Face the Music: Amelia White 

Virginia native Amelia White has earned a spot—with the backing of her band The Blue Souvenirs—as a well-respected regular on the local singer/songwriter scene. While she continues to play locally, White has traveled across the country, an influence heard in her dreamily expansive folk-pop sound. She has toured with roots-music knockout Rosie Flores and shared the stage with the likes of Catie Curtis, Dayna Kurtz and Amy Rigby.

White's last album, Blue Souvenirs, landed a spot on NPR's All Songs Considered. Now about to release her new album, Candy Heart, White talks about musicians who inspire her and balancing her passion for music with her distaste for the business.

Describe your music, please.

It's neo-folk pop...a little gritty, a little pretty. Think Chris Isaak meets Patty Griffin meets Aimee Mann meets Lucinda.

What's the first album you ever bought and where is it now?

That's a big question. Before I ever bought a record, I was sneaking into the basement of my childhood home in Virginia and scratching up my brother Paul's records. My faves were Beggars Banquet, the Stones; The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper; and Elton John. I think, though, the first one I bought was a Beach Boys. Unfortunately, it got sold to some junkshop years ago.

What song would you never want to hear again, and why?

Hard to narrow down, but recently, that Train song with that line about "the best soy latte that you ever had and me"—"Drops of Jupiter." Yuck. Too PC or something, too Friends, trying too dern hard, and it was on every second, Yeesh.

What's the best gig you ever had?

I just had one of my all-time faves opening for Last Train Home at the Iota in DC last month. I had a good one on my birthday a few years ago opening for John Wesley Harding in Seattle, bad hangover next day.

What's the worst gig you ever had?

I remember one at Johnny Ds in Boston where I'd bought a new used guitar and the strings kept sliding out of the notches in the bridge mid song...ack. It sucked.

Tell me about the new album.

It's all finished. It'll be released in EP form at the end of August on the East Coast while my team shops the full length. I'm really happy with it. Neilson Hubbard and Brian Brown (Juliana Hatfield) at the helm, amazing guys. Great players/singers, most from Nashville, what a pool here—from Doug Lancio to Paul Griffith to Brian Bequette to Mack Starks, Clare Burson...wow. It's called Candy Heart, and explores desire, fear, sexuality....

What record do you wish you'd made?

How can I narrow that to one? How 'bout The Joshua Tree by U2 for songs and spirit, Car Wheels on Gravel Road by Lucinda for guts and grit, and Wrecking Ball by Emmylou Harris for heavenly production.

If you could be someone else for 24 hours, who would you be?

No one. I'm into the love/hate wacked-ness of being me.

What's your opinion on the Nashville music scene?

Again with the love and hate. Love the level of talent here, and having to play for that, and record within that; it made me grow lots. On the other hand, nothin' worse than playing for a roomful of 10 musicians, or playing a new collection of great tunes for an industry suit who has absolutely no ear, and cares only about his bottom line and keeping things safe.

Who are your favorite Nashville musicians/artists?

Mack Starks, Matthew Ryan, Kevin Gordon, Cole Slivka. But this is tough, cuz the list could go on. Different people for different reasons. The talent here is incredible. Makes me weep.

Who is someone you think is incredibly talented and everyone should know about, producer, musician or otherwise?

Producer: Neilson Hubbard, and Brian Brown, who produced my latest. Musician—oh geez, that's tough. I was struck by Jodi Haynes, who sang some backups on my latest work; a very natural and humble talent, Brian Bequette is a player who inspires me with his sheer feel.

What is your proudest moment in music?

Driving around listening to my new record. But really, when I can get through a day of booking myself. I love the artistic end so much that I know that other shit has to get done.

When and where will you be next?

I'll be at the 5 Spot Friday the 16th with some other great talent, Joe Rathbone from Atlanta, and Nashville's own the Coal Men. After that I'll be opening for Last Train Home at the Radio on the 31st. And lots of out-of-towners too. Please check my web site, www.ameliawhite.com.

—Marie Yarbrough


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