Listening to Nashville newcomer Maggie Rose's debut album, Cut To Impress--a powerful, infectious concoction incorporating elements of rock and blues into the twang--one has to share her sentiment, "It's a good time to be in country right now!"
Certainly nobody would know this better than Maggie, who although always rooted firmly in the idea of country music, came to the genre in a roundabout way. She was raised in the Washington D.C. area--where, "there's not a lot of aspiring country musicians; I was doing something very unique that you don't see in my community," she notes--and started getting her musical footing as part of a rock band… a Bruce Springsteen cover band, actually!
Sound like an odd place for a country gal to hone her chops? As it happened, the band was a fine place for the aspiring performer to test out different genres. Maggie used the opportunity to sing just about anything that ever appealed to her: "All sorts of music, from Mary Chapin Carpenter to Shania Twain. Bonnie Raitt, No Doubt, Melissa Etheridge, Sugarland. Just a whole array of songs."
From there, it was just a matter of time before she started adding some of her original music to the set. "It really offered me the platform to get my original music out to people for the first time in front of a live audience."
Maggie then hooked up with a business partner from her hometown, who was dedicated to getting her music heard by as many people as possible. In a fortuitous turn, through what she describes as "six degrees of separation," they managed to grab the ear of famed music mogul Tommy Mottola.
"We got [his] attention by sending him some unsolicited demos," Maggie admits. "He's a smart guy, saw the potential in what he heard, and invited me to come audition in his office. I told him I wanted to sing country music, so he introduced me to a lot of the people that I work with now in Nashville. "
Maggie decided to abandon college plans at Clemson University--which she did with her parents' blessing: "They’re an incredibly strong support system," she notes. There, she ended up signing with Universal Republic under her full name, Margaret Durante.
She released a cover of Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody," which attracted attention but did not launch her exactly in the direction she wished to go in. By 2011, she was performing as "Maggie Rose," eventually landing at her current record label--and her solidly country debut full-length.
"There has been a lot of growth since that period in my professional life," Maggie says of her initial forays into the Nashville music market. "The fact that I was a little intimidated by a new industry and a new town--I hadn't really asked questions of myself that I have now. And I wasn't being the artist that I am now, because I hadn't grown up yet. I don't regret that, because I learned so much during that time, but that was the beginning of a really big evolution for me."
One thing that did not change during her growth period was her determination to remain in the country genre. "When I became very serious about my songwriting--the songs that I wrote were country songs. They were storytelling songs, and the melodies were country-based. And my vision for the production was with acoustic guitar and mandolin. I felt like that was the natural place for me to land as an artist. And really the only place. "
Now, the singer-songwriter has staked her place as one of a crop of young and talented female singers in town. Is she intimidated to be part of a movement that includes the likes of Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert? "Not at all," she says cheerfully. "Because I am in this little boom of new female artists that are emerging, we've become friends and we're booked on the same shows and getting to know each other.
"There's actually a bit of camaraderie between all the females that are starting to hit the scene--because country music needs that," she continues. "You can count on one hand the country superstars that are females."
"I definitely think we need to step-up the girl power game, and that's a really strong message that I try to get across in my music."