/‘Superhero’ Garrison Starr finds better days

‘Superhero’ Garrison Starr finds better days

Junod is depressed and at the bottom of his existential break. He has had a few moments with Rogers, and it led him to question his life. Rogers assures Junod that he is not broken and then the gospel choir takes over the scene with a rousing chorus. Rogers is still blasting “Better Day Comin'”, and then he says in another scene, “You need to let everyone know that each one is precious.” Garrison Starr, a native of Hernando, can relate to both of these characters. The three verses of “Better Day Comin'” are a great way to learn a lot about the singer-songwriter. It was written by Adrianne Gonzalez. She sings of laying to rest ghosts, “I’ve seen more that I wanta see/ The people who love turning on my me.” It rings more true than it seems. Starr spent 25 years turning negative thoughts on their heads and making music from them. Starr’s journey from high school dropout to alternative-rock star and TV composer began while she was still in highschool. But it took an unexpected turn after graduating. Starr, like many of her friends, enrolled at the University of Mississippi. Starr didn’t have the chance to experience college life for very long. After being exposed as a lesbian, she was forced to confront the unspoken rules in her community. Institutions and relationships that she believed were safe turned against her. Starr, who lives in Los Angeles, says that her sexuality became a problem. They couldn’t expel me from the sorority, as that’s illegal. But they tried. It was scandalous and I had to leave Ole Miss. “I was humiliated and outed” She fled to her parents’ house and saved enough money for Memphis. There she hoped to find a more accepting community. Starr didn’t stay long in the Bluff City. After seeing Starr perform at a local nightclub, a representative from Geffen Records signed her to a developmental deal. A friend was moving to L.A. and offered to transport her stuff in his truck. With a record contract in her pocket, she accepted the offer and began work on Eighteen Over me, her third album. She says, “I wasn’t feeling good about my self, and I didn’t feel like I could live my own life.” Starr says that she felt like others were watching me all the time, including my parents. After rock radio embraced her song “Superhero”, Starr was able to land a tour with Nashville legend Steve Earle and a spot on Lilith Fair, where she performed with the Indigo Girls. “Superhero” was played at 1999 Women’s World Cup at Rose Bowl. It was all great. Just as Geffen was starting to gain momentum, Geffen was taken in by the Universal Music Group merger. This left Geffen’s artists and labels reps in limbo. Geffen’s career was stalled after the machine behind “Superhero,” which was almost immediately locked up. She was also confused by another aspect of major-label life. Although she had moved to L.A. from college to discover herself, she found that more people were trying to make her what they wanted. Starr felt discouraged by her casual Tomboy appearance. Starr was told straightly by a label rep that they did not want her to look like the Indigo Girls. She saw a different woman in her publicity photos than she saw every day in the mirror. Garrisonstarr.com We have to show you some tough love until you can get your self-esteem back. Starr’s trust was telling me I was wrong but I knew deep down that I wasn’t wrong.” Starr had been bouncing back and forth between highs/lows from finding new recording opportunities to fighting writer’s block by 2000. After Songs From Take-Off To Landing in 2002, her output was slowed down. She then went on to record another two albums before she decided to move to Nashville. Nashville was not the new place she hoped for after nine years living in Los Angeles. Instead, she was faced with familiar challenges. She says, “All my Nashville friends were married or in relationships when I lived there, and I wasn’t.” She also said that her career was not going well and she didn’t feel happy about herself. “I was just really down.” She was eventually persuaded by a friend who worked in music publishing to start writing music again. “Nini [Camps at Concord Music] called me, and asked, “Why are you sitting here in Nashville doing nothing?” Why not get up to New York and show your support? Starr moved to Los Angeles in 2010 and her second act as music writer for TV/film grew. She’s had song placements on TV shows such as “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Pretty Little Liars”, “The Hills,” and “NCIS Los Angeles” in the last ten years. She says that she began to think about it as Forrest Gump. He goes out and starts Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. Then he takes the boats out and pulls the nets back in. There’s seaweed and barbed wire and broken toilet seats and dead shrimp. He keeps going. He continues to cast the nets, and the nets get wider until finally there are shrimp.” TV cuts began coming in just as the music business declined. In 2010, 52 percent of the company’s revenue came from physical sales. That percentage dropped to 9 percent by 2019, while streaming has grown to 80 percent of U.S. music listening. Starr’s business is still strong because of those film and TV opportunities. To turn her life around, she needed discipline and to recognize that the past will always return no matter what you do. In another line from “Better Day Comin’,” she states that “no anger nor no bitterness can fill my chest.” She says that letting go can be liberating. “I think a lot of my ship’s turning around has been me being able to forgive myself as well as others,” she says. She also states that “taking responsibility for my business and all the mistakes I made and the successes I have had is a key part of my success.” It has made a big difference to take ownership of my life and accept responsibility for my story. “I am not as angry or as dark as I was in my 20s. It was difficult for me. Now, I feel better, more grateful, and more generous. That makes a big difference in the universe’s gifts for me. Sometimes you don’t get the good things you want, but they are there. This story is exclusive to The ExPat, part Mississippi Today’s Mississippi ExPats Project. To receive the specially curated newsletter, click the button below.