age, your song, I Cuss When I Pray, hit home. How did the co-write with Kelly McKay come about?

First off, I’m so deeply sorry for your loss. Losing a loved one, especially a parent, is the worst thing in the world. My heart goes out to you.

I’m so glad you love the song! It’s definitely a favorite of mine and become a fan favorite as well. Kelly and I got together to write one day and she had this idea. She described it as, ‘I curse when I pray or I cuss when I pray.’ As a proud southern girl, I immediately gravitated to, ‘cuss.’ I loved the idea so much, but we weren’t sure exactly where to take it. I was a little nervous to write a song that referenced losing my dad. It was still so raw. Plus, I thought it was too depressing a subject matter and no one would like it. Boy, was I wrong. I’m glad we took the song that direction because the first time I performed it out, I had multiple people come up to me and say how much they loved it. I was stunned. I couldn’t believe how many people were relating to it. This song is so honest. It’s so real. Every time a crowd applauds for it, I get chills and am overcome with gratefulness.

What are the backstories to the songs on your new album Leather Souls?

Well, you just heard the story behind, ‘I Cuss When I Pray!’ 

Tequila Told Me To‘ is such a fun tune. I instantly knew it was special. I wrote this with Bobby Evans and Khiana Meyer. Bobby is such a fun and talented guy. Khiana is one of my favorite people in Nashville. Her talent level consistently blows me away. She brought in the idea and we all fell in love. It wrote itself. We all walked out knowing it was the real deal and that people would love it. I never imagined people would walk up to me in random places and yell, “MM BOY TEQUILA TOLD ME TO!” But I absolutely love it.

It Don’t Break My Heart‘ was another genius Kelly idea. She brought it to a write with me and Nancy Deckant, another fantastic Nashville writer. The song is a new take on a breakup. Instead of being sad about a breakup, you’re sad about NOT being sad about a breakup. (I know that’s confusing.) I thought the idea was so brilliant. Kelly has this remarkable way of coming up with fresh ideas. This is hard to do because so many ideas have already been done. The thing I hear the most about this song is, ‘I’ve felt this way exactly, but I didn’t know how to say it.’ What a cool feeling to find a way to articulate feelings we all have.

When My Boots Were New’ was an idea I had. I have this special pair of boots. They’re red with black roses and they are WORN OUT. They were custom designed by my Mama. I was thinking one night about all the adventures me and these boots have been on. I thought about all the sights we’ve seen and all the people we’ve met. I pondered the idea and then took the first verse into my co-write with Kelly. It wrote itself pretty quickly from there.

Your Thursday night Jammin in Jammies writers night and networking – what prompted you to start it?

Jammin In Jammies has just moved to Thursday nights at Whiskey Rhythm Saloon on Division. It’s Music Row’s Biggest Pajama Party! I wanted to create an evening that combined networking + hit songwriters + some of the best emerging talent in Nashville. The first thing they tell you when you move to Nashville is to GO OUT AND NETWORK. I think this is a fun way to meet people. ‘Nice onesie,’ is quite an icebreaker.

What’s something you wished people asked you?

I really appreciate you asking about the songwriting process. I truly enjoy talking about the details of creating music. I’m a real nerd. Whether that’s songwriting or being in the studio, I just love talking about music. 

What’s it like having people listen to you singing vs. listening to your songs when you’re a songwriter? Does it feel more vulnerable to be the one singing the words?

I’ll always be a songwriter. It’s in my blood and it’s a huge part of my identity as a human. But I’m an artist first and foremost. It’s probably selfish but as much as I love writing songs, I always enjoy writing songs for me more than for other people.

If you weren’t singing, what would you be doing?

I really only know music, but if I weren’t singing, I’d probably be writing. I love being an entertainer and a writer. It’s who I am. I also love rescuing animals. I’m very passionate about that. I have a house FULL of rescue kitties. I hope to use my platform one day to stop euthanizing homeless animals.

What’s it like to be growing in popularity and more recognized? Do you enjoy that aspect of the business?

I enjoy every aspect of what I do. It has been really cool getting recognized and building a reputation for myself in Nashville. People from all over the world dream of getting to do what I’m doing. It’s definitely an uphill battle and I work extremely hard, but I wouldn’t trade any of it for one minute.

 Where do your writing ideas come from?

EVERYWHERE. Sorry to not be more specific, but they literally come from anywhere. I could be listening to a commercial on the radio. I could see someone’s t-shirt. I could be having a conversation with someone over coffee. You gotta be on your game 24/7 and be ready to hear ideas! It’s part of the job. 

What’s it like singing other people’s songs and how does it compare to singing your own?

I love singing in general, but singing my own words and melodies is the best. 

What is touring like for you? Something you enjoy – best and worst parts? 

I look forward to traveling the whole country and then the world! I definitely am guilty of not taking good care of myself so that’s the hardest part for me. I have to take care of myself otherwise I feel terrible physically. But I can’t wait to be in a city near you.

Connect with Barker on Facebook and Instagram. 

Author: Donna Block

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