Lori McKenna describes the village that helped her develop her songwriting expertise on “Stay Human”
Lori McKenna doesn’t need to be introduced, but on the Stay Human podcast, it was impossible for host Michael Franti not to mention her accolades. McKenna’s career is highly decorated with various awards, including being the first female songwriter to win two consecutive CMA Awards for Song of the Year (“Girl Crush” in 2015 performed by Little Big Town and “Humble and Kind “in 2016 performed by Tim McGraw). After recognizing McKenna’s unparalleled songwriting abilities, McKenna and Franti jumped into the conversation.
The first topic the duo hit on was that despite McKenna’s expertise in country music, McKenna grew up just 20 miles south of Boston, Massachusetts. “I’m kind of faking a country, a southern accent now,” McKenna confessed. “I grew up around a ton of music, but none of it was country. But when I started writing songs, when I was 13, my first song was weirdly this love triangle of a husband, wife and rodeo – like [the husband] love the rodeo. My brother said to me, ‘Well, who are you? Where did that come from? ‘”
McKenna goes on to the podcast to explain her family dynamics growing up and how her older siblings and father influenced her work ethic as well as her deep love for all music, especially country music. Now McKenna has developed her support system. She thanks her husband, her five children and her friends for continuing to inspire and humiliate her.
Specifically, the singer / songwriter remembers when she caught the performance bug. It happened when McKenna was about 25 years old and after years of keeping his songs in a songwriting journal. “I had all these songs, and my sister-in-law Andrea, who is married to my brother Donald, convinced me to go to an open mic in Boston. And I just got the bug from there. I sat in that first open mic, and watched all these people stand up and throw their hearts at it [stage] – just put their hearts on the table… And I just sat there a little surprised, ”she said.
Once McKenna started acting, the rest of his career rushed through his life at full speed. Listen to the podcast to hear McKenna tell Franti about her experiences recording in Nashville, her time writing and performing with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, and listen to her discuss the impact of being a mother on her songwriting.
Listen to the episode Stay human here and listen to Lori McKenna’s latest album the ballad here. McKenna also explained her history of writing songs for “Humble and Kind” on CMT’s i wrote that series below.