/Shannon McNally, into the blues and drawn to the Hill country, brings ‘a real explosion of creativity’ to Jackson

Shannon McNally, into the blues and drawn to the Hill country, brings ‘a real explosion of creativity’ to Jackson

Grammy-nominated blues-Americana singer was born in New York. She spent years in Mississippi, the birthplace for American music, where she soaked up the rich vibe. In Jackson, she’ll be sharing all that and more at a concert on July 25th at Duling Hall. McNally is currently based in Nashville, where she is working on new albums. She will be bringing a selection from her extensive musical repertoire, including “Black Irish” and “Small Town Talk,” which are her tributes to Bobby Charles. McNally’s career path was destined to take her South very early on. After living in Los Angeles and making records for many years, McNally was beginning to feel burnt out. I fell in love with New Orleans because it has a great live music scene. The first time I went down there, I found myself in Maple Leaf and saw a brass band at the end of the night. I thought, “I could live here.” “This is an option.” And then, boom! That’s where it was. New Orleans became her home after Hurricane Katrina. Her husband Wallace Lester fled the region. She moved to Mississippi where Wallace lives. They settled in Holly Springs after they ended up in Taylor. “We both love the Hill country,” a region that borders Tennessee, and is known for its North Mississippi Hill Country blues. McNally says, “We’re into blues.” He has recorded a number albums with Jim Dickinson as well as an album with Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars). It was also the environment that had an impact. “There is an intense casualness associated with Mississippi’s territory, especially north Mississippi. It has a deep and complex history. It is impossible to fully understand or absorb it without becoming completely immersed in it. It’s an extremely unique place. It’s a very unique place. “It just gives you a deep understanding and changes how you hold your instrument for the better,” she said, describing the profound centering that musicians can experience. That’s what people listen to, and that’s exactly what you can find in Mississippi. This is what you can do,” McNally says, adding Oxford to her state residency count. It’s a mutual appreciation. McNally’s “Black Irish”, the 2018 winner in the category of contemporary music composition, was awarded by the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters. It was something I was proud of. “I was really proud of it. “That award really meant something to me because it was just recognition of how full-in I was while I was there.” Being a part of the state’s rich history of writing and arts “is really profound…a very big honour.” Her most personal work to date was “Black Irish”, which was the culmination of many life events. After a long battle with breast cancer, my mother had just died. I was going through a divorce and trying to figure what the next steps were with my career as well as songwriting. It was the moment in your life that knocks you to your knees. It was like, OK, what’s the deal? There was no hiding. It was clear that there was no hiding. McNally’s haunting and rich “Banshee Moan” with its “damned you do… damned you don’t” opening, struggles for working women message, and sisterhood slant coincided with the rise of #MeToo — a serendipitous timing McNally found remarkable, validating, and a relief. “I felt part in this global awakening of consciousness — and that idea that, it was something I couldn’t imagine. This is true. It’s hard to be a musician and songwriter. She says that it chooses you more then you choose it. “So when you have the validation of a culture movement happening in a part of your own heart, in your own voice and with your own voice, then you know that you are doing the right thing with you life.” McNally says she has a lot to do, including working with Blue Rose Music and on two records, one original and one a classic country record. Terry Allen, a Texas singer/songwriter and recently returned from the road with Steve Earle, McNally is currently working with him. “I’m just digging into Nashville, digging in the pool of players, and it seems like suddenly there’s nothing in mine way.” Shannon McNally will perform with her full band at Duling Hall, Jackson, July 25, 8 p.m. Doors open at 6: p.m. Tickets for Shannon McNally’s performance are $10 in advance (ardenland.net), and $15 on the day._x000D