Bellamy Baylor is no stranger to the music scene. A native to Music City and growing up in Nashville has given Bellamy a unique perspective and a desire to add her own spice to the hometown country scene. Listening to her sing and trying to put her in a category is not a simple task; Bellamy can rev it up with a rocking up-tempo or rip your heart out with every sad detail of a heavy ballad, making you want to hear more. With country heart and unexpected nuances of soul and blues, it's apparent she's been a sponge for an eclectic variety of musical influences.
After her recent industry showcase in Nashville, Bellamy and I visited about the experience, the expectations and her dreams. A gal who is on her way to creating her own niche in her own way, with style and flair that matches the beautiful voice.
Bev: Bellamy, the showcase absolutely was amazing. You are a talented gal, I know you put a lot of work into the preparation, so now that you have had a chance to catch your breathe, how are you feeling about it?
Bellamy: I felt good. I practiced really hard. I was a little concerned going into it because of all the practicing that I was a little fatigued, but I did feel good about it. I was so excited and pumped because to do a show like that with the band and the back up singers. Every body that was there was there to see me. So that was really exciting.
Bev: Let us back up a little bit now. I know you have been singing and writing forever. Talk a little bit of the history of your coming into this. This is going to be the first CD that you have done entirely on your own.
Bellamy: Yes. Actually we have not finished the full CD yet. I hope to get picked up by a label; we are still feeling that out. I grew up writing and singing. I have a lot of writers and singers in my family that are involved in music in one way or the other. I did not really realize that everybody did not write songs until I was about twelve. Up until that time, everyone I was around had written this song or that song; so I kind of thought that was how life was. I went to the University of Tennessee and realized I really did not like music theory, even though my first interest was always music. I played piano growing up and sax guitar, but I hated music theory. Having music as my major, I had to take music theory. My second love was theater. I had done a lot of theater in high school, so I majored in theatre and minor in music and dance. I started dancing at the age of three so my emphasis all around was performing. I later went on and became certified to teach tap, jazz and ballet. I did that for a little while and taught voice at the studio where I grew up, but that was really distracting for me as far as what I really wanted to do with my life. I tried to get focused as to why I was back in Nashville; to pursue country music. That was the genre that I felt most comfortable with. I never really set out to aim in a market or genre, I just wanted to play the music that I felt was coming out of me and doing it in a way that I felt was the most real and authentic for me. Wherever that falls I am happy, whoever the audience is that enjoys that and kind of gets me and where I am coming from. For the last couple of years I have been doing a lot of Writers’ Nights. Last fall I got the opportunity to put together a band and play some band gigs at some of the Broadway venues like Paradise Park and Cadillac Ranch. Since then it has been moving forward in incremental steps, having a recorded project for people to hear, writing some more and so forth. I was really excited Tuesday night because I got to do a lot of new material that was not even written when we recorded the tracks for the EP. That was really exciting. I feel like my style is a lot more focused and that I have a lot more confidence in my style. Whatever my style is! I am content with what it is, I am not trying to be anybody else or copy anyone else. I do not really care to. I am stepping out there without fitting into a box or a mold of some kind is freeing, yet frightening too. It took me awhile to get to the point where I had the confidence to say “you know what? I am going to be what I want to be.”
Bev: Have you had the opportunity to open for anyone yet, to go out and share the bill with another entertainer?
Bellamy: No, I have not. I did perform at the Mule Days Festival this year. I was really excited, wondering if this counted as my first fair gig. I know you heard the song I sang the other night and how much I love my animals; on the way there they were all telling me “look here, we can not fit a donkey or a mule in this vehicle. So prepare yourself, we are not coming home with an animal.” And sure enough when we got there, here were all these little tiny miniature mules! They were the cutest things. I absolutely would have taken one of those.
Bev: Are you trying to book things right now other than just the Downtown Broadway shows, or are you trying to finish the recording?
Bellamy: For the last few months I have been doing my normal Writers’ Nights and that kind of thing. Our invitation campaign for the showcase was really ambitious. It took a lot of time. So I have been focused on that for the last two or three months. There was a lot of preparation to be done there and the three weeks after the invitations went out was about rehearsing and being with the band and so forth. In the next couple of weeks I think I we will decide if we are going to finish the album or try to get a gig where I can do and I can let people get to know who I am. Maybe I can gather a fan base and find out who it is that digs what I do.
Bev: Now I know you are doing the social networks because obviously I have joined yours. How are you using those to promote yourself? I know you have a publicist that you are working with now also. Are you Tweeting and that kind of thing to try to generate interest in your work?
Bellamy: I am not a habitual tweeter. I am not one of those who when I get home tells every little tiny detail. I do try to have my gigs on Twitter so that my fans can keep up with me that way. I try to send out reminders for that. Twitter has been very helpful in that aspect. There are a lot of people that I do not have their e-mail addresses or telephone numbers and it is a way to keep in touch with them. These people are friends of mine from My Space and Facebook. I am not really a Blogger either. I am very private and introverted in some ways, so I have not been able to make myself get online and write all this personal stuff and random things the way a lot of people do. I guess it is just my nature. I would rather write a song that relates to my life than I would to Blog online. You do not want to get into down mood at three-o’clock in the morning and get online and write something and then be sorry about what you write, wishing you had not told everyone in creation about it.
