Monday, March 21, 2016

A That Nashville Sound Exclusive Interview with Artist Megan Conner

When most artists talk about blood, sweat and tears getting them to this point of their careers, they probably don’t mean it quite as literal as Megan Conner. With a career footprint both in music as a singer/songwriter and in fitness as an award-winning personal trainer in Nashville, Conner pours her heart out for others equally in both fields. And while the gentleman in me should point out that women glisten, they don’t sweat, any conversation with any of Conner’s workout disciples will tell you that they’ve never endured such a positive experience being pushed beyond what they previously thought possible. Students of hers complete in previously unthought-of marathons and many times, Conner is at their side encouraging, pushing and coaching them along the way. “I truly believe that the fitness business is the only business that is completely positive – there’s just nothing negative about it. It’s all about bettering yourself,” says Megan. “To see people changing themselves from the inside out and being a part of that is such a blessing.”

It’s this indomitable spirit that follows Conner into the music side of her career as well. As the music business will do with doors opening and then closing for nearly every aspiring songwriter, it has never kept Conner down. “I have been so lucky to be surrounded with such an amazing network of writers, musicians, performers and producers. I am continually blown away by the level of talent here in Nashville, and am so thankful to be working with such wonderful people.” She’s had publishing deals in Nashville, in New York and in Nashville yet again. Through that time, she’s landed songs with Rascal Flatts, The Swon Brothers, Chris Young, Christian artist Jonny Diaz and many indie and international artists as well. But it wasn’t until this past week that the North Carolinian-born and Texas-transplant was able to share a bit of herself on her on own project. Nearly a decade after first moving to Nashville to chase her dream, Conner’s Beautiful World shares her story and voice in a way she had never had the opportunity to do before.

Blood. Sweat. Tears. Probably even a few blisters in there to boot. They come from making a step after step moving forward to achieve a goal- in this case, both in music and personal training. For Conner, there’s little differentiation there. It’s about making a mark through making the world better. Getting someone healthy and moving them with music equally make the world a better place. “I want to create music that moves people. I want to make people laugh, cry, FEEL… Music is life put to melody, so I hope that through my music, people can see who I am, what I’ve been through, and hopefully through that – they will find a piece of themselves in one of my songs.” Megan has a personal philosophy on which she is building her life and her career. “I hope to continue to grow while touching the lives of others through my music. No matter if there are 5,000 people or 5 people in the room that I’m performing in – if I connect with just one person, then I consider my job done.”
That Nashville Sound had an opportunity to talk with Conner about her personal story in Nashville and about her brand new album that dropped this month.

Ken Morton, Jr.- You were born in North Carolina, grew up in Texas, had theater in New York City and now transplanted in Nashville. Each one of those locations are distinctively different in their own musical influences. I wanted to know how much of each of them affect your songwriting and your music today. Are there pieces of each in it?

Megan Conner- I would say absolutely. I would say more Texas and New York. All four really, but if I ‘experiences I’ve had, I became more of a storyteller which is what attracted me to country music style like it did. But I also learned from being in New York and in Los Angeles for a time. Those scenes influenced my writing as well. It’s such a combination of everything.

KMJ- You were a finalist on Great American Country’s The Next GAC Star. Walk me through how that experience influences your initial immersion into Nashville?

MC- Oh, Lord! That show was interesting. They never did it again. (laughter) Regardless of how the show was, it was really cool. It taught me a lot about reality TV and whether or not I would ever want to go that route. But it was very cool to be a part of it and rub elbows with Desmond Child and Victoria Shaw at that time. I really had nothing on the radar at that point. I didn’t know who I was as an artist and had no idea about my voice. They had me singing Taylor Swift songs. I shouldn’t be singing Taylor Swift songs. But it was great and it taught me a lot about a bunch of different levels of the business. It really taught me about staying true to who you are because that was my kind of problem with some of those reality shows. They can take pieces of what happened and construe it on TV. You just really have to stand your ground and be who you are and hope for the best. It was cool but really scary. I was scared out of my mind. Live television! That was when all the reality shows were starting but overall, it was a good experience.

