Brimming with talent, Nashville is one city where it’s hard for a musician to outshine the rest, and throwback country singer Margo Price knows that all too well. “There’s a joke that I always tell,” she told Elmore, “How many musicians in Nashville does it take to change a light bulb? Twenty one, one to do it and then 20 to turn around and say, ‘I can do that, too!’” The same could be said for cutting a record with Jack White, but Price actually has.
As Third Man Records’ first country recording artist, Price gets noticed. On Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, her debut record slated for release this March, she retraces a path forged by Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn. Tongue-in-cheek lyrics coupled with a rhythm section Gram Parsons could get down with continue to work in her favor. Within a matter of weeks, the Nashville singer-songwriter, and her band, the Pricetags, left trails of smoke across television screens across America with their stalwart performance of “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle)” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and debuted at the Grand Ole Opry—the latter a pipe dream of Price’s since childhood. “When I got the call about the gig, I immediately called my grandparents,” who, Price recalled, “listened to the program on the radio” before she was even born. Earlier this month at Austin’s annual Ameripolitan Music Awards, Price was crowned “Best Honky-Tonk Female,” but was unable to receive the award in person as she and the band were back in New York City performing on CBS This Morning.
The intrepid role that Price plays to perfection on stage is certainly proof of her genius. Back in January at her first Brooklyn show at Union Pool, she sold out the damn venue. When one of the amps malfunctioned, she switched over to acoustic, playing a song she had just written. “There’s still some kinks we haven’t worked out yet,” she admitted to the crowd afterwards, obviously somewhat nervous since reps from major labels and publications stood in the audience. With her, there’s an impetus that can’t be stopped and that was obvious and the same boldness is apparent in the songs themself; the themes she tackles in songs like “This Town Gets Around” proves her worth, not just as a woman with a strong set of pipes and a knack for guitar-picking, but as a resolute individual with a backbone of her own. Without this sort of character, a musician’s career falls flat.
If there’s one thing to note, the music that Margo Price has chosen to become a master of—or in her case, a Honky-Tonk Queen of—places her in an odd corner of the universe simply because there aren’t too many others in there with her. No wonder Willie Nelson invited her to perform at Luck Reunion, his outlaw shindig on March 18.