Kerri Lowe Reaches Goal With Kickstarter Campaign For New Album
Lowe discusses her decision to return to her North Carolina roots after years spent in New York in this interview
The voice of youth is not necessarily naïve; in the case of singer/songwriter Kerri Lowe, it's quite the contrary. On her debut EP, "Move Free," Lowe writes autobiographical confessions with the depth of experience; her wounded delivery echoes the plaintive caress of Patsy Cline. Finding the crossroads between folk and country, Lowe and her acoustic guitar unreel one compelling narrative after another, perhaps none more startling than "Please Don't Take Me to Kentucky."
It's the track that every music critic has thrown the spotlight on and for good reason: Lowe relates the story of how she discovered her absent father was actually in jail. Lowe discusses that song and her decision to return to her North Carolina roots after years spent in New York in this interview.
Q: You've recently began a Kickstarter campaign to record a full-length album in your native North Carolina. Why did you decide to complete it there?
[Kerri Lowe] It was a mix of emotional and practical reasons that came down to starting a new chapter. Moving was a clear way to define the point between being an amateur and becoming a full-time professional artist. I needed to quit the safety net of my job to force myself to be brave. I learned practically everything I know about music in the few years I lived in New York. I made a lot of mistakes, and I was growing and figuring things out. I needed to separate the scared, apologetic me who didn't know what she was doing and come to a new place with a more grounded energy. I'm still learning all the time, but songwriting and performing are no longer something I just fell into - they're deliberate practices for me. They're the way I serve the world best. They say you can't go home again, and it's true. I don't feel like I'm returning, I feel like I'm beginning.
Q: You lived in New York for three and a half years. What was that experience like? Are you moving back to North Carolina for good?
[Kerri Lowe] New York, especially Brooklyn, was wonderful for me. I was alone and had to make decisions for myself and direct my life. I've lived in one of the historically most dangerous neighborhoods in Brooklyn. I found several music communities that took me in and helped me grow. New York is difficult, for sure, but I'm in love with it. Still, I knew I couldn't stay. People get stuck in New York because they can't imagine life anywhere else and I understand that feeling. I could've stayed there and had a good life - no doubt. But I wanted something else, something more. I'm too restless to settle down somewhere right now. I want to share my music with communities that need it. That don't know they need it. I have no idea if I'll stay in North Carolina, but Carrboro has a good music scene, and I certainly don't mind taking in the warmth of a small town for awhile.
Q: Creatively, how do you feel you have grown from your "Move Free" EP to your upcoming record? Do you have a title for it yet?
[Kerri Lowe] For one, I've started considering myself more of a musician. In the past, the chords were just something to float my lyrics over - a vehicle for my stories. The story still comes first, but I've acquired the skills (with the help of Michael Daves) to use the guitar as expression too. My title keeps changing, but I'm pretty set on "The Truth." It's one of my very early songs when I realized that everything I had come to New York for (acting school) was not what I wanted. It starts "The trouble with my truth is that it changes all the time." It's a real fun song that a lot of people identify with. The journey of finding your truth.
Q: Are all the songs on "Move Free" autobiographical? I get the sense that the lyrics are extremely personal.
[Kerri Lowe] They are. It's funny, though - the more personal something is, the more universal. If people sense that something is honest, they can use the song for themselves. Good songs are not just what they are, they're what each listener needs them to be.
Q: If you don't mind, what is the real story behind "Please Don't Take Me to Kentucky"? Was your father in jail? It's quite a powerful track.
[Kerri Lowe] I'm not quite clear on the real story myself, but yes, all the facts of it are true. That song amazed me when I wrote it; it just fell together perfectly. The turn it takes at the end, when the person I'm speaking to is revealed...everything about it I don't feel like I made happen. It's not even clear in my journal when I wrote it; it's one of the few songs that I really don't recall how or where it came to me, but I'm glad it did.
Q: You're very young but your music seems heavily inspired by classic country, especially that of Patsy Cline. How were you exposed to that vintage sound?
[Kerri Lowe] It was sort of the other way around. I was not into country music at all. I just bought a guitar and wrote a song sort of by accident one day. A few songs in I realized that I was writing country songs, and it blew my mind. It scared me because I had always been very against identifying with the south. I didn't want to inherit the judgments that southerners are stupid or racist, so I separated myself from it. I started writing these songs and then investigated Patsy Cline and Hank Williams and Bill Monroe. I look at the south in a totally different way now - and listening to old country is a big part of that.
Q: At what age did you begin writing songs?
[Kerri Lowe] I started writing parody lyrics to existing songs when I was 11. Just silly things to entertain me and my friends. I didn't write a song that was really mine until I was 18, just a couple months after moving to New York for acting school.
Q: What is currently happening with the Kickstarter campaign? Have you filled your goal yet?
[Kerri Lowe] I reached my goal yesterday! There's still some time left and the donations keep coming, which is amazing! It's a weird thing when you start selling yourself, but it becomes so much fun because it's just about communication and connecting with people. I've made some serious videos and some silly ones. I make up fun incentives. The better part is when people say that what I'm doing is inspiring them to change their lives and take risks. Once you take that leap it's wonderful to find all the people around that want lift you up even higher. I'm very lucky. I'm very optimistic. I'm working constantly - and I love it.
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