It’s always a pleasure when the opportunity to open your ears to something new arrives. Whether that something new is from an up and coming artist who’s fresh out on the market, or someone that’s been on the music scene for awhile and you’ve only just discovered their sound. For me I’ve had the pleasure recently to stumble upon a Texas treasure known as P.J. Price, with her smooth vocal style and country sound. To me her style feels like an old school basic country. It’s not oversold with the pop culture that seems to be seeping into mainstream country over the past decade. P.J. certainly provides a real vibe in her music style that you can leave you doing a small toe tap or just sit back and relax with. While she’s most certainly not the mainstream type, with two albums under her belt she’s definitely earned her awards on the independent music scene. Her self titled debut album released in 1994 earned her awards including “Album of the Year” and “Best Female Indie of the Year” of that same year with the European Country Music Association. With the success of her album, Miss Price was not only able to partake in a large European tour, but also broke ground as an independent artist for being first to have four of her singles from the debut album circulate in the Top 20 at the same time with the ‘European – American – Asian Entertainment Network’ charts. It certainly is no surprise though that her album took on such recognition when you open your ears and really listen to this woman belt out her songs. Most of which she wrote herself.
There was a break in between her debut album and her 2008 sophomore release ‘Movin On’, in which P.J. kindly explains, “Like many artists, I got a severe case of ‘burnout’ and needing to do something different for awhile.” This country crooner dedicated thirteen years of her life as a successful Realtor, while still occasionally performing private parties and events. However, she wasn’t recording or pushing anything musically until after the release of her ‘Movin’ On’ album and she retired from Real Estate. While though she doesn’t have any current plans for a third album stating, “I do have a couple of singles that I would like to get recorded, but no plans for a full album yet.” Miss Price is still indeed performing locally at festivals and other such events.
Recently, thanks to the power of e-mail and the kindness of her heart, P.J. Price agreed to do a small interview with me and answered some questions regarding her music. With that, I invite you to take a moment and relax as you hopefully enjoy an opportunity as I did to get to know a little more of this country artist.
Jane Ridgewood: How long have you been singing and songwriting?
P.J. Price: Since I was a little girl, around 4 yrs. old. My mom told me a story about being in church and I started belting out “Once a Day, Every Day, All Day Long”, so apparently I was into country even when I was little. Mama wasn’t too ‘amused’ that I was belting it out in the middle of a sermon though! My dad played piano and church members would bribe me to sing back then. They would come up to me with a dollar (which was good for a 4-yr. old little girl in the 60’s) and I’d always get up and sing something. They said I could remember all the words by heart. Now, I struggle to remember the words of my own songs. : )
What inspired you to get into the music business?
My dad was in a Southern Gospel group when I was little and most of my family were musically inclined. It was in-grained in me from the beginning! Somewhere along the way, I wrote my first songs and wanted to get into the studio to put them down on tape. Years later, someone heard it and said… “You need to be on the radio.” So I went to Nashville and professionally recorded my first radio release “Runnin’ On Love”. The song was written by a well known Nashville songwriter (Byron Hill) and released out to overseas. Releasing overseas was recommended by the professionals, due to the fact that American radio wouldn’t play an artist unless they were signed to a major label. Releasing music overseas was a great way to get a good fan base and tour, which I did in 1996. It started with one song and that eventually led to my first self titled debut CD. For my first CD, I only included one of my original tunes “Just About Over”. I wasn’t sure of my songwriting abilities at first, but it wasn’t long before people started saying that I should record more of my own material. When I recorded my “Movin’ On” CD in 2008, I really wasn’t intending to release it to radio. This album was just a way for me to put my own original music together and I had intended to shop the songs around to get others to record them. But when all my ‘ole DJ and music buddies heard about the new CD, they started asking me to release one. So I released “Game of Life”, which ended up #1 in the Indie-World Charts. It beat out the group “Little Texas” for the top spot. That song stayed in their charts for over 6 months. It was really then that I realized that I could legitimately call myself a true songwriter. It gave me a sense of validation that I could actually write a good song that was radio airworthy.
Who are your musical influences?
