Maggie Rose has never pursued music for the money or the glory. To her, it’s a calling.
And chasing dreams has made her a rising master of reinvention. In 2009, she was introduced to the mainstream as Margaret Durante with a cover of Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody” as her debut single. In 2011, she dropped the name, cut her hair, went platinum and resurfaced as Maggie Rose.
In 2012, “I Ain’t Your Mama” from Cut to Impress was country radio’s most-heard single by an independent female artist. The singles and the EPs she’s released since have shown that she can sing anything and sing it well.
When fans hear her latest EP, More Dreams > Dollars, she hopes it’s reflective of the Nashville that has shaped her craft for the last decade. She partnered with producer and hit-maker Jimmy Robbins for the latest project and as an independent artist, she has a newfound freedom in releasing music as she creates it.
“It’s my interpretation of country and all the elements that brought me to Nashville in the first place, which is lyrical substance,” she said of the new EP during our CMT.com interview. “The title track really represents this stage of my life right now with being independent, being hungry, but being fueled by my dreams and my dedication to my craft and to myself. And it’s for everyone who’s grinding it out.
“I meet so many people who are doing this not because anyone is telling them to. It’s because they have a calling,” she added. “And there’s something really glamorous about that to me. It’s not the typical things that you would expect to be associated with glamour.
“But it’s about that period of time in anyone’s life where you make sacrifices to do what you think is the best that you can do, and what plays to your strengths. ‘More Dreams Than Dollars’ encapsulated the entire project because this is the most natural thing for me to do is to put music out and create. Even if it’s on a budget, I’m going to make sure it’s damn good.”
Our conversation took place at Starstruck Entertainment, where her career and the careers of others including Kelly Clarkson and Blake Shelton are managed. Stone ponies stand frozen over a babbling brook that cuts through a gorgeous courtyard outside the window.
CMT.com: It’s crazy to think how chasing dreams has got you to an office building such as this.
Rose: I think that’s why they made this building the way they did- – to inspire — but I also love writing in the old refurbished houses on Music Row, too. I don’t feel like I attribute a lot of meaning to the physical places I have been throughout my journey because it’s changed. The infrastructure around me has changed a lot.
It’s safe to say that every change I’ve made from label to management to whatever has been tragic in the sense that it sort of just fell apart around me. But a lot of people are like, “You’ve had every reason to close the door and turn your back on what you’ve been doing.” And I’m like, “Who would that serve?” But everyone has contributed something to my growth and to where I am now.
All the music icons I look up to have done all kinds of jobs, too. They just show up.
That’s been my mantra lately. That’s just how you have to be — being self-sufficient and not letting the place or the people around you define you. I really do feel like what I’ve been doing is very self-made. And Austin, my husband and manager, is an amazing contributor to that. I feel really at home here. But I feel like everything points back to my belief in this music. This is my favorite thing I’ve ever put out, and I feel like it’s my most me and obviously that would go without saying given that this is the most involvement that I’ve ever been allowed to have in my own project.
“Body on Fire” is electric.
It’s got more sensuality to it. It’s a song that I hope men and women hear and I feel like they can embrace in more of a sensual thing. It’s supposed to be a love song that just really talks about desire. I keep saying this, but I’m a grown woman and it’s time to release a song about love in exactly the way it means to me right now in my life. And it sort of felt like a ballad at first, but then musically we played with some percussion elements to it to help it slowly build.
How long have you lived in Nashville now?
It will be 10 years in January. I love waking up in a city where I know there are thousands of other people in writing rooms all over town trying to write the best song they can. It fires me up. It doesn’t make me discouraged. People want to grow. We’re not complacent, and when I first moved here, I thought there was a little bit of that. But the new Nashville is not. I think people are yearning to expand and it’s the best time to be here.
And people are consuming more now more than they’ve ever had before. As far as releasing songs EP by EP, I see more artists are participating in the direct-to-fans market. As a fan, there’s so much stuff.
But doesn’t it help you understand artists as being more multi-dimensional when you don’t have one single to represent them for an entire year?
Just because people are releasing music, the fans who are late to the game are just now listening to that single, and that’s how they will understand you. So it’s nice to be able to show a lot of notes of your personality and not be so precious with a song, and let it be more of a dialogue.
To be totally candid, there was a time in my career early on where I was paralyzed by waiting to be told what to do and how to move forward. But I’ve been totally empowered by the way I’ve been able to make music lately, which is not waiting for somebody to figure out what to do with me, what the best marketing plan is or asking me to just describe my style or brand in three words. I understand that for marketing purposes. Of course, you want to have a sense of who you are, but I think I have a strong sense of who I am and that’s many things.
I think being committed to one idea and one way of getting music out there is never the right way to go either.
We can’t ever get too comfortable with one way. You should be ready to move and be fluid with it.
Maggie Rose will be on tour throughout the summer. She joins Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s Soul2Soul tour for three shows in August.