Tim: Hey Deana – thanks for taking the time to interview with us. I bet you have a pretty busy schedule right now, since you just released your new album “Southern Way of Life”.
Deana: Oh yeah it is.
Tim: How many interviews are you doing a day?
Deana: Honestly, it’s not too crazy. It’s just that I am in between having to write for a Nashville show, and traveling, and being a mom – I’ve got football practice this afternoon. (Laughs) it’s like, “Who am I?,…Where am I?” (laughs again)
Tim: You just need to figure out how to clone yourself!
Deana: I know. Absolutely. I don’t think anybody could handle THAT.
Tim: Congratulations on the new album!
Deana: Thank you!
Tim: Do you have a personal favorite song on the new album?
Deana: It’s so hard to pick one, as a co-writer and a producer. I love them all for different reasons. It’s such a grueling process to even pick the songs that you are going to put on it. I loved to co-write with Kimberly Perry (from The Band Perry) and Kasey Musgraves, and people who are just getting started and didn’t have a deal yet. Those experiences with those girls was just amazing. And, there’s a song about my dad. It’s just like a combo – there is so much life and gratitude it’s hard to choose.
Tim: Were a lot of the songs autobiographical, just based on personal experiences?
Deana: Oh yeah, absolutely. I’ve always done that on all of my records. It’s always been very personal, very real. It’s very cathartic to be able to sing through what you are going through. I’m so blown away and grateful that I get to do that.
Tim: I know this is the first album in a while for you. How long has it been?
Deana: Six years, I think?
Tim: Wow. Did you just sort of take off for a while.
Deana: Oh gosh (laughs) I wish I could have just taken off, and gone to Kenny Chesney’s Island and just hung out. Basically, just, my son got into school and preschool kindergarten, and I just had to pull back. I’ve still been doing shows, and obviously I am doing a lot more shows this year. I’ve been writing a whole lot of songs. But everything was a lot more under the radar than in front of everybody. I had to pull back from promoting me, me, me because my focus shifted to being a mom, and focusing on my son and what’s best for him.
Tim: You know when you look back at your life in 20 years, you’re going to be so glad you did that, I am sure.
Deana: I hope so. I tell you what - I know I make mistakes every day and I pray about it. At the same time, I KNOW it will be better than if I had just forged ahead and tried to have a career.
Tim: Is there anything that you can think of that is “different” about this album, compared to previous albums?
Deana: Well one beautiful thing is having it on my own label, Little Nugget. Having social media and doing promos through that, and having a great team. We’re really a family and just chug along together. That’s been amazing. It also gave me a lot of gratitude for the big labels and all that work and money they have put behind me for all of the years. That’s the biggest thing. The next thing would just be the amount of song writing I’ve been able to do in the last couple of years is very similar to my first record, because I’ve been able to focus on that like I did the first time. So, it’s kind of like a more seasoned version of my first album I think.
Tim: I love the lyrics to your song “Do or Die”, What was the inspiration for that song?
Deana: Well, honestly it came to a point where I was a single mom, and living in Hollywood, and life was kind of foggy for me. Like, what is going to happen? I’ve got this career that I had a lot of success at, but it’s kind of waning, and I’ve got this little child that is looking to me to take care of him. You know, it was just like an assessment, and really getting into my prayer time and asking God to help guide me. Like, what’s going to happen to us – are we done or are we going to keep going? The message was you just really do what you have to do, to do what you are HERE to do. I sat, literally, on my kitchen floor with my guitar after my devotion time and I just sang out how I was feeling. And the second verse is about what Jesus went through in His life. You know, He did what He had to do, because that’s what He was HERE to do. That’s why He is in the second verse.
Tim: Has faith become a lot more important in your life through the years?
Deana: (with emphasis) Absolutely! And you know the thing about it is when we’re running full-steam ahead and life is going by and we think we’ve got it all covered, we don’t look to God – we don’t think we need God. It’s sad but it’s true. We all do that. And I think that he gives us enough rope – He never lets go – but He’ll give us enough rope to where we’re like “bungeeing “ almost to the quicksand, you know. And then you cry out for help and you get closer, and you start realizing how much help you need. Getting pregnant with my son was a definite wake up call for me that I needed God – that I needed more than what I was able do myself.
Tim: On July 17th, you are coming to Bremen, Georgia at Mill Town Music Hall to perform in The Heart Behind the Music. Have you done any shows like that before, and what will that show be like, compared to a normal concert?
Deana: Well, the fun thing is that it is in the round, and there are artists that I haven’t seen in years, so you get to check up, you get to re-saturate yourself with talented people that you miss. It’s such a great reminder of how we are all unique and all have a lot to offer. It’s just really, really fun! I am so grateful to be a part of it. And they included me in quite a few of these events that they are having because I am able to sit on a stool and play guitar and tell a story about songs I have written. It’s a fun evening to be a part of. And to do it in the South – I can’t wait. One of my dearest friends has family that lives right near Bremen so they are coming.
