Make your own opportunities. The pandemic really pressed us to get creative on ways to keep the music alive as a band and find new ways to reach our fans. We live streamed shows, made cover song videos, and put the focus on creating new material.
As a part of our series about Nashville’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Liz Bohannon.
Bohannon’s musical path has been a yellow brick road of extraordinary opportunities, influential mentors, and self-growth that has taken her worldwide and back to her hometown Nashville, TN. She graduated with honors from Indiana University, and toured for years, and then toured some more. Liz rolls her eyes about having performed for the President of Trikala, Greece. She started learning the craft of songwriting early on in elementary school during after school mentor sessions with Hall of Fame songwriter, Layng Martine. After graduating, Liz moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in Hollywood. While out in LA, she met producer Jack Joseph Puig at Ocean Way Studios, whom she impressed enough to lead to her first-ever writing session with Jeff Trott (prominent co-writer of Sheryl Crow fame). Bohannon has written dozens of songs with many significant writers and cut her first EP with Grammy award winner Daniel Tashian. She has had multiple sync placements and recently had been a regular performer on the “third Sunday of every month” at Nashville’s Brown’s Diner. Liz is currently gearing up to release an EP this Spring, coming at you April 23.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Thank you for having me! I grew up in Nashville, TN and have been involved in music for as long as I can remember.
My first memory performing dates back to singing in a talent show when I was just 3 1/2 years old.
I sang a Woody Guthrie song and still remember the rush I felt from the applause.
At age 10, I landed my first gig in the music industry as a performer with The Gaylord Ambassador All Stars. We had 4 shows a day, 3 days a week at the Opryland Hotel and Opry Mills Mall. I loved it!
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I studied Music and Performance Arts in college and moved to Los Angeles after graduating to try my hand at acting. I always enjoyed writing songs and while in LA I had one of my first songwriting co-writes. From that moment on my focus was singing and songwriting. It was only natural to move back home to “Music City”.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I began volunteering for Musicians On Call, a non-profit organization here in 2018.
Singing songs bedside for patients gave me a different perspective on how music connects and lifts us.
Being able to brighten someone’s day with song was the most rewarding take away for me and reminded me why I do it.
Through my involvement with Musicians On Call, I was asked to play at Bonnaroo as a volunteer representative. My first time playing a big time festival for such a great cause was a week I’ll never forget!
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?
Yes! When I was little I went to this summer camp in Tennessee. One of the camp activities was playing the accordion.
We were to learn how to play the instrument over the course of weeks and then put on a recital for the entire camp + our families at the end of the summer..
I remember skipping class because I wanted to play with the animals but still wanted to be a part of the big performance, so I told the counselors I already knew how to play accordion and they let me on stage.
As you can imagine, it turned out to be much harder than it looked and I couldn’t fake my way at all.
I was so embarrassed for “big talking” — I never wanted to be under prepared in a situation like that again.
Whenever I think about cutting corners now, all I have to do is flash back to that scarring experience and remind myself the dangers of “winging it” during a performance.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m most excited about my latest single Let Me Go — just released on March 26!
Nashville-based producer, Louis Johnson (The Saint Johns) and I wrote this one together.
I am so proud of it and grateful to all who helped get it to this final sound!
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Yes, everyone has their own unique story and I am a big believer in the power of that story-telling; whether through film, dance, music, painting or any art form.
Personal expression can shed light where there might be darkness.
It awakens and inspires. It connects us on a deeper level.
When you hear a song or see a painting that speaks to you, it can make you feel less alone. It’s like hey, there are people who understand me.
It is just as important for us to use our voice to express ourselves as it is for us to listen and honor what each has to say.
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. Believe that if you keep looking up and moving forward you will continue to grow. Make growth the goal, and see each experience as building on the next.
When I was younger I believed that if I could only land a certain opportunity, I’d be able to rest on that victory. I soon discovered that the excitement of success eventually wears off and you never really “plateau” or “get there”, you just keep raising the bar and growing from each experience.
2. Make your own opportunities. The pandemic really pressed us to get creative on ways to keep the music alive as a band and find new ways to reach our fans. We live streamed shows, made cover song videos, and put the focus on creating new material.
3. Seek out places to play, get a booking agent or book your own gigs wherever will take you! I’ve played at the coolest little hole in the wall in town for the last several years. Having a regular standing gig has — more than anything, helped hone my performance chops and the ability to play with /communicate music to players from all different musical backgrounds.
Planning, rehearsing, and coming up with fresh new set lists each time has not only been a blast, but it’s been a skill set that I use for every live show opportunity.
4. Make deadlines ( it’s the only way!)
5. Enjoy the ride — try to not fixate on the bumps in the road.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Have lots of irons in the fire.
There are so many facets that make up the creative life as a songwriter and there are always things to be working on.
Get involved in your community, seek out fellow musicians/writers, support their causes; try and find ways to make your own opportunities when you find yourself in a “dry spell”.
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. 🙂
Borrowing one from the Beatles here : “Togetherness!”
We are so much stronger together.
Making a greater effort to build bridges towards each other and building one other up goes a long long way.
We are more connected than we give credit, and so much of life is about relationships.
Be the rising tide that lifts all boats!
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?
So many ! My family — my Dad in particular has been one, if not the greatest encourager of my passion for music since early on.
He’d help find ways to get me on stage singing every chance I could get.
I have so many memories getting up on stage singing with house bands at parties, restaurants,..you name it. There was never a dull moment when music was around!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Happiness is like a butterfly, the more you chase it, the more it will elude, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.” Henry David Thoreau
I love this quote! It reminds me to try to only focus on things within my control and let events/situations unfold how they will; try to not get attached to any outcome, because, the best things in life — i.e love, success, and happiness aren’t forced, they happen.
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. 🙂
Jeff Lynne because I am a super-fan, his music inspires me so much!
How can our readers follow you online?
Instagram @lizbohannonofficial, Facebook Liz Bohannon, Youtube …
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!