…I think one of the things we are all lacking in this age of technology is a true sense of community. What if we all deleted social media and were forced to satisfy our craving for interaction with the people in our immediate community, like we as humans have done for millions of years? I think this would foster much more satisfying relationships, a greater understanding and respect for each other, and a deeper sense of belonging, purpose and camaraderie.
As a part of our series about Nashville’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Lera Lynn.
Lera Lynn is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and actress.
Born in Houston, Texas, Lynn was raised in Georgia. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Georgia.Before attending the university, she briefly attended Young Harris College in Young Harris, Georgia. Lynn’s first LP, Have You Met Lera Lynn, was released in 2011. In 2014, she released an EP entitled Lying in the Sun and also began creating music for the second season of the HBO crime drama series True Detective. Working with songwriter and music producer T Bone Burnett, the two collaborated with singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash at Burnett’s home in Los Angeles, California with two of the resulting tracks being included on Cash’s 2018 album She Remembers Everything. After approving the musical tracks, series creator Nic Pizzolatto cast Lynn as a recurring character who performs the songs in a dive bar frequented by the main characters.
Thank you so much for joining us in this series! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit of the ‘backstory’ of how you grew up?
I was born in Houston, TX to two young parents. We quickly moved to Shreveport, LA where we stayed for several years before finally landing in GA where I would spend the rest of my childhood, college years and beyond. Though I had a love for music from a young age and knew it would ultimately be my chosen path, I ended up attending the University of Georgia, earning a bachelor’s degree majoring in Anthropology. Music was always my priority, however. As soon as I finished college, I started releasing music and touring with my band. I slowly went from playing free shows and sleeping on floors and armchairs to opening for notable artists and sleeping in beds. In 2012 I relocated to Nashville, landed an important role in the writing of music for HBO’s True Detective and continued to release my own records independently and tour. As an independent artist, I now have my own label, Ruby Range Records and am celebrating the release of my 6th record, On My Own.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Music was always central to life growing up. If there wasn’t something blasting on the record player or the radio, someone was playing guitar or keys and singing. It always seemed to me that it was just what people do. I was a good singer from a young age with a good understanding of harmony. With just a little recognition and moral support, it was a no brainer.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
It would have to be acting in True Detective. Seeing the whole process of filmmaking and getting to see master actors work their magic on set was surreal!
Can you share with us an interesting story about living in Nashville?
I moved to Nashville after a visit that included a Time Jumpers show at 3rd and Lindsley. Obviously the musicianship was through the roof but what really struck me was how eager musicians and people in music business were to meet each other and find ways to work together or help each other out. The sense of community here is very strong and separates Nashville from other music scenes.
Can you share with us a few of the best parts of living in Nashville? We’d love to hear some specific examples or stories about that.
Nashville is a small town city. You’re pretty much guaranteed to see someone you know at the grocery store or cafe. The traffic is navigable if you know what you’re doing, the food is delicious, the rent is still doable. And any night of the week, you can hear someone much more skilled than yourself burning down some stage in the city.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
That would have to be taking the entire band to lunch at a questionable establishment before the start of a very long driving tour in a very crowded van. The lesson? Don’t do that!!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that? Before she retired, my previous manager, Sheri Sands, was such an incredible source of wisdom, ideas, patience and endurance. She really helped me build my career from almost nothing and respected my wishes to remain independent. She always supported my creative decisions and believed in my potential as a songwriter and recording artist. I will be forever grateful for her countless hours of work and thought. I am incredibly lucky to have worked with her and wouldn’t be where I am without her!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’ve just independently released my 6th album, On My Own, have a lot more music coming down the pipeline soon and some other unique and exciting projects that I can’t talk about yet!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. “Music you release is forever. Once it’s out there, it’s out there for good.” While I don’t necessarily regret any of my releases, I wonder if I would’ve made different choices had I really considered this fact…
2. “Never trust anyone in music business who says “Don’t worry, I’m going to take good care of you.”” I think this is pretty self-explanatory!
3. “Build into your plan twice the amount of time you think you need for record manufacturing!” This always takes longer than expected and is such a big source of stress and complication. It’s obviously easy situation to avoid but somehow, you always end up behind the 8-ball!
4. “Keep expenses as low and for as long as you can.” If you’re independent, it can take a long time touring to start making a profit and even longer until music full-time can be sustainable. It’s important to find a way to tour as inexpensively as possible in the beginning so that you can survive the shortfall and avoid going into debt. I took a full band on tour from day 1 and while I don’t regret any of those super fun experiences, I know that I would be in a better position if I’d rethought those decisions.
5. “Your on-stage fashion mistakes will live on the internet forever.” Enough said!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Only work behind music that truly speaks to you.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I think one of the things we are all lacking in this age of technology is a true sense of community. What if we all deleted social media and were forced to satisfy our craving for interaction with the people in our immediate community, like we as humans have done for millions of years? I think this would foster much more satisfying relationships, a greater understanding and respect for each other, and a deeper sense of belonging, purpose and camaraderie.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My dad would always tell me to “Go against the grain.” I think this really influenced how I’ve approached music. It’s now built into my personality to endlessly pursue a unique perspective/sound, no matter how difficult that may be!
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would love to sit and chat over coffee or mimosas with Joni Mitchell. She’s such an enigma and someone I have deeply admired my whole life!
How can our readers follow you online?
I’m pretty easy to find on all of the platforms if you just search for my name 🙂
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success! Thank YOU!