For the past two years, singer/songwriter Amy Andrews has quickly become one of the busiest members of Atlanta’s acoustic community—as well as one of its most talented and gracious. Possessing a happy marriage of folk, country, and blues, the self-proclaimed “tree hugger” came to Decatur via her native Baltimore and has had a voracious appetite for any and all gigs, from a low-key, Sunday afternoon coffeehouse benefit for an animal shelter to this Friday’s Red Clay Theater performance. Last year, she also completed a national tour of feminist bookstores, which have become, much like indie record stores, a sadly disappearing entity on the modern retail landscape. Atlanta Music Guide recently caught up with Ms. Andrews to find out where she’s been, where she’s going, and why she loves Bette Midler so much.
Can you recall the first song you ever wrote?
I certainly can, especially because it was not too long ago. I’ve always written in journals, I’ve always written prose, but never a song, not until about four years ago. From what I can recall, it was pretty terrible. No recordings exist. Thank goodness.
When did you know you wanted music to be more than just a hobby?
I’ve been performing for as long as I can remember, and I’ve wanted to be a performer from the moment I heard Bette Midler sing “Wind Beneath My Wings.” I was three years old and in a car seat and learned that performing could be a career.
Do you have any specific short-term or long-term goals for your musical journey?
There are certainly festivals and rooms I want to play, and artists I would love to collaborate with, et al. I suppose I could sum this up by saying that I would love to just be able to be a full-time performer.
Is this your first time playing the Red Clay Theater?
I’ve played Red Clay Theater a few times—first opening for Joseph Arthur last summer— and I will be back in early June for RCT’s second biannual Shootout. I am an enormous fan of Eddie Owen, who has shown me such kindness and support in the short time I’ve been here in Georgia. Eddie is a legend among songwriters, and for good reason—he values artists, and it is a great and rare thing, I would imagine, to find such a genuine ally in the music industry.
What was the first concert you ever saw?
For folks who know me, this answer is going to come as a shocker (read: this is a completely unsurprising answer), but the first concert I ever saw was Bette Midler. I was six years old, and I just wanted to be her. My mother surprised me with tickets to the concert after returning from a camping trip with my Girl Scouts troupe.
If you could share the stage with anyone alive, who would it be (feel free to name more than one person or band)?
I would love to play/tour/harmonize/shake hands with Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, Patty Griffin, Lucinda Williams, Gretchen Peters, Rose Cousins, Anais Mitchell…
Is there a “dream venue” you’d like to play, either here or in some other city?
The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Absolutely. Each time I go in that beautiful space, it’s all I can do to keep myself from belting some old country tunes just to hear the acoustics and the warmth off of all of that beautiful old wood in that grand room.
I thought your tour of feminist bookstores last year was such a cool thing to do. What was the most surprising thing you learned on that tour?
Thank you! It was a wonderful experience, for sure. I think the outpouring of support that I received was, perhaps not surprising, but, absolutely heartwarming and wonderful. I met a lot of people who had no idea that so few bookstores and community centers of this kind are still in existence, and that news created a lot of discourse.
Any plans to do something similar to that tour again?
As a graduate of a woman’s/women’s college (Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, now Randolph College), I would love to do a tour of women’s colleges! Like feminist bookstores, there are far fewer women’s colleges in existence today than there were even a few years ago. Randolph College became co-ed in 2007, and Toronto Women’s Bookstore closed its doors in the midst of my tour. I would love to visit these spaces, speak with those who ardently and enthusiastically support these institutions, and perform for audiences that share the values of an institution that, above all else, values the education of young women.
Would you rather be known as a singer, a songwriter, or an overall entertainer?
I suppose an overall entertainer. I sing, I write, I perform, I tell stories and talk to folks between songs. Could I specify that I would like to be considered a vaudevillian?
Though you’re from Baltimore originally, do you think of Atlanta as your home now? Do you see yourself moving somewhere else in the foreseeable future?
I foresee a lot of movement in my future, but I can tell you with absolute certainty: Baltimore will always be home.
Amy Andrews plays the Red Clay Theater in Duluth, Friday, March 29, at 8 p.m. with Kyshona Armstrong, the Skipperdees, and Dayna Kurtz.