Anna Kline and I met several years ago while we both were dreaming big dreams and helping out with the Crossroads Film Festival in Jackson, Mississippi. (If you’re a filmmaker, or just love movies, I HIGHLY recommend this festival. The whole team works hard to put on a great festival steeped in southern hospitality.) Anna and I immediately connected over our love of movies and great music.
Fast forward a few years and her journey in life has taken her all the way from Mississippi to North Carolina where she is pursuing her dream of making great Americana/Bluegrass music.
What made you decide to get into the music field? I am from a long line of creative types. My Mom’s side is especially rife with talented composers, musicians, writers, filmmakers, and singers — from my great-grandfather who sang and played fiddle and piano, to my grandmother who played piano and was in a gospel radio show band in the 1930s, to my mother who sang in the coffee houses in the 60s. And that’s just a few examples. My cousin, John Hilliard, composed music that was performed at President Clinton’s inaugural church service and another cousin, Macon McCalman, was a well-known character actor that appeared in films and sitcoms. I grew up with songs in my head and began to learn how to sing harmonies from an early age. So, it was kind of no-brainer that by high school, I was already caught up in it, too.
Who are your major influencers? Many of my major influencers have one thing in common – they all have the blind abandon when pursuing what they love and a no-frills honesty about them. And they aren’t all musicians either. They just can’t help do what they do and they make no excuses for it either. They have to do it and they also have a lot of heart and feeling. Nanci Griffith was my first and earliest influence. As a songwriter, she just melted my brain. It’s hard to even think of them all – because I read a lot and have been influenced by so much during the different phases of my life. Recently they include the Brené Brown, Julia Cameron, Paul Simon, my Mother, my Grandmother, and a lot of other friends and artists, who aren’t known, but they are important to me because of the kind of person they are and the valuable lessons I learned about myself from them and how that shaped my perspective.
How important is it to you to protect your creative work? It’s extremely important to me, especially since I’ve worked in the intellectual property world. And it becomes more important as you build a brand – especially because people like to get things for free (who doesn’t?!). That being said, I do think it is important for me to get my music out there to as many ears as possible. You’re walking a fine line, here…and it’s what so many artists and industry professionals go back and forth about constantly. It’s important to copyright your work and get fairly compensated for its use.
I don’t mind people sharing my music –we’re going to give out free downloads – but I also think it’s important for people to know that if you like it, support us any way you can. Tip us at a show, pay the $5-10 cover, give us a couple of bucks for a sticker, go ahead and buy the album or listen to it over and over again on Spotify – whatever. And here’s where I step on my soap box: We do this for a living. We don’t have a day job to fall back on for insurance and a sure-fire pay check every other Friday. When it comes your performance time or your songs, I put my 8 hours a day into that, just like people do at their job. The world at large would revolt if at the beginning of their work day, they were told they wouldn’t get paid for their time either.
Is there a quote or philosophy that you adhere to when taking inspiration from other creative works? My philosophy is mainly I think is a mindset more than anything. I try to be mindful about my voice as an artist and make sure it’s not a copy but an original representation of how I see things. I have a list of words or phrases that I like, ideas conjured up from other works that I like to put in my own words and say it in my way. It’s all interpretation, so I work to make it mine as much as I can. Originality is extremely difficult these days because so much has been done before. But a unique perspective is the key.
What is one piece of business do you know now that you wish you had known when you started ? Get it in writing. Period. Get the terms written out in words so there is no mistaking someone’s intentions and expectations.
Any books or websites or resources you would recommend? I would recommend reading industry articles – from Billboard to the Wall Street Journal. Know what’s trending – don’t get caught up in a trend but be aware of what’s going on out there. “All You Need to Know About the Music Business” by Donald Passman. I think it’s on its 8th edition now. That was the first book I bought for my music business classes. Another good one is “Touring Smart” by Martin Atkins that I got last year. There are plenty of YouTube videos, articles to be had…that is the good thing about our digital age. You can’t say you didn’t have the resources to learn! CD Baby (www.cdbaby.com) is a good resource. They have a blog, PDF downloads with instructions on touring and marketing your music – there is so much out there.
Now to the not so serious questions …
1. Hobbies? I love photography and now that I live in Asheville, NC, I get outside and explore/walk every chance I get. I also watch a lot of documentaries.
2. Favorite candy? I am a fool for chocolate and salty, crunchy things!
I appreciate Anna taking the time to let us know about her music and her creative process. If you would like to get in touch with Anna directly you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is the link again to listen to their music www.reverbnation.com/gritsandsoul . Also, do yourself a favor and take a listen to some of the musical influences that Anna mentioned. I’m so appreciative of her for exposing me to some new people I have not heard about before. Isn’t that what it’s all about? I’m excited to see what the future holds for this group!
Thanks for following and stay tuned in!