Amy Black's Old-Fashioned Passion
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because trad is still rad.
By Leslie Nguyen-Okwu
Traditional country music isn’t dead, and not everyone is selling out to pop. Ask singer-songwriter Amy Black, who, at 42 years old, isn’t pining to be the next Taylor Swift.
“[Music] is a younger woman’s game,” said Black, who quit her 10-year career in corporate sales and marketing this year to pursue a full-time life of tours, mic checks and adoring fans. But age isn’t stopping this up-and-coming Americana musician, who has opened for some of the biggest names in folk, country music and rock and roll, including Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris and Chris Isaak.
Armed with a guitar and a passion for the old-fashioned, Black is bringing her version of sultry country blues — shaped by her Southern roots growing up in Alabama’s Muscle Shoals — to venues around the nation. The song “Whiskey and Wine” off of her album One Time features Black’s intensely soulful voice and songwriting skills, influenced by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Patty Loveless. “She slays you by being sly,” described one Boston Globe review.
Black got her start in music when she was 15 and living near Boston, where she moved after growing up in Alabama and Missouri. There, she sang at suburban weddings and church services. “I thought maybe I could just go be a jazz singer at the Marriott or something. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do,” said Black.
By her 30s she’d found her voice, and Black’s ambitions grew. She decided to try turning her longtime hobby into a full-blown career, and started by scouring Craigslist for a guitarist. She ended up hiring someone who had never played outside of his living room before. Black herself only picked up a guitar a few years ago. It all happened pretty fast, she said. She was working gigs as an amateur singer and songwriter for just six years before she went all in and quit her corporate job.
Black now boasts two full-length albums and a “Country Act of the Year” nomination from the New England Music Awards.
After years as a corporate drone, diving into music full time and performing for large crowds felt like the “most normal thing in the world,” she says. But she encountered her share of hiccups along the way — like a $181 speeding ticket and roach-infested Airbnb rooms — as she coordinated her bookings and sped herself to gigs around the country.
Fast-forward to the end of 2014, and Black now boasts two full-length albums of original music and a “Country Act of the Year” nomination from the New England Music Awards. Her biggest show to date was 300 people deep — though many of her concerts are only 60 people at most. She’s still getting her name out there.
But at least her life sitting at a desk and typing away at a screen is no more. And we don’t have to stumble on her at the Marriott to enjoy her smooth, storytelling voice.