“I had finally come to terms with releasing my life in Nashville because a lot of my identity was wrapped up being a musician there. I transitioned to being married and having a family. I loved him and his kids and we were trying to have a child. It is what I wanted. Then the affair happened and we divorced in 2017. It was almost a year of hell. I moved around a lot and had some great friends who took me in. My new home became my refuge. I just recorded my fourth album and I am in a better spot physically and emotionally than I have ever been. Maybe it took going through all of that to get here.
I was born in Ocean Springs. My dad was a Methodist minister in Mississippi and we moved around a lot. Music started when I was an infant. We had two pianos in the parsonage and I picked out songs on them when I was two or three. My older sister practiced in one room and I tried to copy her on the piano the other room. I started playing violin at six because my older sister played it. My parents were open-minded and let us figure out life and religion for ourselves.
I grew up listening to the Delta blues. My first concert was Willie Nelson with my dad who grew up on a small farm in Woodville, Mississippi. Their property backed up to Kaigler’s Bottom, where the black people lived. His house had no air conditioning so he slept with the windows open and listened to the music coming up from the Bottom late at night. My dad grew up poor, but my mother was the daughter of a university president. She started the Mississippi Boys Choir. My grandmother studied classical music at Columbia and she was a big influence on me. I often question my journey because it is hard being a musician but I keep getting lured back because it has always been a part of me. Music has always been a part of my family.
I went to college to be a social worker but changed to sociology. I worked at a rehab center in Hattiesburg but got a call to join Ryan Balthrop’s band Cold Water Flat which became Slow Moses. The first band I was in was a folk band with Ryan’s brother while we were in college. I also joined an all-girl band called Watermelon Sugar. I just wanted to sing. As a young girl, I wanted to be on Broadway, which is a little out of character for me because I am introverted. I am also a little introverted on stage and don’t talk a lot. It is harder when it is playing my own music and fronting my own band than backing up someone else. The pressure is on.
I moved to Mobile in 1994 and the band split up in 1998. I moved to Nashville to push myself and become a serious artist. I waited tables at 3rd and Lindsley and watched people for a year to see where I fit in and the musicians I could work well with. Will Kimbrough and my ex-boyfriend mentioned me to Todd Snider who was looking for a fiddle player. We played on Letterman and Leno and rode around on a tour bus. I loved playing with Todd and I am excited about opening shows for him on his tour next month.
We started recording at Rick Hirsch’s house while I was still married. It didn’t feel right. I wanted us to record as a band and how the Rare Birds play live. It took a long time for the songs to develop to where they are now. Many, like ‘The Boatman’, were written years ago. It was about a friend who was a self-sabotaging person, but now it is about my ex-husband. We recorded the album at Dauphin Street Sound and did overdubs at Rick’s. The overdubs were the most fun part because Rick and I work well together and can communicate without offending each other. I listened to Brandi Carlisle while I was recording and realized I could let it all out. When I sat in with bands, I belted it out a little more, but I reserved that for having fun, not something I did as an artist. Rick pushed me to let go. I am finding more clarity in my expression and that feels good. I got to use the whole palette in this album.
I did the vocals for ‘I want to Live’ at my house. I was by myself and was loose and free. I also recorded ‘Thanks You’ here by myself. I started writing the song in the middle of the divorce. It started off as ‘F-you’ and took about six months to evolve. I was going to therapy at the time and began to realize I was the lucky one because I loved as large as I could and I could walk away with that. The song is now about being thankful for who I became instead of being angry about what he did.
Most days I a comfortable with who I am. I have gotten stronger and the things that would once devastated me are now things I can work through. I want to be married and share my life with someone again. 2019 has been a great year and it feels good to let the past go. My favorite quote from my mother is ‘it takes a lot of living to learn to live’. I understand that much more now.
The album’s name, Honey’s Fury, is possessive and I am Honey. Bees create chaos and out of the bitter comes the sweet. Out of this fury in my life came honey and the sweet. I had good family and friends and the tools to pick myself up. I am very grateful for this outlet to write and create music from my pain. It has also become like a ministry giving a voice to others going through the same thing. I want to write songs that people can heal from, even if it is years later. I believe in the power of music.”
The album release show for Honey’s Fury is tonight at 7 p.m. at Cedar Street in Mobile.
I never questioned anything. I never regretted anything. I loved you. Oh thank you. You held my hand from the start. Pretending I was your shining star. We got married. I loved you hard and strong. Even through the storms you charmed us all. I loved you. Oh Thank you. I tried to have your baby. The doctor said it’s too late. so I cared for your children. I loved your children. All the while you were with her. What kind of man would do that? What kind of woman would take you back? I loved you. Time has passed and now I see your love for me died in the sea. But I am strong again. Now I know my love for you I have now let go. I loved you. Oh thank you.
“Thanks You” by Molly Thomas from her new album Honey’s Fury