Charlie Worsham – Exclusive GIGsoup Interview

Nashville based singer songwriter Charlie Worsham has built up quite a following here since his recent C2C showcase. His candid lyrics, musical dexterity, talent and exuberance on stage have made him one of the most highly respected artists on the country scene. He has a collection of new songs, ‘Beginning of Things’ and is also here to support Lucie Silvas.

Welcome back. You are here to support Lucie Silvas, tell us how that came about?

Lucie and I are old friends. I’ve known her since she first started coming to Nashville to write. Everybody that met her was blown away by her talent from the get go. We became fast friends. I just got a text from her and it was yes please. Game on.

How’s this trip been so far?

I’ve been here about 3 weeks already. Before the tour started I got to spend a day recording at Abbey Road. That definitely was a highlight for me. I was very influenced by my parents taste and their love of music. I grew up not just on country music, but The Beatles and Stones. To get to spend a day recording at Abbey Road was surreal – just to have fun recording some acoustic versions of songs I’ve already put out. I’ll share them on Spotify. There is one new song, an instrumental version of a Beatles song I Iove called ‘In My Life.’ Hope to get to do it again.

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Albums are often a snapshot of an artist at a particular point in their life. What snapshot were you trying to capture with your new offering ‘Beginning of things’?

That’s exactly what records are, pictures of an artist at one point in time. I think the picture of me that we captured was my musical geography, reclaiming that, leaning into that and reclaiming confidence. I was getting burned out, touring a lot. This record is the story of me settling back in and falling in love with music again. I think it’s the beginning of me finding a better way to handle the business part of the music business.

The songs came from my commitment to fill a page a day in my notebook. I filled up four notebooks before we started this record. When it was time to make the actual recording, the big difference was that it was myself and three other musicians pretty much making the bones of the record. I added parts, and re-sang things, but it’s a much more live record. Making each song was magical, we didn’t have chord charts, didn’t use a click track, we just played each song until it started to sound right. Each song was an adventure and a mystery until it wasn’t.

Music has always been part of your life. You made your Opry debut at 12 years old. For those readers who are new fans, tell us a little more about your musical beginnings

I grew up in Mississippi, the state that gave America Elvis Presley, BB King, Tammy Wynette, Charley Pride, the list goes on. I grew up in a very rich place for music. My Dad is a retired banker, but the early memories I cherish are of him playing drums in a band at the weekend. That’s how I got hooked on music. The raw power of the sound.  I’ve never really done anything else. There has never been a time when it felt like it couldn’t be what I did. I’m lucky, it’s the only job I ever had since high school. I progressed from piano lessons, to learning banjo, playing bluegrass festivals, writing and singing in high school then studied music in Boston, at the Berklee College of Music. Straight after I moved to Nashville and haven’t looked back. It’s been 11 years.

You toured with Kenny Rogers, what did you learn as an artist from such a legend?

A million things – I could fill up your hard drive with lessons on being a performer from Kenny. He is such a gentlemen and consummate entertainer. A kind of entertainment that predates what I think we see in stadiums today. It doesn’t require acrobatics and pyrotechnics. It’s just this pure form of building a connection with the audience.

The other take away was from the show in Belfast. The promoter was saying that only a handful of performers came over from the States during the troubles. Kenny was one who did. That’s when it clicked, every night I was noticing the love that was being poured out from the audience. I realised that it was that way because he had spent a lifetime keeping that connection strong over here and dedicated himself to giving his fans what they wanted. That’s was the biggest lesson.

On a slightly different note, you quite famous on social media for ‘Cover Challenge’ (recording and playing all the instruments and vocals, posting it on line, alone, within 24 hours). It looked so much fun, which one was your favourite?  

They’re all different. For a while I was roommates with a drummer, he had a killer drum kit in the basement. For songs like ‘I Want Candy’ and, ‘What I like about you.’ I used all of his gear-that was fun. Later on, I used my buddy Eric’s studio, The Casino. I’d stay up all night recording there. That was where I really dialled in how to make them and learned how build the vision in my head in the sonic space. I probably had the most fun at The Casino because of all the great gear and I kinda knew what I was doing. They’ve all been fun, right from the very first one.

Which song that you covered do you wish you’d written?

I love ‘Next Girl’ by The Black Keys and ‘Radio Gaga’ by Queen.

Tell us about the ‘Follow Your Heart’ scholarship you instigated

Every time I go home, as my mom’s a teacher, I go to her school. That’s where I grew up, and hung out after school until she was ready to go home. I just got talking to the students. Their dreams had already got to the point where they seemed impossible. They were almost not willing to tell me it was just something simple, like to be an actress on Broadway.  I said ‘Yeah, that’s a big dream, but you gotta feel like you can do this’.  It was just too easy to do and too fun not to do it.

We’ve since added a music education programme. It’s not just a scholarship. We want the students, when they are ready to go on, to have that boost with the scholarship, but we also want to have the kids who are interested. Whether or not they end up doing this further down the line, it may be their sanctuary from a tough home situation or maybe what keeps them in school or safe from bullying. It gives them a sense of identity.  I had opportunities so I know just how valuable it can be. It’s really just been fun to see the kids flourish.

How do you like to begin the day?

On a good day when I’m home, it’s some meditation, reading and prayer. I fill my page and then take my dog to the dog park. I’ll replace the dog park with getting an amazing breakfast somewhere when I’m on the road.

How do you like to end the day?

Out here on tour, the best part is at the end of the night, when all is done, you’re with your friends, and you get some food and a pint. It’s just doing what I love with people I love, whatever that might be. Sometimes it’s being at home with family and laughing, really diving into a record I love or cuddling my dog.

Quick fire questions

Tacos or burritos? Tacos, Mas Tacos, if you’re in Nashville

Guitar or banjo – Guitar

Lyrics or melody? – Lyrics, they are the joy and pain!

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