Part of the reason we love certain songs is because they say things that we can’t. We may be afraid to say specific things, not want to admit them or may feel alone, but as so often happens, there’s a song that provides a helping hand and proves we aren’t alone in the fight.
If you ask David Allan Coe, one of the seminole theme in country music is mamas, and with her new single, “Last Names,” Texas native and Nashville-living singer/songwriter Kate Clark is showing extra love for the work her mother put in during her childhood, raising her solo after her father left. Heavy-hitting lyrics throughout the song paint her mother as a superhero of sorts, while an acoustic-driven melody, matched with mandolin and steel guitar running throughout, put Clark’s emotional lyric and delivery at the forefront.
We chatted with Clark about falling in love with music, finding her voice as a songwriter, all about “Last Names,” what listeners can expect from her new music for the rest of the year and more!
Pro Country: Your bio mentions that early in your life, you developed a deep appreciation for music’s ability to console and connect with listeners. Who were the artists you were drawing inspiration from at that time that made you develop that love?
Kate Clark: My love for music as a kid was heavily inspired by Allison Krauss, Garth Brooks, Celine Dion, Martina McBride, George Strait and the queen of country, Shania Twain, to name a few.
PC: You began pursuing a music career soon after graduating high school. What was it like for you to dive in head first that early in your life? What emotions were you feeling?
KC: Diving into the music industry at an early age felt more natural than most things in my early life. Aside from navigating rejection, which for most can be daunting, I learned quickly how to turn that into fuel to keep the fire and love for music inside of me burning. I honestly felt a freedom and excitement to explore the world.
PC: You moved to Los Angeles for a time and worked as a production assistant. How important was that job and learning that aspect of the industry at that early point in your career?
KC: Moving to LA and working as a production assistant for some of Hollywood’s biggest musicals was absolutely instrumental in my journey. I got to see up close and personal what goes on behind the curtain. Before those opportunities, I had a pedestrian view of the industry. I believed you had to be perfect. I had no idea the amount of people and work that went on behind a single artist and a song. It showed me how important a team and teamwork is.
PC: You spent your first few months in Nashville writing solo and finding your “voice” as a songwriter. What were you able to discover about yourself as both an artist and as a songwriter in that explorative period?
KC: My first year in Nashville was spent writing. I quickly learned that the song is most important. In that explorative time, I learned I had a lot of healing to do, a lot of things to say, and my fire and drive to exist in this beautiful community of artists had grown to a whole new level.
PC: After spending those years solo-writing, you released your self-penned single, “No Halo,” in February of this year. What emotions came with getting a part of your story and something you had written by yourself out into the world?
KC: My first release was actually a bit daunting. “No Halo” was a song that I wrote simply to remind myself that you can exist and be happy without carrying the burden of trying to be perfect. Living in the age of social media and filters where you have access to see usually only the highs in one’s life can easily leave you feeling less than. I can’t say when writing “No Halo” I ever expected to release it, but I’m very happy I did.
PC: Two of your first three releases were reimagined versions of Pharrell’s “Happy” and Oasis’s “Wonderwall.” What do you look for in looking for songs to record new versions of, and why did you choose each of those?
KC: I decided to dive into recording some covers during the pandemic. I decided to tackle Pharrell’s “Happy” after about the 10th night of my at-the-time 1 year-old son being obsessed with it and having nightly family dance parties before bed. “Wonderwall” happened after I heard it at 3am unable to sleep. I thought, “I need this. This song is therapy.” When choosing songs, for me it really is just about feel and the lyrics being able to connect me with where I’m at or whatever I’m dealing with at the time.
PC: Your new single, “Last Names” is set for release on April 30. Why did you feel it was the right follow up to your reimagined version of “Wonderwall”?
KC: It was important for me to follow with “Last Names” because “Wonderwall” was such an introspective art piece, and “Last Names” is a song that is for everybody. I think we can all relate in some way or another to growing up and looking back on our childhoods and realizing how hard our mothers worked. Being at a place in life where we see our parents as human and understanding the struggles they went though is important.
PC: “Last Names” was written with Devin and Katie Malone, and was a song written about your relationship with your father. Can you take us in the room and talk about the inspiration behind the song?
KC: I brought the idea “some of us get last names, that don’t mean a thing.” I think we all knew this could be special song. Of course we started the write with butter-loaded biscuits and fries, because what write starts without carbs?! The vibe in the room that day was amazing. I think there is always something special in a song when it’s approached to just speak the truth. In this, case we told my story, which unfortunately is common for a lot of people in the world. I think that is what makes it so powerful.
PC: Some may say that “Last Names” is quite a vulnerable song as you dive into its heavy subject matter. What is it about yourself as both a songwriter and as an artist that allows you to dig that deep and be vulnerable in your music?
KC: “Last Names” is indeed one of the most vulnerable songs I’ve written. I was able to really go deep and allow myself to put it all on the table because it is important for me to speak for those who could be wondering why they have their father’s last name, but no father. It was also important to me to find a way to thank my mom for her strength and courage.
PC: Your father has passed away, and you’ve mentioned the love you have for him and his impact on your love of country music. Would you say that writing “Last Names” was cathartic for you in any way?
KC: Losing my father was tough. The message in “Last Names” can seem a bit tough for absentee fathers and I struggled with, “what will my dad think when he hears this song?” Unfortunately he didn’t get the chance to, but I believe he would have understood why I needed to write it as he apologized and acknowledged in his own way for his shortcomings.
PC: Your bio lists several unreleased tunes along with your current releases. What information can you give about those upcoming releases? What can listeners expect to hear?
KC: I’m so excited for this year! We are releasing a song every month, alternating between covers and originals. Listeners can expect to take a journey through the mind of an open, free-spirit gypsy who is simply happy to share; share my thoughts, my heart and my soul. Stagecoach meets Coachella! Come one, come all, just as you are!
PC: Of the things you can control, what are your plans for the rest of 2021?
KC: If I can control anything in 2021, it’s how hard I’m working to share my music. Music saved me and gave me a voice. Art is love, and the world could always use a little more love.