By Johnny Griffith
There have been plenty of reasons for Meredith Crawford to not be where she is right now. With the challenges and responsibilities that come with work, family, and just life in general, the fact she has time to sit down and write at all is a minor miracle some days. However, once you get to know Meredith, you realize it would be hard to keep her off stage if you tried and that writing music is not only a hobby but also good therapy for the soul.
Born in Chandler, Meredith graduated from Brownsboro High School back in 2008, and after a brief move to Missouri was back in East Texas by 2009 and has been here ever since. Though raising two children as a young mother took up some of her stage time, Crawford never stopped writing and now had even more material to draw from along the way. Balance music with the non-stop responsibilities of adulthood, Meredith has managed to continue to build her musical catalog while working and going to school, writing some amazing songs, and putting on some great shows.
We got to visit this month and learn a little more about the singer/songwriter and see what makes her tick:
Johnny: When do you first remember taking an interest in music?
Meredith: I remember at a young age being fascinated by the 60s-70s hits on the Forrest Gump soundtrack that my mom and dad would listen to during the summer or when we would go camping. I knew at a young age that music could be easily tied to emotion.
Johnny: What were some of the things you did early to foster that interest?
Meredith: I started out really just like a lot of others. In choir. From 5th-7th grade, I was heavily involved in my church choir and did a few solos. In the church we went to there was always an old piano in literally every Sunday School room. After everyone would get done pairing up to play “Heart and Soul,” I would sit down and try to pick out melodies by ear, especially church hymns. I started taking piano lessons when I was 12 and used that skill to play in my High School Youth band. My mother also started taking me and my sister around to the local East Texas Opries to sing Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, and the Judds covers when we early teenagers. I started playing guitar when I was 13. I got enough tip money from my first show at the Gladewater Opry to buy a cheap pawn shop guitar. I would read chords and some good friends would give me some pointers later on into high school to make things easier as far as playing guitar.
Johnny: Who would you say your biggest early musical influences were?
Meredith: Biggest early musical influences would be Gordon Lightfoot, Sheryl Crow, The Dixie Chicks, The Mamas and the Papas, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Norah Jones, Tanya Tucker, and so many more.
Johnny: When did you realize you had a knack for songwriting?
Meredith: I don’t think I ever really truly felt that way about my writing until someone said, “Hey, that was a pretty good song. You write it?” Exposing my songwriting was like exposing my diary. But I loved to do it. If I created something I was really passionate about, then I’d be more willing to share.
Johnny: What do you typically draw from for material in your originals?
Meredith: A lot of my songwriting I draw from my own emotions or the emotions of others, but also the stories of others, particularly in East Texas. We never can fully understand the feelings of another person’s shoes, but I like to get as close as possible, and I feel like most songwriters are that way. Sometimes I can be inspired to write a song about a movie I watched, but really love to write about people and stories that cultivate in East Texas. Regardless of the subject material, the biggest booster for songwriting is allowing yourself to get emotionally involved, like in a relationship. That’s the only way you’re going to get hurt, but in the context of songwriting, that’s the only way you’re going to make your listeners feel. You can’t just scratch the surface. You have to be emotionally explorative.
Johnny: What are some of the biggest challenges for a singer/songwriter in this area since many of the stages are dominated by full country or rock bands?
Meredith: In the area pertaining to East Texas, when people go out and hear live music, they want to get rowdy and party and full bands really help facilitate that. When you’re a singer-songwriter, you’ve got yourself, your guitar, your heart and soul, and your lyrics, and that’s all you’ve got to capture the attention of the audience. The lack of sound I think gets to me the most. I hear drums and bass and guitar parts that could swim around the songs, but it’s just me and the guitar so I’m led to create a lot of musical content that makes up for that. There’s also the challenge of venues. It’s really important to get to know your venues and understand the crowds that flock to them; that way you’ll know if your sound is suited for that scene.
Johnny: How would you describe your sound at this point and how has that evolved over the years?
Meredith: This is one of the hardest questions to answer, but I will gladly do my best. I started out more country than a corn cob pipe, but I have evolved. I have always been heavily influenced by 60’s-70’s folk music, and I think those influences have the heaviest weight in my music. I don’t consider myself strictly country anymore, but I don’t think I’m strictly only rock or blues either. Honestly, I think there’s a little bit of something to serve every ear in my music and, quite frankly, I think that’s where a lot of artists are heading. I can tell you where it’s heading and where it’s loosely been, which is more in the realm of Folk/Americana.
Johnny: What do you have in the works for the rest of 2018?
Meredith: I’ve got a full-length album in the works coming up in 2018. Hopefully a music video, and working on getting a full band together. I graduate college in the Fall of 2018 and once I’m done there, I plan on hitting the road a little.
Johnny: What experience do you hope a first-time listener will leave one of your shows with?
Meredith: I hope it’s just enjoyable for them. Whenever I leave shows, I mostly feel inspired. Inspired to write a song, juice up my stage acts, try out a new lick, or the more expensive inspirations… buy new gear. If someone leaves a show feeling inspired, that’s the best feeling in the world for me.
For more information on Meredith Crawford, visit facebook.com/meredithcrawfordmusic or meredithcrawfordmusic.com.