Amanda Gray

  • Genres
  • Americana
  • Bluegrass
  • Country
  • Awards and Nominations
    • SAMMIES 2018 Winner★ Country/Americana/Alt-Country ★
  • Musicians
    • Amanda Gray — acoustic guitar, vocals
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Q & A

Describe the worst gig you've ever played: What happened, and how did you recover?

Ugh. I played the Gilroy Garlic Festival last year, and it's normally one of my favorite shows. I play it with my full band. (We've been playing together nine years and do about five to six shows together each year.) So the week before the show, I lost my voice. Completely gone. I did all the regular vocalist home cures to try and get it together, and nothing. Day of the gig, I woke up with a super weak, but there, voice. I was jazzed. I got this. Get to the gig, set up, get ready for a 90-minute set, open my mouth to sing and literally a squeak came out. I could have cried. But instead I smiled, made a joke to the crowd about it with what little voice I could muster, and played rhythm guitar for my guys while they filled in with what's probably the only blues jam to ever take place at the Garlic Festival. It was awesome. My boys are my family, and I felt so blessed to have them have my back.

How do you describe your music to people?

As constantly having an identity crisis.

What artist or band are you a little embarrassed to love, and why?

I'm not even embarrassed—I love Britney Spears.

What did you want to be when you were 7?

A singer. I had a preschool teacher named John Carter who played children's music and always brought his guitar to class. Once I fell in love with music, I never wanted to do anything else.

What drives you to keep playing even though the music industry can be so harsh?

Such a loaded question... I think for me, the reason has changed over the years. Back when I started my first band, it was more to prove myself to other people. I was bullied a LOT as a kid and grew up with pretty low self-confidence. I felt like I needed to prove how "worth it" I was to everyone else, and even myself. Now that I'm a mom, it's so different. I love music—it's everything I want to do with my life, career-wise. I want my son to know that kind of passion, and to have the confidence in himself to pursue whatever makes him happy. I want to show him that you can have a career and a family congruently, and that life is what you make it.

What's a big musical inspiration that would most surprise your fans?

A lot of folks are surprised to find out how much I love Neil Young. I grew up with a country mama from Texas and a rock 'n' roll dad from Southern California. My mom introduced me to the music of Merle Haggard and Dolly Parton. My dad, though, would play the stereo in the garage on Friday nights, and it was always something like The Presidents of the United States of America, Bob Dylan, Local H... But my favorite was when he would play Neil Young and Crazy Horse tunes. To this day, Neil is my go-to for songwriting inspiration. I love everything he does.

What's something most of your friends don't know about you?

How much I love them... because I'm so busy working and playing music that I don't always get the chance to show them.

What's your favorite local artist/group (other than yourself, smartypants)?

I don't think I can pick just one. There's way too many. I'm a huge fan of Hannah Jane Kile, The Cripple Creek Band, Jessica Malone, Denver Saunders, Kyle Williams... The list just goes on and on.

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