Credit: Alex Berger
Mary Bragg grew up surrounded by music at her home in Georgia. Her father is a musician and choir director at her hometown church, so she and her family spent Sunday mornings singing together. While she credits church for her musical education, she also has vivid memories singing along to the radio and trying to harmonize Alabama songs as a youngster. It wasn’t until her first trip to Nashville following high school graduation that Mary was introduced to Americana music. A colleague at an internship handed her a Patty Griffin album and soon she delved into the works of other artists like Emmylou Harris, Townes Van Zandt and Lucinda Williams. After 10 years living in New York City and navigating the music scene there, Mary moved to Nashville and will release her latest project, Lucky Strike, on Friday, May 5. Her fourth full-length project, Lucky Strike, is her first album recorded in Music City.
“When I first came to Nashville, I just wanted to write great songs. I did continue playing shows and toured, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make a career as an artist work. I’d go to shows all the time and it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the amount of talent here. What I’ve learned from writing every day was that writing is just as fulfilling to me as playing shows and so I let that temporarily dictate how I directed my time. I continued writing every day, not thinking about touring as much, and really not thinking about making records. It was Jim [Reilley], my co-producer [who said], ‘Stop it. It doesn’t have to be this or that. You are great and you need to make this record.’”
The Big Apple
“As much as I loved living in New York City for so long, I did feel like an afterthought to the city, because really everything is an afterthought to the city. [The song] ‘Lucky Strike’ is how I feel about my career and my struggle because it’s about believing in something despite not being dealt the hand that you wanted to have been dealt. Somehow you’re still believing that it is possible, that it can happen, that you can find some semblance of success as you go along. It’s not that you’re suddenly successful, it’s that your definition of success is changing. I feel like my current measure of success is unrelated to what the outward impression of success appears like.”
“In pinpointing sadness, which can often feel isolating, we’re telling that listener out there, ‘Hey, you’re not alone. You’re not the only person who’s felt invisible in a sea of 8 million people in New York City. You’re not the only person who’s lost a parent.’ That’s the beauty of music—that people can feel comforted by hearing someone else’s pain, which might be much like their own. Every now and then, somebody’s listening close enough where they’re like, ‘Oh, man. That really got me just then,’ and that’s the moment that I’m always looking for.”
For more of my interview with Mary Bragg, visit Nash Country Daily.