We here at The Music Room have established a fascination with the Muscle Shoals sound. That is why we are so excited to share with you an artist who has deep roots in Muscle Shoals. Her name is Amy Black. She grew up in Missouri and Alabama and at 15, moved to Massachusetts. Amy’s dad was a minister and the family moved around a lot when she was a kid, but one constant was her two sets of grandparents who lived in the same two houses in Alabama’s Muscle Shoals area throughout her childhood. ”Whenever I was there, I felt the true comfort of home.”
Amy grew up singing hymns from the pews in church, but it wasn’t until her family moved to Alabama from Missouri, that she got her first dose of real southern gospel. “The church we attended had an acapella group that was predominantly black. I got a copy of their cassette, and listened to it over and over.” She began to imitate the vocals of the woman who sang lead on “Near the Cross.” “That was when I learned the difference between singing hymns and singing gospel. Definitely not the same!”
Amy continued to sing throughout high school, and in college sang with a few bands and at church, but never considered singing a possible career. And while she’d written a few songs, didn’t think of herself as a songwriter.
As a young adult, Amy was influenced by many artists including Mary Chapin Carpenter, Patty Loveless, Aretha Franklin, and rocker Pat Benatar, but it was Bonnie Raitt who made the greatest impression. “It wasn’t until I heard Bonnie for the first time that I felt like I’d heard the music that I’d been waiting for. I was captivated the night I heard her sing ‘Thing Called Love’ live at the Grammys, and immediately went out and bought the album ‘Nick of Time.’ From that point forward, she was my number one influence.”
After graduating from college in Boston, Amy went on to work for non-profits, then worked in the corporate world as a marketer for more than a decade. She got married, bought a house in the burbs, and was content singing at weddings and occasionally at church. But one night, sitting at her kitchen table at her home in suburban Boston, “I had this thought that came out of nowhere, that I’d never really done anything of consequence with my voice. I’d never tried. And if I was going to, now was the time.”
Amy Black’s been playing, touring and writing ever since, and this year, with the release of “This Is Home,” is fully committing herself to a career in music. “I’ve stepped away from corporate life because doing music feels like the most natural thing. I’m in my element when I’m singing on stage, like it’s exactly where I’m meant to be. And with ‘This Is Home’ I feel that I’ve truly found my voice. What’s coming out of me is soulful and it’s pulling from a deeper place. I see that there’s some maturity that’s come as I have more years under my belt. I’d like to believe that I’m like a fine wine that gets better — well, you know the rest!”
Amy Black w/ Kelly Thomas
The Southgate House Lounge – 9:30pm – Free show!!!