“I grew up singing as a kid in my mom’s car and in the choir at Ford Park Baptist Church in Shreveport, LA. Seeing I had a knack for music, Mom put me in piano lessons when I was five. I later learned other instruments and played trumpet in the band. Playing guitar and writing songs started in high school, when I went through some difficult times. My parents divorced, and I was learning I was a queer person, which wasn’t accepted in the Bible Belt during the nineties. Writing songs and poetry became a meaningful way to let out my emotions and process my internal struggles.
I left Shreveport as soon as I turned 18 and majored in English at Loyola University New Orleans. I started a band in college, but several members moved away after Hurricane Katrina, so I got a job selling tile. Unfulfilled creatively, I returned to school and got a master’s degree in creative writing at UNO. My love of writing now comes out in my songs.
To me, every song is a small miracle. When I start writing, I don’t know where it will go, but a good song hopefully arrives where it’s supposed to. I often don’t believe I am writing the song; I am just a vehicle for it to exist, and I am listening for its message. I surround myself with good musicians so they can help tell the story through texture.
I’m still a spiritual person and learned how to find spirituality in ways more meaningful to me than when I was a kid. The song ‘My Story’ is influenced by the hymn ‘Blessed Assurance’. It began out of frustration with the Americana music industry’s focus on marketing an artist’s story instead of their music. Artists use their stories to stand out, and I didn’t feel like I had an outrageous story. I had dark times, but I grew up with a loving family and went to a good school. This frustration with music marketing got me thinking about how I became who I am. A couple of lines from the song ‘My Story’ are: ‘I grew up on the edge of the church pew being taught that I was wrong / Still I opened that hymnal every Sunday / Still I followed along, singing this is my story, this is my song / This is my story, this is my song.’’ Figuring out who I was and living where that wasn’t accepted is part of my story. It’s part of the reason I am who I am today.
Early in my career, I put out records and performed under ‘Kelcy Mae.’ Roadblocks were everywhere, and I felt I was spinning my wheels without seeing results. Kelcy Mae was hard for others to spell correctly and didn’t feel like me in the end. The band name Ever More Nest was born while I wrestled with my identity. It came from a line in a poem about a woman watching a bird—every day she saw ‘ever more nest.’ It’s an expansive sense of home that also elicits nostalgia and sometimes discomfort. I found a producer I wanted to work with and things fell into place. I drew from the sounds I grew up with—gospel, country and blues—and ended up in Americana. I finally felt at home within myself and felt I knew better how to use my voice.
I have been in New Orleans for almost 22 years, and part of me wants to return to the country. My grandmother grew up in a rural part of Louisiana’s hill country and would take me there throughout the year. Being there was the most at home I’ve ever felt. My grandmother left her acreage to me, and I built a tiny cabin there this year for my 40th birthday. It’s off-grid with no air conditioning, so I haven’t gotten to use it yet. After I play at Callaghan’s in Mobile on Sunday night, I’m hoping to go and stay for the first time in fall. I can’t wait to sit by the campfire and in the quiet.
Turning 40 has offered a chance to stop and think about what matters to me. In many ways, my songs continue revealing to me that home and the South still play a big role in who I am and what inspires me.”
Here is the link to the song “My Story”.
(Ever More Nest plays at Callaghan’s in Mobile on Sunday, Oct. 15. Photo provided by Kelcy)