Amanda McCoy Talks Taking the Gig, Learning Music Early, and Tanya Tucker’s Voice In Her Ears

From left, Rob Daniels, Jake Clayton and Amanda McCoy opening for Tanya Tucker.

The number of female bassists in Nashville who actually playing full-time for a living can probably be counted on one hand, and Amanda McCoy is among them. Perhaps best known in town for her work with fiddle player Jake Clayton and guitarist Rob Daniels, McCoy has also toured and recorded with many others, including Sunny Sweeney, and is now playing and singing as a member of Tanya Tucker’s backup band.

After years of playing live and earning a music degree, McCoy knew that Nashville was probably where she needed to be. “I grew up always playing in bands,” McCoy said, “whether it was in bars with my two sisters or with kids I went to school with. Then I went to college, and actually played in my bass professor’s rock band. After playing all through college I needed to move somewhere where I could do it all the time.” McCoy also plays guitar when a gig calls for it, and writes her own material as well. “I originally learned to read music with the flute. Got my treble clef in early, like in fifth grade. The flute didn’t quite pan out. It definitely would’ve been an easier load-in.”

McCoy is today able to do pretty much whatever a gig or session calls for, whether it’s actually reading a fully-scored chart, using the Nashville numbers system, or doing it the old fashioned way, plugging in and going for it based on a demo or chord progression. “But how many times do I tell people I have a degree?  Zero,” she said. “In the end it’s really all about things like, Can you show up? Can you play? Can you read a chart?”

Working in a trio with Clayton and Daniels, McCoy has opened for Tucker several times, which led to her becoming a member of Tucker’s band, which Clayton is the leader of. “I started playing with Tanya at the end of September,” she said. “Their previous bass player stepped away and it was kind of a last minute situation. I was taking about a week off and was on my way back up home to Ohio, when I got the call from Jake. I said Absolutely, count me in, and flew back. I had to learn the set in about 36 hours.”

“We just started working in some (vocal) harmonies,” she said. “It was such a beautiful moment, the first time on stage during our first sound check to hear that iconic Tanya Tucker voice coming through my in-ears. And to be able to add a harmony part on top? How cool is that?”

McCoy prides herself on being a professional musician who (usually) doesn’t turn down a gig, which has resulted in her gaining a reputation as a dependable and experienced player who gets the jobs others may not be called for. For instance, she played in the house band at CMT’s Smashing Glass event last November, backing up such stars as Patti LaBelle, Clint Black and Chris Janson, and appeared with singer-songwriter Lola Kirke on CBS Saturday Morning in New York City.

McCoy generally believes in taking work where one can find it, especially for musicians who are new to Music City. “When I got to Nashville I just started playing,” she said. “The first band I auditioned for in Nashville was actually a prog band that was running an ad for a bass player. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 15 years, just been saying ‘yes’ to playing shows. My phone is still ringing and I’m just so thankful to be busy as a working musician.”

You can follow McCoy and her various projects, including her original songs and original visual artwork, at

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.