Music is shifting in so many traditions, all of the way from songwriting to how it is it is produced. I know several songwriters in the Nashville area who are good people and refuse to conform to the “song factory” and take the soul out of the music. My dear friend and legendary songwriter Dennis Knutson (penned songs for Buck Owens, George Jones and many more) said to me once, “It used to be about quality instead of quantity and I refuse to make a song just for sake of making a song. They have plenty of songs on the shelves in Nashville for that and that’s where they will stay.”
Kara Clark is one of the “quality” examples of Nashville these days. She is hell-bent on not conforming her music, looks or actions. Labeling her is tricky, so I say just listen to her music.
Her writing is a throwback to some of the darker songs by Country female artists who wrote for women. Such songs as Loretta Lynn’s “The Pill” and “Rated X” or Tammy Wynette’s “D.I.V.O.R.C.E” come to mind. Kara hides absolutely nothing on her new album Southern Hospitality, an album that is just as much Rock as it is Country. Songs such as “Whiskey and Cigarettes,” “The Devil Don’t Cry” and “I’m Not Country,” lyrically seem like they came from a page out of the Mr. Hiram King (Hank) Williams catalog. She exposes the atrocious reality of troubled times and injustice, the darker side of music city USA, all of the while invoking woman empowerment. If Miranda Lambert used “Kerosene,” then Kara Clark has used diesel fuel and has set Nashville ablaze with Southern Hospitality.
When asked about her journey in music so far, Kara is very resolute in her determination to make music her own way….
“I was born and raised in West Virgina, never sang, played an instrument…nothing. I went to medic school, got married, and had children. That is what you do. I became a flight medic and literally one day bought a guitar and taught myself. I started writing and singing and my entire family and friends sort of thought I was crazy, maybe I was. I had a veteran musician in Nashville who wanted to hear me to give me an honest opinion so I sent her a cassette of cover tunes. She said, “Go.”
My marriage was on the last leg so we moved here. Within a year, I was a single mom with no job or money so I went back to being a medic here in Nashville and started writing again, in between being a mom. I got caught up on Broadway for about 3 months. That is how long it took me to realize I don’t want to play in cover bands on Broadway.
I went to world renowned vocal coach Renee Grant Williams. I only went for advice, I am not trained and really don’t want to be. She told me “you will stand out, you have something people beg to be taught, Emotion.” I couldn’t afford to go back and quite frankly, that is all I needed to hear.
After joining a summer rock cover band, the keyboard player David Walker advised me to quit and do my own music so I did. We did a four song EP together that included “Sinnin”. That got the buzz going. I made a full length record after that and the support started pouring in. Emails from women and men pushing me to keep on because Nashville needs real music.
Even with that record, I think I still tried to kind of be commercial even though this town has never viewed me as such. I got discouraged and decided to just be a writer. Last February, I woke up and literally said “fuck it” to myself. I will do my own thing, Nashville will never “get” me so I am going full blown Kara. When I did that, the fans came. I went from #114 on Reverbnation to #6 in four weeks.
When I stopped caring about a perfect look, censorship, political correctness, people swamped me with support. My backer said “one more shot Kara, if you want it”…I said Yes. She doesn’t care at all about trying to change me, for the first time in ten years here in Nashville. She put me in the studio with Mark Lambert (Leon Russell/Ronnie Milsap/Elton John), she let me produce it, let me choose the songs…total control.
Southern Hospitality is the best record I have made. I think country music is making a lame attempt at forcing new “outlaw” artists in our faces. Contrived music is not believable to me. You lived it or you didn’t. You don’t create an artist, period. I have had heartache, cheating, drinking, jail time, fights, divorce, homelessness. Nothing about me or my music was created for record sales. I am a storyteller and I am not afraid to tell real stories. Nashville won’t ever get me and the day I realized that was the best day of my music career.”
Kara Clark is just what Nashville needs – a good hasty kick in the back pockets! The town should take note of the one of the ladies that Hank Williams Jr. could have sung about in his song “Outlaw Women.” I anticipate that this dark haired beauty storyteller will be around for a long time, making straightforward music that we can all relate to from our Blue Collared lives. People are fatigued from being force fed the Blake Shelton/Taylor Swift bubblegum coated so-called music. We as a modern society are starving and unemployed, health care is a joke, the economy is shot and everything is in turmoil. We aren’t all living on the beach singing songs about “Red Solo Cups.” Instead, we are 100% pure Everlear – chased down with a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer purchased by the weekly Unemployment check. Thank you Kara Clark for providing a soundtrack to the lives of the Blue Collar folks who have a high regard for what you do and and what you stand for.
“She’s got a future as Bright as a Full Moon, on a Dark Night.”
– former Danzig/Samhain member Eerie Von (husband of Kara Clark)
Go get some real Southern Hospitality. http://
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Jason Wallace Robinson hails from Spartanburg, South Carolina. He’s a writer, storyteller, philosopher, single father raising two children, music lover, dreamer, joker. He writes to speak for the Common Man. He enjoys football and driving around in his ’96 Chevy Lumina adorned with an American Flag and decorative bird offerings.
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