Muddy Magnolia’s voices confirm one thing: we’re back to that era when music was beautiful and moving enough to be enjoyed just with the ears. No need to put up a show of extravaganza (as much as we love those at Vendôme, ‘cos we surely do), but the moment they start singing you will involuntarily close your eyes and swing to their delicate yet powerful voices.
Jessy (New York) & Kallie (Mississippi) met thanks to what we’d like to believe was destiny, and have been blessing the crowds ever since with tunes that brilliantly mix their backgrounds, as different as they are.
They are as sweet as talented and didn’t hesitate to share the story of their sudden and unstoppable success with us:
We both moved to Nashville, Tennessee three years ago to further our careers in songwriting. Jessy moved from New York after touring with John Legend as background vocalist for years. I (Kallie) moved from the Mississippi Delta to Nashville after working as a photographer for years. I had just started writing songs and wanted to see what Nashville was all about. There was a man on Music Row who was helping me connect the dots and I gave him one of my framed photographs as a thank you gift. Jessy actually saw the photo on his desk and asked who the photographer was that took the picture! He immediately set us up for drinks and the rest just started unfolding.
“The first connection we felt was that we weren’t that much alike. Neither one of us had any friends in Nashville yet so we kinda just started hanging out with each other every night because we didn’t know anyone else! I grew up in Brooklyn, NY and Kallie grew up in Southeast Texas and our childhoods on paper were exact opposite…but the more we continued to get to know each other, the more we realized we had so much in common. For instance—strong, pushy and opinionated mothers and a mutual love for the Dr. Dre chronic album! (Both laugh)”
We were sitting up at the bar at one of our favorite restaurants in Nashville just talking about our careers in the music industry and what paths we were going to take to find success. We had been songwriting partners for about two months and Jessy was telling me that she wanted to make history in Nashville! She wanted to make a name for black female songwriters on music row. And I was tossing the idea around of pursuing a career as an artist, leaning on Jessy for advice and we were just truly talking as friends about where our careers were headed. She looked at me and said “Why don’t we make an album together?” And that was it. We were so inspired immediately and we haven’t stopped since!
“Someone suggested we be The Magnolias…and we liked the name but I’m from Brooklyn and just wanted something that had more grit to it. Kallie and I went to a record store and started browsing albums, and we came across a Muddy waters album and the Muddy Magnolias was born.”
Kallie is from Texas and Jessy is from Brooklyn. Those are absolutely different backgrounds. Can you feel that at a personal and artistic level?
Yes, sometimes. But honestly, once we grew close we realized that we were more alike than different. That’s how everyone feels once they get to know someone. Artistically it has given us so many avenues to explore. I never thought I’d be writing soul music and I guarantee Jessy never thought she’d write a country song (laughs)… So yes, combining two backgrounds has been very inspiring for us artistically.
Despite the different backgrounds, are your musical influences similar?
Yes and no. Some artists that Jessy listens to I have never heard of and vice versa. But you’d be surprised at how much music we have actually have in common!
We both bring it all, at different times, on different days. There is no set pattern to the way our music is created. It’s an energy that is constantly growing and then it spawns into all kinds of things creatively… and we are just along for the ride.
Our songs are about spirituality, love, brokenness, being a woman
If you could collaborate with any band or singer, who would it be?
I think our answers will be different! But mine (Kallie) is Jim James for sure.
Jessy, you’ve worked as back-up singer for John Legend, how was that experience?
It was incredible. I used my tour salary to follow him around to studios all over the country on writing trips, and that’s how I got my start as a songwriter which eventually led me to where I am right now. I owe so much to John and the friendship we shared as he mentored me.
(Kallie) I don’t think I ever dreamt of being a musician. I grew up with a musician. My mother was a nightclub singer turned church pianist—we were always playing and singing music since I was born. I never thought about it being a career. When my husband gave me the guitar, I was 27 years old, and I don’t know how to explain it—I was living deep in the heart of the Mississippi Delta and I think the creative spirits were just all over me and I started writing music. That’s what turned music into a passionate career for me—writing songs.
Who’s your biggest inspiration?
(Kallie) I have so many…and they are all so different. We both kind of bounce all over the place musically—which is most fun. My mom is probably the biggest. Bobbie Gentry, Jim James—and Sarah Jarosz is a new songwriter I just found that I obsessing over. (Jessy) I have so many too…but Aretha Franklin for sure and then a newer inspiration is the Alabama Shakes. I started listening to them a lot last year and Brittany is so soulful and inspiring to me.
(Kallie) We’ve got all kinds of short term goals and long term goals. One long-term goal that we always dream about is writing a musical together. It’s been a dream of mine for a very long time and Jessy and I have such great working chemistry that I started tossing the idea around and she got really excited! So maybe we’ll do that one day! (Jessy) And then just making more music and building a beautiful career…that’s what the goal is always.
Are you currently on tour?
Yes we are playing a lot of summer festivals. Next one is Lollapalooza in Chicago!
What’s the next that we can expect from Muddy Magnolias?
Our debut record is coming in September! Wahoo!
Photos by Josh Telles
KEEP UP WITH THE MUDDY MAGNOLIAS:
And get to know their beautiful sound in the video below!