Q&A with Nashville-based artist Meg Williams; guitar-driven songs, soulful vocals, and lyrics exploring heartbreak

"Whether it is a smaller personal or inter-personal issue, or a large world-wide problem, music is another way to spread the message of hope and perseverance. It lets us know that we are not alone in how we feel, however it is we may feel, and gives us an outlet and platform to discuss issues and solutions."

Meg Williams: Love, Life & Moving On

Meg Williams performs frequently at venues across the country with her band, Meg Williams Band, as a solo/duo act, and as a guitarist for other artists. She recently competed in the 2019 International Blues Challenge (Memphis, TN), representing the Kentucky Blues Society, and was the house band director for the Women in Blues Showcase. Meg has additionally performed main-stage at the 2018 Venice Blues Festival (Venice, FL), RedGorilla Music Festival (Austin, TX), Blues Radio International during the BMA’s (Memphis, TN), Knoxville’s WDVX Blue Plate Special, Tennessee Motorcycles & Music Revival Festival, & Loretta Lynn’s Ranch as an artist, and performed at Cheyenne Frontier Days & CMA Fest as a guitarist for other artists.  Meg’s blues-rock EP, ‘Maybe Someday,’ has been played on SiriusXM’s Bluesville and radio stations world-wide – ‘Maybe Someday’ reached #10 on the Top 50 Blues Rock Album charts and on the Roots Music Report, and #38 on the Top Blues Album charts. Often compared to Susan Tedeschi and Bonnie Raitt, Meg’s guitar playing has captured the attention of listeners throughout Nashville and increasingly the US.

Originally from the Finger Lakes of NY State, singer/songwriter/guitarist Meg Williams (now based in Nashville), has signed with Nola Blue Records and released her debut full-length album, “Take Me As I Am: The Muscle Shoals Sessions” (2019). Her 2017 EP, “Maybe Someday,” opened many doors for Williams, including the chance to compete in the 2019 International Blues Challenge (Memphis, TN), representing the Kentucky Blues Society, and become the house band director for the Women In Blues Showcase.

Interview by Michael Limnios             Photos by Kristin Jaggers

How has the Blues and Roots music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you've taken?

Blues & Roots music has taken me on such an amazing journey -- from the places it has taken me (from the IBCs in Memphis, to blues venues in cities across the US, to festivals in Florida and Texas, and so much more), to the people that I have met around the world (through festivals, shows, radio, jams, so on), and to the musicians, stories, and songs I have listened to and felt inspired by -- both old and new. It's been incredible and I'm so thankful!

How do you describe your songbook and sound? What touched (emotionally) you from "Muscle Shoals/Fame" sound?

If I were to compare my sound to others, I'd say Susan Tedeschi or Bonnie Raitt -- guitar-driven songs, soulful vocals, and lyrics exploring heartbreak, love, life & moving on -- with influences in the blues, rock, and soul genres.

Being in the same studio and standing in the same exact place as so many before me - to play my own songs - was such an incredible and emotional experience at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals. And the opportunity to record with such an incredible rhythm section too. The moment it especially hit me was when I was about to record my vocals -- and I'm standing by myself in the studio, looking at all of the pictures on the walls and history at this studio -- and I hear my song come to life and played back in my headphones. I'll always remember that feeling!!

"I'm very thankful to be part of a supportive community with so many incredible women in music - both within Nashville and the (inter)national Women in Blues community. As far as challenges go, I've found that (sometimes) people are a lot quicker to address or respond to a (male) bandmate or representative of mine, whether in person or via email/phone." (Meg Williams / Photos by Kristin Jaggers)

Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

That's so hard to say -- I've met so many incredible people. I'm very thankful for all of the teachers and mentors that I have had over the years, as well as many people who have supported me & believed in my music and vision. Also so thankful for so many amazing musicians that I have had the opportunity to play with!

The best advice anyone has ever given me -- Work hard, put yourself out there, and stay true to yourself and your music. And -- of course -- always be kind!

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you'd like to share with us?

Here's just a few of my favorite shows / memories (aside from recording at Muscle Shoals, which I talked about above!):

* Performing at the Ann Arbor Blues Fest this summer with blues legend, bassist Benny Turner - such an honor & one of the most fun experiences I've ever had performing!!

* Performing at 3rd& Lindsley with the Goose Downing Band for the Nashville Blues and Roots Alliance 1 year anniversary - the sound, stage and band were incredible, and it was such a fun crowd & night!

* Last year at the Venice Blues Festival, 'surprise' cigar box jam on stage - with Super Chikan, Travis Bowlin, and Steve Arvey. And co-leading a band with Jenny Teator for the festival - hope to do it again soon!

* Playing on the Blues Radio International with Kirby during the BMAs & attending the BMAs for the first time!

* West Coast House Concert Tour with Jenny Teator and Sheridan Gates - we drove from Idaho Falls, to Portland, to San Francisco/San Jose, Palm Desert, and San Diego, performing at small intimate venues and studios, and house concerts. One of my favorite things we got to do was drive some of the Pacific Coast Highway on the way to southern California - one of the most beautiful views I've ever seen.

* Recording my first EP in Nashville at a friend's home studio in East Nashville, and featuring many of my friends in town.

"The best advice anyone has ever given me -- Work hard, put yourself out there, and stay true to yourself and your music. And -- of course -- always be kind!" (Meg Williams / Photos by Kristin Jaggers)

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

*I enjoy the lyrics and the raw emotion in many past songs -- there was less focus on perfection or a specific length of song.

*Everything is always changing -- so we have to both embrace those changes, but hold on to what we love about the music we love.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

Everyone would be appropriately paid for their time + work (songwriter royalties, no more 'exposure' gigs, etc).

What does to be a female artist in a "Man's World" as James Brown says? What is the status of women in music?

I'm very thankful to be part of a supportive community with so many incredible women in music - both within Nashville and the (inter)national Women in Blues community. As far as challenges go, I've found that (sometimes) people are a lot quicker to address or respond to a (male) bandmate or representative of mine, whether in person or via email/phone.

What is the impact of Blues music and culture to the racial, political, and socio-cultural implications?

Whether it is a smaller personal or inter-personal issue, or a large world-wide problem, music is another way to spread the message of hope and perseverance. It lets us know that we are not alone in how we feel, however it is we may feel, and gives us an outlet and platform to discuss issues and solutions.

Let's take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

I would've loved to have seen or met musicians/bands such as: BB King, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Led Zeppelin, Jerry Garcia/Grateful Dead (among many others) in concert.

Meg Williams - Home

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