October 28, 2011 at 9:49 am , by Ron Kelly
In this month’s installment of her Nashville Diaries, Margaret finds herself so close to releasing her first full-length CD that she can taste it, which leads her to reflect on the musical and personal changes she’s gone through over the past four years. Be sure to read on after the jump to find out how you can ask Margaret a question and maybe have her answer it (complete with a shout-out!) in our next video entry of the Diaries! Plus, you’ll get a fun sneak-peak video of the upcoming album, too.
It was November 20, 2007, when I met Tommy Mottola for the first time. I had my hair styled and my outfit picked out waaaay in advance of the meeting, and I felt confident in the one original song (titled titled “One Way Love”) that I’d submitted to him. As soon as I set foot in his office I started to tremble but I was determined not to blow my big shot. Seeing all the platinum records hanging on the wall and the album covers of music legends that were displayed everywhere, I felt like I could someday be one of those artists. Tommy was very hospitable but, come on, the guy is one of the subjects of a book titled Hit Men and he’d been married to Mariah Carey. My “Spidey senses”—what my dad calls it when you’re on high alert—were in full gear. I was determined to nail the performance, and I did! After I finished my song, Tommy complimented my voice and sense of melody, then followed the praise with this: “I think you’ve got what it takes to make it in this industry, but in order to do so you have to jump into the pool.” I dove in headfirst and almost four years later exactly, I’m still working on getting a platinum record of my own up in Mr. Mottola’s office.
Believe me, it’s easy to get discouraged in this business but I try to remind myself that success is not the result of one big opportunity seized. Remembering that helps me stay patient and it also reminds me that my work is never finished. Having the chance to meet Tommy Mottola is something that I’m so grateful for and, trust me, I wasn’t expecting him to sprinkle some magic dust on my head and make me an instant country music star. That’s not what I wanted as an artist, either. Our meeting, though, did lead to an introduction to James Stroud, my producer and label head. Through James, I’ve been given even more opportunities, and so on. Had I released an album in the projected amount of time—6 months after moving to Nashville—I probably would have set myself back as an artist. There are only so many first impressions one can make, and I’m not sure I was prepared to step out with my first album three and half years ago. In hindsight, I’m lucky to have had the time to grow and to find exactly what it is I want to say through my music. The album I’m about to release this year will be entirely different than the album I would’ve released just a year ago, and even more different than the one I will release in another few years because I’m constantly evolving.
And I’m evolving in ways other than my music. One of the things my team is helping me to prep for is the photo shoot for my album cover. I definitely want my look to reflect my new music. In fact, I was sent up to New York City in early October to shop for some wardrobe items for the shoot (such a hard gig, I know … ha!). But along with all of the fun of shopping comes the dreaded dieting and working out to look my best. I mean, I really do enjoy working out and I like eating healthy foods … but I kind of like pasta and wine more. And my boyfriend can eat an entire pizza in one sitting. (I know this because he insists on doing it in front of me.) So it always tests my patience when I get really disciplined about my diet and exercise program because I expect serious results right away. If I don’t feel like Gisele Bündchen after one week, I get seriously annoyed and start kicking my butt even harder. Eventually I get burned out and go off my program, which wouldn’t have happened if I’d just stayed steady on the course. Not this time, though! I can truly say I’m looking forward to the shoot and not worrying about it. I guess that’s another example of how I’ve evolved over the past four years: I’ve learned that the power of giving yourself a break should never be underestimated.
When you think about it, there must be a reason all those clichés exist: “One step at a time.” “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.” Yadda yadda yadda. Everyone has goals and I feel closer to achieving mine every day. Now, instead of letting myself get intimidated by how far I have to go, I’m starting to just be proud of how far I’ve come.
So that’s what’s been on my mind lately, but now I want to hear what’s on your mind! There have been a handful of questions that I’m asked pretty regularly, like “Why country music when you’re from Maryland?” and “When you’re writing a song, what comes first: the melody or the lyrics?” So if there’s something you want to know, fire away! I’d love to hear from you, so leave your questions below or do so on the LHJ Facebook page or my own. I’ll be answering the best ones for a video with LHJ that will serve as my next Nashville Diaries installment, so stay tuned!
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