10 Questions with ... Margaret Durante
May 8, 2011
1. Congrats on releasing your current single, "Maybe Tonight." As a co-writer, tell us how the idea for the song came about.
I wrote the song with Blair Daly and Rachel Proctor and I had just started seeing someone. It was definitely that stage in a relationship where everything is very exciting because you don't know where it will go and you're learning new things about the other person every day. The day the three of us got together to write "Maybe Tonight" was a pretty magical one because we were all able to tap into those feelings we had all experienced or were experiencing in the early stages of what could be love. I would attribute the ease of the writing session to the fact that we were writing about such uplifting subject matter. The three of us exchanged stories about times where we had felt this way and in a few hours we had a song that we all loved. We wanted the song to have a flirtatious nature and not be totally sweet, so we made sure to write the song from a place of confidence and have me be the one chasing the guy.
2. I know you have been out on a pretty extensive radio tour! How has that been and do you have an idea of how many stations you have visited total?
I have been on a radio tour on and off since last July. I got to meet a lot of my radio friends when I was promoting my single "Mississippi's Crying" and headed back out to promote "Maybe Tonight" last February. I am not sure how many stations I have visited exactly, but I can count on one hand the number of states I have yet to visit, not including Hawaii and Alaska. But if you can talk to my label about sending me there, I wouldn't be mad about it. :)
3. When did you know you wanted to pursue a career as an artist?
I was sure that I wanted to be an artist at an early age. I was constantly singing whenever I had the chance, but I don't think I had convinced myself that I could make a career out of it until I started performing with my friends in the B Street Band, a Bruce Springsteen cover band that has been running for over 30 years. Don't worry though, I didn't cover any Bruce songs. I was introduced to them when I was 16 by my friend and business partner, Thomas Natelli when he asked me to perform with them at a fundraiser he was hosting. From that moment on, I played with the band whenever I got a chance, even if it meant driving up to Jersey with my parents four hours each way to play an opening set at one of their gigs. I would cover Bonnie Raitt, Melissa Etheridge, Sugarland, Shania Twain, Kim Richey and a bunch more in that vein. I think having the opportunity to sing music that I loved in front of an audience while being backed by a great band made me fall in love with performing. I started writing some original music and the B Street Band worked up the songs with me so I could try them out on an audience. After that first experience of sharing my music with the audience, I was hooked.
4. Since you have been touring since you were 16, I am sure you fine tuned your packing skills. What are your must haves on the road?
I hate to say this, but I have not. I do a little celebratory dance if the scale reads 49.9 pounds when I am checking baggage. I always bring my hair dryer with me because I have yet to find another hairdryer that works as well and as quickly. I also think my shoes put a dent in the overall weight of my suitcase. I don't pack too many, but I have some standard go-to boots that pack a punch in the weight department and there have been a few occasions where I've ambitiously thought I would wear a pair of shoes that I ended up never removing from the suitcase. My leather jacket almost always comes with me, regardless of season. And, needless to say, my acoustic guitar comes along in its heavy case.
5. Who are some of your musical influences and did you grow up with a lot of music in your household?
I remember my mom and dad listening to great music when I was younger. It was really in my household, and my family has always encouraged my singing and love of music. Some of the artists I was exposed to by my parents were Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bonnie Raitt, Tracy Chapman, Frank Sinatra, Annie Lennox and Michael Jackson. I loved Shania Twain and the Dixie Chicks and all types of music and but I really gravitated to and became inspired by some of these strong female singer-songwriter artists I listened to at a young age.
6. If you had the chance to do a duet with anyone, who would you pick and why?
It would have been an honor to duet with Frank Sinatra. He was such a legend and his voice had such character. Every song of his is unmistakably his song. He had such a unique yet classical sound that I would have loved to lend to any piece of music that I've made or am part of. How could you not sound good with Sinatra on the track with you?
7. James Stroud produced your EP, which was recently released. That's pretty good company to keep! How was it working with James and has he taught you anything you didn't know?
The EP was actually co-produced by James and Stephony Smith, and I've learned a lot from both of them. But James really has taught me a great deal since we started working together. He obviously has a ton of experience both as a producer and someone who has been on the other side as a player. He's an incredible drummer with numerous credits. I think it makes him appreciate exactly what it is that the artist must deliver in the studio. There will be times where I sing a line perfectly in a technical sense, but he will hit the talk-back button when I am in the vocal booth and just say "I don't believe it." When we first started working together, I will honestly say that it frustrated me at times. I had the notes right, the tone was good as far as I was concerned, so what was I doing wrong? After working with James, I have realized that if the intent isn't there, it's not going to compel the listener, in which case, why sing at all?
8. I have heard you are big on social media. Do you handle your own Facebook and Twitter posts and what do you enjoy about interacting with fans that way?
I do handle my own social media but I have people who help me develop ideas for reaching out to fans and graphic designers to make the sites more manageable and appealing. If that were left up to me, it wouldn't be a pretty sight. I want my relationship with the fans to be about more than just music. I think music is meant to establish a connection between people, so why wouldn't I want to know more about my listeners and share other parts of my life with them? I write from my own experiences and songs that I don't write I sing because I relate to them. The listeners become more invested in the songs if they understand where they're being sung from and I enjoy hearing how the songs have affected them as well.
9. Who are some of your favorite people to follow on Twitter and why?
I follow All Access! Brownie points? I like following Not Gary Busey, Kanye West and Katy Perry because they all say some pretty off the wall things. I follow some of my friends and I have fans who have always been really active on the social media and I feel like I know them. I think Twitter is a cool way to hear about people's everyday lives and get a sense of their humor and perspectives.
10. What are you excited about right now with your career and what's next for you?
I'm excited about my recent EP release and to release the full album next! It will be my first full album and I can't wait to share it with everyone. I am also excited to start touring and playing shows. I just found out that I will be playing in the CMA Fest this year and am really looking forward to that. I have to keep on plugging away, but I will say, I am having a blast.
1. What are your favorite places to go to in Nashville?
Robert's downtown always has great music, any time of day, any day of the week. I like going to the Ryman and the Bluebird to hear music, but I don't go there as often as I go to places like the Listening Room or the Rutledge or 3rd & Lindsley. I think Whiskey Kitchen is great. The food is delicious. The Warner Parks are really pretty, as is Centennial Park. I've been to the Zoo at Grassmere twice in the past two months, but even I think that's a little excessive.
2. What is a song or two that you wish you had written?
"I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt because it moves me every time I hear it and Bonnie Raitt is the coolest. That and "Sweet Home Alabama" because I would be answering these questions from my private island somewhere.