In this week’s COREnered, we trade verses with Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Gretchen Peters. Peters’s gift for flawlessly merging notes and lyrics results in stories that continue to touch fans and fellow artists around the world. Read on to find out about her unusual dream collaboration, and why she considers music her “comfort food.”
- What is your first musical memory?
The sounds of Django Rheinhardt and Ella Fitzgerald mixed with the sound of ice rattling in cocktail glasses. My parents played jazz at their New York cocktail parties and I think it seeped into my DNA; it’s like comfort food to me. But it was my sister’s record collection that really captivated me at age 7 or 8⎯⎯Bob Dylan, Tim Hardin, Jefferson Airplane.
- What was the first concert you ever went to?
The Grateful Dead, Folsom Field, Boulder, Colorado, 1973. My mom bought 2 tickets for my older sister to take me. She knew not what she did.
- What or whom do you go to for musical inspiration?
Live music, above all. There is not, nor will there ever be a substitute for seeing and hearing magic made out of thin air. It’s pure alchemy. We can rearrange digital information all we want but there is something basic and primal about the interaction between a musician and his or her audience. It’s a kind of communion.
- Without using the words “alternative,” “pop,” or “rock,” describe your sound.
Gentle and slightly sad. Hushed. Bittersweet. Intimate.
- Stones or Beatles?
Beatles. The Beatles are responsible for my not beginning my songwriting career earlier. Their songs are so elemental that it didn’t occur to me that real mortals wrote songs. They seemed to me to be eternal. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I figured out real people wrote songs.
- What’s your dream collaboration?
Singing with Leonard Cohen. This may sound strange, as most people would probably say “writing with Leonard Cohen.” But as a mostly solo writer, I understand why Leonard Cohen writes alone, and god knows he doesn’t need my help. And I happen to find his voice incredibly compelling. Full of gravitas. I think I could complement that gravelly instrument. It would also give me the chance to try to convey to him how much his songs have meant to me. He’s our greatest living songwriter.
- Do you find the song or does the song find you?
The song finds me. The song is the source of all things, including the knowledge of how best to sing it. A truly great song will, over time, reveal the mysteries that it contains, and your singing of it will continue to grow and evolve over years.
- How do you discover new music?
My friends and my fans⎯both tend to be rabid music lovers, and like me, they can’t wait to tell everyone about their newest discoveries.
To learn more about Gretchen check out her website: www.gretchenpeters.com