Tim: The Mill Town Music Hall is building a Harold Shedd Museum right next door as well. Harold Shedd is from Bremen.
Deana: Oh My Gosh! I didn’t even know that! I love Harold!
Tim: What is your favorite song of all-time, including yours and those recorded by others?
Deana: Oh my gosh! Favorite song of all time – that’s a tough one. For myself, obviously “Strawberry Wine” would have to be high on the list because I probably wouldn’t have a career without a breakout (song). That song has become legendary. At the time it was a great song that cut through, but it has, over the years, stayed and become legendary. So to be a part of that is incredible. I’m speechless to think that I am a part of something like that. There are so many great writers and great songs. I go to the unheralded people in a way like David Gates and Bread, back in the 70’s , you know, that “make-out” rock with great beautiful melodies, and incredibly heart-wrenching lyrics. I kind of cut my teeth on that kind of music. And Simon and Garfunkel. I was really exposed more, honestly, to the song-writer, folk-rock because of who my dad worked with, and because of what I liked as a tweeny, pre-teen young woman. I was into that kind of sappy, lovey-dovey kind of stuff. And loud guitar riffs – I was crazy over great guitar art.
Dylan: I have a question for you. Do you remember where you were when you first heard Strawberry Wine on the radio?
Deana: It’s funny because I have probably answered this question differently over the years, but if I remember, because it was a long time ago, I want to say I was in my car driving home when I heard it. I just kind of pulled over, and boo-hood, and freaked out and couldn’t believe it. I mean we did tons of radio promos so I would hear it on the radio at the station, but as far as getting caught off guard and seeing that I didn’t have to MAKE somebody play it (laughs) it was definitely in my car driving home.
Dylan: Have you found it difficult to be a Christian in the music industry – is that a tough thing?
Deana: Well it’s funny because I was baptized when I was 7. I was young but I was so committed to that, but then, like a lot of people, something went down with me in the church that broke my heart, and I really walked away from church for like 20 years. I thought that I could handle it on my own, and that I had this religious thing covered and all that. And God, like I said, he’s just been gracious with me, and I have always prayed to Him – I’ve never like believed in another god or anything like that, I’ve always been a Jesus person, BUT I did seek out other stuff. I think now, I’ve been through so much, and God has been so faithful that I am finally trusting Him enough that I am talking about it more. I think I’ve been through so many things in my life that I want to verbalize how faithful God has been to me – just that is something that everybody needs to be encouraged by. I don’t think beating people over the head with “you need to accept Jesus or you’re going to Hell” is a very kind way to reach people. For me it’s like “Talk to God about it”. Everything is like, “That’s between you and God and you need to talk to Him about it, and He will deal with you”. But, it’s not easy. I mean still like to have a glass of wine. It can be precarious because of the religiosity of it, but it is basically what is in your heart and how you set an example. So, I am not going be drunk and inappropriate, but at the same time, I’m not going to be legalistic and restricted either.
Dylan: I listened to your new album today and I LOVED it. I was just wondering, of the ten songs on it, is there one song that would give someone who had never heard your music the best impression of what you are about as an artist?
Deana: WOW – That’s a great question – that’s a tough question. When you’re sequencing an album, you want people to feel you. I do as an artist and a producer. Sequencing means everything. It’s like getting a massage or riding a roller coaster. You don’t just go out the gate. You kind of work your way into it, and then it’s a great experience. I mean I would probably pick the middle song. “I’ll Save My Love for You” might be a sleeper on the record. It’s about how it’s never too late to have a white wedding – that’s one. “Southern Way of Life” has a sense of humor, so that’s a side of me. There’s also the real rebellious “I Don’t Want To” which is like, I know I’m supposed to love you but you screwed me over, and I’m mad and I don’t want to love you, but I’m trying to walk through what I am supposed to do . There’s all kinds of me all over that record. So I don’t know, I guess I would just pick like 1, 5 and 10 .
Tim: Thanks so much we really appreciate you taking the time to talk with us and we really enjoyed it.
Deana: Oh my gosh. I am so grateful. Thank you for taking the time. You know it’s interesting doing all these interviews because I’ll still sit here and go like “Who am I”? And who I am, is somebody that – I’ve been through a lot and I don’t want people to feel like they are going through it alone. If I can be encouraging in any way, that’s the point.
Dylan: Yeah – I really appreciate your transparency. I’ve noticed that. You’re a real person and it’s awesome.
Deana: Well thank you. I appreciate it. We look forward to being there. We’ve got a couple of months, but it will be fun.