Wow… I have a lot of those. There is a heavy bluegrass influence in my family, although I never really cared a lot for bluegrass. I like it much more NOW than when I was younger. I found it so depressing back then! I have a treasured photo of Bill Monroe hugging me when I was about 8 or 9 years old. In my teen years, I rocked out. I was the typical teenager all into Kiss, Aerosmith, AC/DC…and I still like some of that music even now. But when I finally started listening to Country, it was Tanya Tucker (Delta Dawn) that moved me… Dolly Parton was one of my favorites. She was feisty, sassy and I related to that! More recent influences would have to be Wynonna and Trisha Yearwood… remarkable voices. One of the most powerful voices in my opinion is Martina McBride. I just love her and the music choices she has made throughout her career.
Are there any artists you would like to someday work with?
You know… when I was little, my dream was to sing with Kenny Rogers. Not long ago (and even still), I would say Vince Gill. What a voice that man has. I have often thought that I would enjoy working with someone as a backup singer. I no longer have a dream of stardom… but being a background vocalist for Martina McBride would be a great choice…and of course I’d still be happy to work with Vince Gill. : )
On your album ‘Movin On’, which song do you feel most connected to?
I would have to say “Game of Life”, which was my first radio release off the album. That song was actually written several years ago. In fact, I sang the song when I was on tour in Germany in 1996. Prior to our tour, we would go to songwriters’ nights as ‘practice venues’ before the overseas on the tour. I went to Houston to a place called “McGonigals Mucky Duck” which to this day still brings in some great Texas music artists. I remember getting up to sing 3 songs that night and when I finished, a lady came up to me with tears in her eyes and said she felt that I had written “Game of Life” just for her. She really related to the song and it touched her in a real way. When I wrote the song, I truly don’t know where it came from. It wasn’t from my own personal experience. It just happened. It’s about a little girl that starts out going through the pain of her parents divorce…only to grow up, find out she’s pregnant and watching her spouse pack his suitcase and leave, a case of history repeating itself. Actually, the first name for this song was “Baby Girl” and I changed it just prior to including it on the new CD. We felt that “Game Of Life” was more appropriate due to a phrase in the song that says, “It’s just another spin within the Game of Life.” Almost everyone has played the board game ‘Life’, so we felt it was a perfect catch phrase. But so was ‘Baby Girl’, because it was about a baby girl experiencing life and in the end that baby girl resurfaces in her adulthood. Like I said, I really don’t know where the song came from…but I’m glad it did, since I’ve had several people say they relate to it.
How would you best describe your music to new listeners?
Well… the new album was pretty traditional… because that’s what the overseas market really loves. But as far as my own personal songs, I’m all over the place with my personal songwriting. You’ll have blues pop out with “Tell Me”… you’ll have strong traditional influence with “Just About Over”…and then a dreamy ballad that is crossover in “Dreamland”. I had someone tell me that there was ‘something for everyone’ on this “Movin’ On” CD and I think they’re right. A lot of these songs were written years ago and I think I was ahead of my time. Most of these songs would have never been played on the radio in the mid 90’s… they were too contemporary back then. Now, country music has changed so much that almost anything goes. Country music today is what we would have called POP in the 90’s. Now Country mingles with rock, pop and blues influences, so it’s all over the place… kind of like my music! Had I recorded these back in the mid 90’s, radio would have scoffed at it. I think it fits in well with today’s “Country” music. I like almost all kinds of music except for heavy rock and rap. I think that tends to show in my writing style.
Is there anything you would like to say to your fans – old and new alike?
I appreciate their support. I’ve been fortunate to have some great fans, especially the ones from overseas and my tour there in the 90’s. We still keep in touch and we’ll be ‘Friends Forever’. In fact, that was the name of our tour in the 90’s. It was dubbed as the “Friends Forever tour” which was very appropriate. Some of my fans speak no English, yet we were still able to communicate through my music and very broken English. That is just so awesome to me. Music can truly cross all boundaries. All my fans are awesome and I’ve become close friends to several of them. The internet has been a great resource in communicating with them. We can keep in touch daily and share each others lives on a daily basis. Life is good. : )
A big thank you to P.J. Price for taking the time out of her busy schedule to sit down and respond this interview! Also if any fellow country music fans would like to check out this Texas crooner’s skills, I fully encourage checking out that self titled debut album and her sophomore album, both listed on CDBaby.com with previews of all songs available.