When Sloan Wainwright opens her mouth to sing, the world stops and you’re alone in a space with a marvelous mellifluous sound. Her voice grabs you from the first note and you’re pulled in immediately. That’s how powerful a voice she possesses. Her voice is the instrument of the gods and goddesses of legend. That should get the point across. Listen to her!
To learn more about Sloan Wainwright, visit her website.
Check out this video of Sloan and see what we mean! Hard to miss the amazing Steve Murphy too! Fabulous guitar licks!
You are one of the musicians taking part in “Steady On: A Celebration of Lilith Fair at 20.” What were your thoughts about the original tour in 1997 and how do you view its legacy now?
I am so excited and looking forward to doing the “Steady On “ shows with my friends Sharon, Amy, Lara and Steve. We have already had a truckload of fun gathering up, revisiting and practicing the material together. I am a fan of and in awe of many of the Lilith Fair Artists — it is wonderful to get a chance to dive in and interpret a handful of those songs.
Let’s talk about your own musical legacy. I’m sure that you get lots of questions about your family and how musical so many of you are. Were you and Loudon raised to appreciate music and to make music when you were both young?
Our father, Loudon Wainwright (Junior) was a journalist and a lover of music. He wrote a few songs too. He and our mother Martha, loved to dance. There was plenty of music in our home. And, creativity was encouraged.
When I was 5 years old or so, I remember climbing into my big brother’s guitar case (he was 16) to take a nap and listen, while he practiced jug band tunes with his friends. I also remember when he wrote his first song. After he sang a song about a guy who worked at the boat yard in my grandmother’s town, my first thought was, “I can do that!” So I began writing songs. I was about 8.
Your. Voice. It’s a powerful instrument. As you began to sing out in public, did you realize that you could cultivate your voice and sculpt it into the perfect creation for all different kinds of songs. You’ve done it all — folk, pop, jazz, and blues — and you seem to be able to use just the right pitch and cadence for each song you sing. That’s a real talent. Is that a skill that is natural or do you have to craft each song for a while before you hit the perfect sound?
Yes. My voice is where my true musical discipline is.
I use the piano, the ukulele and the banjo to write songs but, I do not consider myself an accomplished instrumentalist.
I was called to sing from an early age and I’ve worked at it for a lot of years. Lots and lots of practice. And, many wonderful teachers and mentors. I like practicing. I have been a vocal coach for 23 years. I am also a performance coach and a songwriting coach. My years of music mentoring has truly helped me to grow into the artist I am today.
Tell us about your songwriting. Are you a disciplined writer or do you only write when inspiration strikes?
I consider myself a disciplined writer of songs and also, I know that I still have a long way to go (to grow) as a songwriter. I enjoy “practicing“ my writing as much as I can. “Inspiration is an idea that hits the prepared mind. “
I keep a journal. I do lots of free-writing around song ideas that I have. I make lists of words I like, title ideas, stuff that I hear folks say. I take notes on cool stuff that I read….
I write in all different ways. I write on my own. I write with others. – as far as really getting going on writing a song – the musical idea is usually first. From there, the music leads to where and what the song is about — I can then go back to all of my various notebooks and pads and pieces of paper that are filled with scribblings…
You’ve been with the amazing guitarist, Stephen Murphy, for quite a while. What is it about his style of playing and arranging that works for your music?
Steve and I have been working together for 26 years. Wow. He is my dear friend, a brilliant guitarist and a terrific collaborator. Steve’s rock n’ roll roots speak to my sensibilities. We both grew up listening to the same kind of music. He is also a human metronome. He has the capability to remember every tempo and every feel!
Have you ever worked in or considered musical theatre? You convey the emotion of each song you sing and I bet that you’d do well if the right part came along!
Yes. In mid -80’s and early 90’s I was involved with a few grassroots production companies in my area (Katonah, NY) that were committed to creating original work. It was an amazing and inspirational time. So much fabulous collaboration!
I was lucky enough to be able to create original music compositions for and perform with, The Barnspace Dance Company and The Peter Pucci Dancers. I love working with choreographers and dancers! I also wrote songs for and performed with Barnspace Productions, Axial Theater, and Performing Arts at Sage – which included dreaming up song material for children’s theater pieces and community theater productions.
I understand that you offer trips to Ireland — trips for music fans and those curious about Irish history and lore to travel with you to discover amazing parts of the Emerald Isle. How did you start doing that and is it as amazing as it sounds?
This is my first trip to Ireland. I am so excited. October can’t get here fast enough! Sue Riley- songwriter and friend extraordinaire, is co-leading the trip with me. Innishfree Tours is a wonderful off-the-beaten-track tour company that my friend and fellow singer-songwriter Johnsmith runs. For years, pals of mine, including Kate Campbell, David Roth, Tom Kimmel, Joe Crookston, Ronny Cox … (to name a few) have been leading these tours and encouraging me to do one…SO, here I go!