KMJ- Did it provide a foundation of relationships there in Nashville that you were able to build on?

MC- Not really. I do a lot of mentoring to younger writers and artists. Nashville is so organic. It goes back to doing the work. You have to go to the writer’s nights. You have to go and meet people. You have to go write with people. Nothing really came out of the show and experience. You can’t replace the organicness of networking in this town. You have to be in Nashville doing the thing. There’s no other replacement for that.

KMJ- Seven years later and a couple of publishing deals later, you have fans, friends and family fund your first full project of your own.

MC - Yea!
KMJ- Give me the importance of this title Beautiful World as a title for the project.

MC- It’s so funny because we have all of these songs and I felt we were missing a “life” song. We were more focused on the songs we already had recorded. I really felt like I needed to say something big because I’m a very positive person and am always trying to motivate the world. I was going through really old songs- really old songs- and I found this old song called “Beautiful World.” I showed it to (my producer) Pete and he agreed that it had to be on there.  Before he did anything on the song, he knew it would be the first track on the album. It was then I knew I wanted it to be called that as the album title. I didn’t want to call it Megan Conner. And I didn’t want to call it Demo Sessions. I felt like it encompassed what I think the world is. It is a beautiful place. There’s so many beautiful people. I hope I don’t have a skewed version of it. (laughter) But that’s how I live. I live every single day trying to make it the best as it can be. That’s kind of how it was chosen. It was the beauty of that song. It’s just me.

KMJ- Does that theme carry through or do any other themes carry throughout the album?

MC- No. There’s a lot of cheating songs. There’s a lot of break-up songs. It’s funny because I want people to know this is a compilation of songs that I have written and that I’m proud of rather than me as an artist. There’s a difference. It’s definitely a list of accomplished songs. There are a few that are just near and dear to my heart, but there’s no real theme all the way through… besides break-up songs. It’s country music, you know? (laughter)

KMJ- Those are country music themes at their best. That’s your theme that carries through it. I know there are some cuts that have been cut by some big artists and co-writes with some important names there in town. What are some important cuts and names to know with someone going in and listening to the project?

MC- My favorite one right now- Pete did such a great job with it- is the song, “Aftermath.”  I choose that one. Rascal Flatts recorded that one and it’s so cool. It’s another break-up song. I love that song. It’s one of my favorites. Lyrically and melodically, it’s really interesting. I’m sure I’ll change it around with different favorites as we go along, but that’s the one I’m most-excited about right now. I made a lyric video for it as well.

KMJ- Beside the obvious answer of your new publishing deal with Demolition Music, why was this important for you to do this project at this stage of your career?

MC- Right? Isn’t it weird? (laughter) It’s been a bucket list thing for a while. Because I also have a fitness business out of my house, it pushes me. I want to have a bigger place. I want to have a bigger presence. I want to play a bigger role in Nashville. I get to work with some amazing people and I think it was important to that so I could do this now. I could check this off before I would turn a focus on that. It won’t be a less focus on music but that’s where much of my income comes these days. I want to expand that in Nashville soon. I needed to do this album before I get too far along with that.  It was also time. I have Golf & Guitars, a show in Huntsville and the Songwriter’s Festival in Key Largo. It’s been ten years and now I have something to show for it. You can now go on i-Tunes and download stuff if you love what I do. I needed to put my voice out there for me.

KMJ- I have one last question and this one’s meant open-ended, what is country music to Megan Conner?

MC- Wow… that’s a big one! (laughter) I’ll be honest, I do not like to listen to the radio. It’s hard and I think a lot of writers and artists would say the same thing. It’s hard to listen to the radio. It’s definitely getting better. Country music isn’t something I have loved to listen to lately, but I love to write it. Country music is the reason why I’m attracting to writing it. It’s more about the story. It’s more about what you’re saying. It’s more about how people relate to it and each other. You won’t hear about Lady Gaga singing about how someone lost their mother. The reason this genre is so beautiful is that you can take real life and put it right into a song and make it beautiful. It’s very attractive to me. I love being a part of that storytelling. I like the country music that Chris Stapleton is doing that has meat to it.

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