The goal for most artists who move to Nashville for music is to find forever creative partners who bring out their best work. Margo Price counts herself as one of the lucky few who has discovered that connection in her husband, Jeremy Ivey.
Leading up to our CMT.com interview, Ivey and Price had spent the morning together at their kitchen table going over potential music for a follow-up to her sophomore album, All American Made. She says he was the first artist to believe in her work.
As a couple, they’ve weathered tribulations that would have wrecked the most solid marriages. Price is connected with mothers everywhere who’ve lost children after their son Ezra died in 2010, just two weeks after she gave birth to him and his twin brother, Judah. Then they have experienced the rejection that every musician encounters in their rise to prominence. Before breaking out with her 2016 major label debut Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, she was forced to sell her car, and she pawned her wedding ring to afford studio time. But they have never caved to self-doubt, or the tests life threw their way.
“Getting rejected [in the music industry] for so long really tested our relationship in many ways,” Price says. “We’ve seen so many of our peers give up because it’s hard to keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome. They say that’s the definition of insanity. But he’s always believed in me, and I always believed in him. Our songs really kept us together.
“We’ve been married now for 10 years, and I think it’s a 50% divorce rate for anybody. When you add on losing a child, there’s not a lot of people who will make it through that.”
Rejection is also why she supports women behind the scenes. In the hours leading up to each performance on her three-night run at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium last May, her stage crawled with an all-female crew testing equipment and instruments. Hiring covens of women to make her career move is essential to Price to show other rising female music professionals that they have viable futures in music.
“I think that for so long women have been put against each other,” she says. “Instead of it being a competition, we should support each other. I’m trying to bring out more opening acts who are women, too, because I know how hard it is.
“A lot of people think a bill with two women is not going to sell as many tickets. It’s just not true. I wanted Lily Hiatt to come out with me. She’s an amazing writer and performer.
“I hope to encourage more girls to get out and follow this crazy dream, even if you’re not getting the same radio play, even if you’re not getting the same pay, even if you’re not getting the same festival billing, there is still a way to make a living at it. And it’s a lot of hard work, but it’s rewarding.”
Sharing life in music with Ivey has brought to life some of Price’s signature songs including the All American Made title track, a song they co-wrote during the Obama administration.
“That kind of dates it to tell you how long it’s been around,” Price recalls. “We just had the theme, and I started to think about my childhood in the ‘80s and where I grew up. We incorporated all the other things that I love about our country –the romantic idea of driving west, also the power struggle in government and the people who make it run.
“One of the things we wanted to show was no matter what side of the fence you’re on, whether you’re on the left or the right, we’re all still people. We’re all here trying to raise our kids and go to work. We all want the same things, but there are a lot of different ways you can get there.”
Price is nominated for best new artist at the 61st annual Grammy Awards. The ceremony is Feb. 10 in Los Angeles.