Deidre Thornell is an artist that has worn many different hats sonically, and that’s exactly how she prefers it.
With her newest single, “Black Widow,” the Dallas native proves she’s unafraid to tackle her diverse sonic influences to show the various sides of her artistry, as her newest effort comes equipped with a thumping backbeat and heavy guitars with steel guitar woven throughout.
We caught up with Thornell to talk all about “Black Widow,” as well as making her Whiskey Jam debut, new music and more!
Pro Country: Your last single, “Ohio,” was your first single release in about a year and a half. As release day approached, how much were you looking forward to having new music available for fans after a bit of a layoff, and why was “Ohio” the song you wanted to begin your newest musical chapter with?
Deidre Thornell: After going through pandemic times, writing with Liz Dorros and Tim Pasley, who are unbelievable songwriters, gave me back the excitement I hadn’t felt since pre-pandemic times. I decided I wanted “Ohio” to be the first release in the collection of new music because it fit who I was at the time, and who I am growing into musically. When I finally got into the studio with Sal Oliveri and the song was finished, I realized even as a proud Texan at heart, but also living and chasing musical dreams in Nashville, I was writing songs about an experience in Ohio of all places, that I one hundred percent related to. The song is so universal if you listen to the lyrics. We’ve all experienced love that we’ve lost and have had to accept the healing process that follows heartbreak. With that said, my feelings were all over the place. I was nervous, excited and relieved to be putting myself out there again!
PC: Why did you feel that your newest single, “Black Widow,” was the right follow up to “Ohio”?
DT: As artists, we tend to write songs about experiences we live through. “Black Widow” is a narrative that has a fun and sexy plot. It was an entertaining change of pace from my previous releases. My fanbase, who has seen me live, knows how versatile I am on stage. I’m trying to give those fans, and new listeners, that experience with “Black Widow” and future releases.
PC: You co-wrote “Black Widow” with Mark Mulch. Can you take us in the room and talk about how the song came together?
DT: Not many know the story of “Black Widow.” It was a cold February night on Valentine’s Day. Mark opened his door, handed me a Valentine’s Day card, and we cracked open a bottle of wine. He sat on his couch with his guitar in hand. I sat in a chair in the corner of the living room by the fireplace, staring deeply into the blue and orange flames. As songwriters do, we talked through ideas of what to write. I was single and NOT looking for love. I told him I wanted to write a song about a girl who doesn’t need a man, with a country/rock vibe. At the time, I didn’t have a song like that in my catalog. He laughed and played a rock-style guitar lick and grooved on it for five minutes, then it hit me: the first verse rolled off my lips, and suddenly, “Black Widow” was born.
PC: “Black Widow” packs a punch with a country-rocking sound that is unique to your catalog so far. How much did you enjoy being able to flex that influence and showing your sonic diversity?
DT: Thanks for noticing! Unique to the catalog is the right phrase, for sure. I look forward to exploring this direction more this year, honestly. All the songs I release are parts of me at different times in my life. I’ve mentioned before, I love being versatile, even if it’s all woven with the same common thread: me. It feels good flexing my more rock/pop/bluesy influences and showing more diversity in my recordings. When Dran sent the first draft recording, I knew we could get grittier, dirtier, heavier with the track. We talked about not going too far off the deep end to where “Deidre Thornell” gets lost in the mix, so what I believe you hear now is a balanced combination of Americana meets country/rock for me.
PC: You have a music video for “Black Widow” set for release on February 24th, which was also your first music video. How much did you enjoy shooting the video and adding another layer to the song?
DT: I literally can’t express in words how much fun I had shooting the video for “Black Widow.” It was an experience I won’t soon forget. Can I make music videos like that EVERY DAY? Steve Kinney with Kinney Productions was the producer, editor and creator of the video. I can’t spoil too much, because it releases this Friday, February 24th. I will say I can’t wait for you to see it!
PC: You made your Whiskey Jam debut last week. What was it like to play that kind of legendary event that so many great artists have been a part of?
DT: Legendary would be the word to describe Whiskey Jam performances, always. It feels like one step closer to CMT, one step closer to the Opry, one step closer to Super Bowl National Anthem, one step closer to the next step, wherever and whatever that means for me, things are rolling. I’m so grateful Ward snagged me a spot so close to the release of the song. He really is a stand-up guy, ask ANYONE in Nashville. I love that he takes chances on new up-and-comers. He believes in songwriters, he’s organized, and he has now partnered with the MEGASTAR, Luke Combs. Life in his shoes must be unreal sometimes, but it’s a nice reminder that dreams don’t happen overnight. Whiskey Jam has been around 10 years now, and Ward has made a career out of lifting others up, something we can all strive to do more of.
PC: You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that you recorded a handful of songs with producer Sal Oliveri. What has it been like working with someone who’s had Sal’s level of collective success, and what information, if any, can you give about any more of the songs you recorded with him?
DT: Sal is a strong believer with stead-fast faith and is extremely inspiring to me. He is multi-talented on so many levels. How are there not a million articles on this guy? But in all seriousness, working with him has been a gift.
I don’t want to give too much away because we all know things can change in an instant, but I am very excited for the year ahead with more music in the works. At the moment, two unreleased songs are recorded with Sal Oliveri, and one unreleased song will hopefully be recorded with Dran Michael Lewis very soon. I intend to compliment every song with a music video, hopefully, always better than the last.
2023 is going to be a big year! I’m grateful for having a solid foundation with people I can rely on, guiding me, and who are a phone call away. My daily prayers are asking God to place the right people in my corner as I navigate every twist and turn that comes from following my dream.
PC: Is there anything you’d like to add?
DT: Dran produces primarily out of Dead Bird Studios, right in the heart of Chattanooga, TN. The experience was awesome, and it’s a cute little town. He introduced me to Johnny Smith, who runs the studio and who also played drums on “Black Widow.” There were many laughs, jokes told, stories swapped before we even got started. Dran and Johnny gave me a tour of the studio. I love to nerd out on studio mics, though I barely know a fraction of what there is to know when it comes to high quality production equipment. Dran also had his little pup there as his studio assistant! It was a fun day trip with good people making good music.
I want to let listeners and fans to know that I have giveaway opportunities coming this month and next. To stay in the know, please follow me on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Twitter for updates.
Also, there will be four special drawings this year (spring, summer, fall, winter) for a lucky winner, if you sign up on my email list at www.deidrethornell.com, these winners will be announced via email.
*”Black Widow” is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!*
Awesome song! I’m so honored to have listened to you as a young girl, 10 years old, and to see where you have landed with you’re new single! I’m so proud of you for pushing thru the ups and downs, hard work and never giving up on your DREAM! Congratulations Deidre! Waiting on the next big hit!