Bev: Let us talk a little bit about your song writing. I know that you have written or co-written everything so far.
Bellamy: The other night we did ten songs and there were two songs that I did not write. We also did one cover, but yes, I did write the majority of the songs we did the other night.
Bev: Do you have any kind of a regimen that you go through when you write? Do you have a notebook where you constantly put ideas when they come to you? Everyone has their own way of doing it.
Bellamy: Well, I do not have to sit in a candle lit room like some people do, but I do have a lot of notebooks. I get frustrated with myself because I keep starting new notebooks. People give me journals for gifts because they know that I like having a notebook around. I do prefer to write with pencil and paper. If I am out and about, riding in the car or something, I often find myself writing. I just pull out my cell phone and voice record on the phone, like snippets of song ideas. I do not really have a regimen. And I am not really a huge fan of co-writing. I started co-writing a couple of years ago because I realized in Nashville it is kind of like “expected”. So I felt obligated to co-write. But I do not love it because I write when inspiration hits and if you have an appointment it is not necessarily when the inspiration is there. I find it really hard to try to generate genuine inspiration at an appointment setting. So that has been a tough adjustment for me.
Bev: Every one is an individual when it comes to that. Some people love it, others hate it.
Bellamy: It also depends too on who the co-writer is. There have been some co-writers that have come in and it has been natural and organic. And then there have been others that it has been like banging your head up against the wall trying to come up with three words. It makes you wonder how you got yourself into this! And it causes self-doubt when I'm in a situation like that and can't seem to produce.
Bev: Is there any type of music that you enjoy writing or singing about more than another? Like love songs or ballads?
Bellamy: Yes, very much so. I do not write a whole lot of love songs, not because I am jaded about love, but I gravitate toward “up” tempos. I gravitate toward songs that in some way are woman empowering or strong, independent women. My dad hates it. He is always saying “Why do you always write about these women lib stuff?” He is an ordained Pentecostal minister, as were both of my grandfathers. I really do not feel that it is Women’s Lib stuff; I just like to write about strong, independent women. I gravitate toward that. I like up tempo, a little bit rock, a little bit jiving. I like things that have good soul and good groove. I do not tend to write a lot of love songs, or super sappy kind of thing. I went to a writing appointment with a guy that I actually ended up writing a number of songs with that are some of my favorites and he is just a good old country boy!
The first writing appointment we had together he said I was thinking about there was this break up and I may not have your heart, but I still have your credit card. And it being a woman song, I just said immediately “Oh yes, I can write that.” I can write about shopping and shoes and how I am going to spend your money.” It was really great. He actually had a publisher at the time and his publisher loved it. They ended up recording it, pitching it and Linda Davis sang the demo. That was my first song that really got any attention in the publishing world. So that was really exciting. I like to write anything with a tempo and with a positive theme now. A couple of times I have had people come up to me and tell me they just love that credit card fraud song I wrote.
Bev: Who are your idols and the people that you look up to musically?
Bellamy: Aretha Franklin, Linda Ronstadt, Delbert McClinton. I did not listen to the radio until I was about twelve. My parents did not listen to the radio, so what I listened to was whatever they gave me on tapes or CDs, so I had recordings by the Coasters, Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Linda Ronstadt, and the Judds. Most of what I listened to growing up I think influences me the most. I still love the stuff that was around long before my era. Those are the people that I just really adore.
Bev: When you write or sing, do you tend to choose songs that lean toward that kind of music?
Bellamy: Yes, I do. I think my style has become some sort of eclectic infusion of those bands. I like anything that has a little bit of funk, soul or retro. I really gravitate toward those bands.
Bev: I could see that the other night. I could see that coming out of you and I think that is a very true statement about yourself. I know you have a Bluebird date coming up, which is a great venue to expose listeners to your music; do you have other shows confirmed?
Bellamy: No, not coming up. But like I said for the last couple of months I have so focused on the Showcase that I do not even have anything booked except for that Blue Bird date. I had a number of dates in June. I sang the National Anthem at a baseball game, had a whole bunch of Writers’ Nights, and I just played the Bluebird last weekend. June was pretty busy for me in terms of dates. But those were dates that I had booked before I got busy. And the last couple of months I have been so busy I do not have anything booked. I feel bad about that.
Bev: It will all fall into place; I am sure of that. Thank you so much Bellamy I look forward to seeing you again soon and hearing more music from you. I feel like you have a very bright future ahead of you.
Bellamy: Thank you so much for everything and for spending time with me, I have enjoyed getting to know you as well.
For more information on Bellamy Baylor visit www.myspace.com/bellamybaylor.
For additional photos of Bellamy’s industry showcase visit http://MomentsByMoser.zenfolio.com/bellamybaylor.