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Wednesday, 27 April, 2011 2:13 AM
New country star Margaret Durante to perform at 98 KCQ Country Music Fest
SAGINAW, Mich. -- At the young age of 16, Margaret Durante started touring with a band all over the east coast. She enrolled at Clemson University in South Carolina, but left school to pursue her dream of music in Nashville. Durante met up with Laura Stroud, a publishing and A&R executive. The two started working together towards a record deal for Durante. The new country artist also recorded two songs for the new Disney Channel tween series, Shake It Up. One of the two songs, "Watch Me," was used as the theme song during the premiere episode.
"I've been singing my whole childhood," Durante said in an exclusive phone interview. "My parents were very encouraging. I was singing in choirs, weddings, things like that. I've had the opportunity to sing in front of a live audience. I was very lucky to meet James Stroud, my producer. Shania Twain was my first concert. I listened to the Dixie Chicks. My mom played Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bonnie Rait, Melissa Etheridge, Tracy Chapman. I loved all kinds of music. Those were the artists that I really respected and admired."
What's the story behind your song, "Mississippi's Crying"?
"It was a song that my two friends, Shelly Fairchild and Stephony Smith, wrote," she explained. "I didn't know them at the time, but I heard the song. Shelly was performing it at a Nashville venue on a weeknight. I was sort of freaked out that I dropped out of college and I was living on my own in Nashville. I didn't really know anyone. It was a big change to go through. I heard that song and it was one of those few situations in which you hear a song one time through and you want to play it. I knew I was in a wonderful position to find wonderful people to collaborate with. I became friends with Shelly and Stephony after the show. We wrote our first song together. It's going to be on the album later this year."
Please give me some highlights of your debut EP that was released titled, Maybe Tonight.
"It's a four-song EP and two of the songs, 'Paper Chains' and 'Maybe Tonight' I co-wrote," the new country music star added. "The other two are songs that I found that really relate to me. I wanted to share them with the audience. I wrote 'Maybe Tonight' with Blair Daly and Rachel Proctor. That song was written about a year ago. We were looking at the songs at hand and I was in that early stage of relationship where everything's exciting and there's a lot of anticipation and they can relate to that. We started writing this really catchy song and it took us one afternoon to finish it. It just came very naturally. I played it for my producer, James, and he fell in love with it and helped me bring it to life. It was the first song I wanted to release on the EP because I think it's a great introductory song. It shows a light-hearted side of my personality. I think it's a way to introduce yourself to your fans."
Can you give me a preview of your upcoming performance at the 98 KCQ Country Music Fest on June 18?
"Yes, over the summer, I'm looking forward to it," Durante said. "Last time I was in Saginaw was for the KCQ Golf Tournament where I did really badly. I'm excited to come back and meet the listeners. I'm going to be playing the four songs from the EP and I have a full album coming out at the end of this year. So I'll probably be playing a bunch of originals from that album. It's an 11-song album, six of which I wrote. There's some fun uptempto songs on it, there's also ballads about heartbreak and coming-of-age. It will be released in August."
She also recorded two songs for the new Disney Channel tween series, Shake It Up.
"I was introduced to a production team called Hot Rush Productions through my friend," the new country artist explained. "They invited me to sing on the series, Shake It Up, that they were writing music for. It sounded like a really cool opportunity. I've been working on my country album the past few years and I didn't think it was anything. It ended up being the songs that they aired on the show. It was kind of cool."
Where do you hope to be in the next five years?
"I'm going to have my full album, hopefully another album out after that," she added. "I want to be touring as much as I can, getting in front of the audience, interacting with listeners. I have really big hopes for the next five years. I'm really excited to get more music out there."
What would be your advice for students studying music to break into the industry?
"I think my education became very specialized when I moved to Nashville," Durante said. "It was no mystery to figure out what I wanted to do to be a performer in country music. I think it's something that you have to totally immerse yourself into. If you're not sure, you have to be sure, you have to totally jump into the pool."
Related Story: Complete Coverage of the 98 KCQ Country Music Fest
PHOTO BY GLORIA RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com
Saginaw's Ojibway island was filled with country music fans in 2010.
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