Lucky 13 with Lucy Woodward

Lucy Woodward has a new album, Til They Bang on the Door and will be promoting it with a show Friday, Feb 24th at The Basement in Nashville.

“So, about that album title….”

“It’s the ‘neighbors telling you to turn down the music’ moment. It’s the magical hour,” explains Lucy Woodward. “It’s that moment when anything can go right or wrong.”

A perfect summation for Til They Bang on the Door, a slinky, brassy and decidedly sexy record that marks a bold, new direction for the singer.

The unfolding romantic twists and turns Woodward embraces on Bang is matched by the dramatic fits in her music: opening with the Shirley Bassey-style “Ladykiller,” the album segues into upbeat pop (first single “Kiss Me Mister Histrionics”) and one guaranteed live singalong “Be My Husband” (recorded with the ever-soulful Everett Bradley) before ending—like the moment after a big storm settles—with the beautiful piano ballad “Free Spirit.”

You may recognize a few tracks: Ruth Brown’s “I Don’t Know” has been part of Woodward’s live arsenal for years, as well as a new take on “Too Hot to Last,” featuring a trombone choir as a backdrop for the piece. Originally the song was performed by Woodward with Snarky Puppy on their 2013 Grammy-winning Family Dinner (Volume 1) album.

Bang is Woodward’s first release on GroundUP Music, the breakthrough indie label started by Michael League (a co-producer on Bang). “Being on GroundUP is no comparison to anything else I’ve ever done,” she says. “There’s no A&R person saying “Do this or do that.” We all just want each other to be happy. We all have this idea that as long as the vibe is great, and with the right dynamic, anything is possible.”

Woodward plans to hit the road soon, performing for one of the most diverse fan bases in modern music. “I can see an audience growing with me,” she says. “When I play live, there are fans from 10 or 15 years ago bringing their kids. But now, I’ve been exposed a bit more to the jazz world and from working with Rod Stewart and they are all incredibly supportive.”

“I’ve never worked so hard in my life!” she admits, after juggling tours with Rod Stewart and running home to finish recording the album the past couple of years. “Four records in, and I can tell you, it’s been a rollercoaster. But what other choice do I have? You have to love, love, love what you do so much. And I do. It’s kinda cool that I still surprise myself.”

Not leaving her with time for a lot of those, well, “magical hours.”

Lucy took a moment to do Nashville Music Guide’s Lucky 13 … 

What was the first song you ever performed?

Aside from school musicals, the first song I ever performed was “When You Wish Upon A Star” with the high school jazz band. I knew that was IT for me.

Did you come from a musical background?

My mom was an opera singer, musicologist, bellydancer and school teacher and my dad is a composer/conductor. So, all we did was music, create things, dance, read, make plays with costumes in the backyard.

What are your musical influences?

As a kid, I listened to a lot of classical music with a little Beatles throw in there. When I started really singing and “shedding”, I listened to a lot of Ella Fitzgerald for her vocal agility and Etta James because I connected to her alto tone. When I got into songwriting, it was Sheryl Crow all the time. Then Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder and everything in between. I go through stages of being obsessed with artists or albums. I think most musicians do.

What personal advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue this career?

Make sure you do music because you love making music not because you want to be famous. Hone your skill and craft and collaborate. Listen and learn from people.

If you had to do it all over again, would you still choose this career? Would you do anything differently?

I can’t picture doing anything else. But wouldn’t opening a bakery be so amazing?!?!? Yes, I would do that. Have a lot of children and run a bakery. I’d play cool jazz at the bakery all the time. “Lucy’s Jazz Bakery” has a nice ring to it.

What would be your advice to artists that are new to the touring circuit?

Share hotel rooms to save money as long as you can! Spend your money wisely and don’t waste it all on booze and food. Also, talk to people after the shows. People connect to you even when you think they don’t so go say hi at the merch table. Sometimes it feels silly but sometimes people really want to tell you how they connected to your song or your voice.

How would you describe your music to someone that has never heard you before?

Someone recently called me blues/noir/pop. Or bluesy/neo-torch.

As a child growing up, music surrounds us; What type of music did you hear the most back then? How does it differ from what you listen to now?

Loads of classical music because my parents were musicians. I didn’t go the opera singing route but I still cry when I hear certain arias like I am 8 years old. I have a super deep appreciation for string and brass arrangements which are all over my latest album “Til They Bang On The Door.”

What do you feel distinguishes “an artist” from just a musician?

I think musicians are artists. Everyone has something to say. It’s just a matter of how they see themselves.

If you had the opportunity to change something about the music industry what would it be?

No more downloading free music. Songwriters cannot sustain that way. That has to change.

How do you like to enjoy your relaxation time away from the music?

Book, beach, no music.

What are your up-to-date performance plans? New Releases? Tours ? News?

I just released my 4th solo record “Til They Bang On The Door” on GroundUP/Verve/Universal. I am touring and opening for Snarky Puppy in April in Europe.

Do you currently have an agent, endorsement, record label, sponsor, etc?

I am on GroundUP/Verve/Universal. That is Snarky Puppy bandleader Michael League’s label.

Final words with Lucy Woodward … 

Without music, I would be … a mess.

Music is … my guiding light, my DNA, my blood.

My music makes me feel … a million things. I do it because I have to.

I write the songs because … I have stuff that needs to come out. I don’t know what I would do with those feelings and rhyming words in my head if I didn’t have an outlet.

Support music because … it is the universal language and it needs support to survive.

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