Exclusive Interview: Tara Priest
Born in a home surrounded by music, Tara Priest began singing at the age of 5 and quickly fell in love with performing, though the affection was likely inevitable. After all, Tara’s dad, Jerry Nolan, was a Country Singer/Musician on the early scene in Nashville, working with the likes of Tanya Tucker and Merle Haggard.
As her career in music has developed, Tara has progressed from that 5 year-old singing to her small church congregation to the recent release of her full-length self-titled debut album. With the help of Nashville producer Jeff Huskins (Little Texas) and publisher Christie DiNapoli, 11 songs were chosen for her to record. Songwriters Karyn Rochelle (Georgia Rain, Trisha Yearwood), James Gilreath (Little Band of Gold) also helped to christen the project by lending their own soothing, original ballads.
The result is an album full of compelling lyrics and melody, not to mention an original duet with multi-platinum country star Tim Rushlow. I recently had the chance to talk with Tara about her music and inspiration, among other things. Read the full interview after the jump!
STELLA: You were born in Tupelo, Miss. and were surrounded by music, can you tell us a little bit about how music was a part of your life growing up?
TARA: As early as age 3, I remember my dad and older brother singing and playing guitar. They inspired and sparked my interest very quickly. A family jam session after dinner was always to my delight!
STELLA: I know your Dad had a big impact on you musically, what other musicians or bands do you feel influenced you?
TARA: I truly love most all genres of music. I had the privilege of being exposed to so many bands/musicians growing up. My brother introduced me to The Beatles very early on, and I was hooked. Abbey Road was my first taste of their music and remains an all-time favorite. Grateful Dead and Phish were also appealing. Their soothing melodies and flawless harmonies always made me feel happy. In high school, lots of my friends were into Widespread panic. I thought it was a “fad” until I listened to a CD. I was eventually allowed to attend a life show and from then on, WSP became a big part of my life. I attended shows all over the country for years.
Of course, I am inspired by my late father as well as my older brother. I also have cousins in the industry whom I look up to and admire greatly.
STELLA: So what draws you to the Country Music genre?
TARA: It’s so funny you asked that after I’ve gone on and on about jam bands and such! Ha! Well, I’m drawn to Country because it’s in my roots, plain and simple. I especially adore classic country like Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash and Patsy Cline. Incorporating blues and folk into our sound is important.
STELLA: Tell us a little about your album, how it came to be and all that fun stuff!
TARA: I released the album in November 2010. It contains eleven tracks and is quite eclectic. I was first approached by a friend who was determined to take me to Nashville so a producer friend of his could hear my voice. We had a formal meeting at the home of Jeff Huskins, a well-known publisher in town. The next thing I knew, I was about to start on my first record. After much research, eleven songs were selected for the project. The best studio musicians in Nashville were hired on to play the tracks!
STELLA: What was your favorite part of the process?
TARA: My favorite part, hands-down, was cutting the vocals. It was hard work , but it all felt so natural like it was exactly what I needed to be doing. I felt so fortunate to be allowed such an opportunity. Never once did anyone hear me complaining!
STELLA: You’ve mentioned some possible new collaborations- What’s next for Tara Priest?
TARA: I do have lots of projects in the works. Until things are set in stone, I better not mention names just yet. My goal right now musically is to work closely with my band rehearsing and writing new material. I’m very proud of the group I’ve put together. They are truly gifted and experienced musicians. Each of them have strong opinions and are driven to achieve great things in the music industry. We are booking lots of live shows and playing with national acts. The doors seem to be opening, and I pray they continue. I will also be shooting some videos within the coming months that we’ll use online to promote the record and showcase lots of great talent!
I should add that Tara’s creative talents aren’t reserved exclusively for music, but to painting as well. To see what I mean, be sure to visit her website: www.tarapriest.com. There, you can find & purchase her music as well as her original paintings and prints. The site is updated weekly and Tara invites you to sign the guest book while you’re there!