Annemarie Picerno - 10 Questions Music Interview
Annemarie Picerno is a Grammy member, Americana Music Association member, and Indie Collaborative Artist. She has won a Josie Music Award, a 2019 The Gran Royale Music Award, and a LDM Radio Award. She has performed in theater, bands in every musical genre, comedy shows, film, radio and television. Some of her songs can be found on the popular Bongo Boy Records albums. She has topped indie radio charts with her powerful voice and harmonies in rock, pop, blues, and American Roots. For her latest single, "Money Pain," Annemarie Picerno has teamed up with renowned Nashville producer Bob McGilpin. Bob McGilpin's first release was 1978's "Superstar" on Butterfly records which became a Billboard hit along with "Sexy Thing" and "When You Feel Love." He had multiple major label record deals with Casablanca, RCA, and Butterfly/MCA and landed three #1 hits on the coveted Billboard Dance Charts.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
As a child, I always wrote poems, stories, and songs, and kept a diary. The diary, of course, was more personal, but as I grew older I began putting my life experiences into songs and my journey as an entertainer and musician. It helped me laugh about situations that initially made me sad, and also became my voice for emotions that a lot of people hide in the commercial radio world. I like to write about opposites in people and life, and you hear a lot of that in my lyrics and storytelling . Some songs are bold, fierce, sad, while others have humor, but they all come from my personal experiences.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
Too many to mention! I might have somewhat of a "reputation" especially back in my younger days! From costume mishaps on live shows to unexpected performances. One time a clumsy dresser backstage lost my wig in the dark. I was late coming in to sing onstage with 2 other women, and after he plopped the found wig on my head I made my entrance while the 2 performers sang at me with appalled looks on their faces. It turns out the dresser had put the wig on backwards , so the bangs were in back looking very short, and the back of the wig long in front. Another time I was tap dancing frenetically in a Cole Porter review, and the back of my bra clasp popped open. While not exposing me, the bra flaps were hanging out the sides of my arm holes so it was pretty obvious! I still am a killer tap dancer might I add! Lol
What has been the high point of your music path? In 2018 I became a Grammy member as an independent artist, and I was very proud of that moment. I've also had my music accepted on the first ballot for the 61st and 62nd Grammy Awards . I was awarded a Josie Music Award for Best Musical Collaboration for my ensemble American Roots Song "Bonfire" along with winning in Country at The Gran Royale Music Awards and LDM Radio Awards along with many Top 40 Indie Radio charts over the years. Each recognition solidifies that people are listening and that I am establishing my own brand of music.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
I write my ideas on notepad and always try to incorporate the 5 senses in the lyrics and a point of view. A lot of people write in their own perspective, but I have found from my theater background that it can be a character or other opinion that shapes the flavor of the interpretation. When it comes to the sounds of the music, I love to use acoustics, guitar, mandolin, banjo, dobro and rhythmic bass moving in and out of 2-3 musical themes. I also love harmonies, so by the time I have added these layers to lyrics with metaphorical meanings a song becomes a full composition.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be? Money and legitimate professional opportunities always challenge an Indie artist. However, we are resourceful and smart, as many of us handle our own promotion, social media, and bookings. We compete against major labels with huge budgets, but we have a very strong voice in the music scene. Sometimes, I see Nashville companies take notice of what I am doing, or ask who runs my business etc. When I say it's just me, they are surprised and say I might teach them a few things! I self release all my original music, but also have select releases on Bongo Boy Records, which is an independent label that helps with promotion, distribution, and Monique Grimme at the label encourages you to shape your own artistic path. Finding people like this and businesses that support you and your music is key to getting your music heard, as the industry can be full of sharks. There are some great resources out there that teach about the business, along with organizations like the Indie Collaborative that offer a support system for artists needing support and guidance. Be willing to learn, read, research, and do the work!
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why? I'm not sure of the band as I like many, but to sing on the legendary Grand Ole Opry with my original music would be a highlight. And if Dolly Parton or Vince Gill would like to join me, well, I'm not going to say no!
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show? I went to a college when I first started performing that was extremely meticulous. Every detail from voice, acting, dance, music theory, stage movement was covered by these professors that forever changed my life. You must rehearse and have clear vision for a performance You must listen to the song in the pockets, and play off of your fellow musicians. My songs have a lot of rhythm changes or unexpected notes that aren't formula, so I can tell if someone hasn't rehearsed after they've been sent a chart and recording. That's what you call a hired gun, and I prefer working with artists that have the dedication and professionalism to learn their parts. I like to stay focused before a performance, and always warm up and give it my best. Most people comment that they had no idea of my energy in a live performance as I may be serious and quiet before hitting the stage. Then, once I start singing, that energy and power can capture the listener.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
I'd say 'Bonfire" was not only a challenge but an inspiration to come out of a dark period. I had an accident, several broken bones, and surgeries, and my great friend and artist Lisa Coppola encouraged me to get in the studio after I sent her a demo . The song was suggested by another great friend Gene DiPierro of Hamilton Radio who suggested indie artists collaborating together to inspire people. Once I began writing the lyrics, the creative inspiration flowed, and I asked several other talented artists to join me. Lisa Coppola, Jimmy Parker, Donna Jo, Steve Owen, Benny Pitsinger, and my producer Bob McGilpin all contributed their talents to this award winning song, and the process was natural, fun, and solidified our musical friendships as well.
What's coming up in the future?
Money Pain has just been released in stores April 3, 2020 and my producer and duet partner Bob McGilpin and myself plan on completing a music video that we want to air on Bongo Boy TV. The current health and economic crisis has challenged us as well as many musicians to find ways to still collaborate and create, when we are in a lockdown at the moment. Overcoming challenges are 2nd nature to me, so I have a few plans to think outside the box and still complete the music video without us all being able to meet in person. I have released some promo clips that have been well received, because I like to be a little daring and humorous in the performances, instead of the typical commercial lip sync crap formula.
I have been releasing singles over the last 3 years, but they all will be included on one album in the future called "Songs From Nashville" and have plans for a stage show. The show will be a huge project with a story and cast of characters, and I hope to produce it in Nashville. Besides that, I am always writing new material, along with contributing some background vocals to a song being released by pop rock star Sharon Lia, who has a beautiful song she wrote called "The Sum Of Us" My producer , Bob McGilpin and I have a great working relationship and plan to make more music videos and songs as we're having a lot of fun on "Money Pain!"
Tell us where fans can access your music?
All my social media links can be found at the top of my official website and you may also find a few hidden gems by Googling my name Annemarie Picerno!