Loretta Hagen - 10 Questions Interview
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
My father was a musician. He played the sax in big bands in his day. He also played the accordion and harmonica. He encouraged me to take music lessons when I showed an interest as a kid. I started guitar lessons at 9 yrs old and voice lessons at 12. I also have a cousin who used to write songs. He was a big influence on me too.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
Well, there were a few but, the one that stands out is when my band performed at a promo gig for a NYC radio station, WYNY. They had us set up right near the pumps. So, people would drive up right in front of us as we sang and played outside their car windows! It was very weird, definitely crazy!
What has been the high point of your music path?
I have been fortunate to have many high points but, the most important music event in my life was performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC at the National Alzheimer’s Association’s Public Policy Forum. I wrote a song called Sundown Till Dawn, about my mother’s struggle with the disease. It was a very emotional event. I was invited to perform the song and it meant so much to me to honor my mother there. It is a day I will always cherish.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
I usually write about events that I feel passionate about. Events in my personal life as well as those in my community and the world. Most of the time I will have some words and music going round in my head at the same time. I will record them on my phone, then work out the lyrics on a writing pad. I will “live” in that song for as long as it takes to finish it, sometimes weeks or months, or sometimes I will leave it alone and come back to it later, with fresh ears.
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?
The challenge we are facing now is the closing of venues or venues who are struggling to keep their doors open since the Covid 19 Pandemic hit. It hit our industry hard. Musicians, artists, sound engineers etc. have lost gigs and are not sure when the next one will be booked. The uncertainty has been such a struggle. We don’t only depend on gigs for the money, we also have a deep need to connect with a live audience. I have to have faith that things will open up again, hopefully sooner than expected.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
This is a tough one because there are many. I will narrow my choices to Bonnie Raitt, Karla Bonoff and Mary Chapin Carpenter. I have always loved their music.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
We rehearse before a show, especially if there are new songs in the set list. We will work those out and then go over anything else that we might need to. After, we usually order pizza!
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
I think one song that was a challenge was another that I wrote about my mother, after she passed away. It is called You Were Brave, from the Lucky Stars album. I never perform the song live, probably never will because it is too hard for me to get through it, too emotional but, it was a song I needed to write to help me get through the grieving process.
What's coming up in the future?
I am in the process of recording a new album. It will follow the single Not Now, that will be released on April 1st. We have some outdoor shows booked in Spring and Summer, I will share details on my website and social media as soon as the details are confirmed. Can’t wait to get out and play again!!
Tell us where fans can access your music?
Fans can find me on my website at Lorettahagen.com
and can purchase my music on CDbaby.com
About Loretta Hagen
Reviewers describe award-winning singer-songwriter, Loretta Hagen, as ‘heart driven, soul-filling, Folk Americana.‘ With 4 critically acclaimed CDs to her credit, Loretta’s rich alto voice and strong songwriting skills have led her to win many awards, including a JAM Awards’ (Jersey Acoustic Music Awards) “Top Female Songwriter of the Year,” JAM nomination for “Album of the Year,” winner of the NJ Folk Festival Songwriter Competition and 2-time designation as a CT Folk Festival finalist. In every life, there are inevitable times of darkness and light. Loretta Hagen's fourth CD "Lucky Stars," takes the listener on a personal journey through loss, healing, and ultimately the promise of hope.
Four years in the making, "Lucky Stars" brings Loretta's journey full circle, when faced with the heartache of illness, death, and going on without loved ones so cherished. She finds solace in the promise of new beginnings, love, and the inherent knowledge that our Lucky Stars are watching over us. Loretta's third CD, “Mud and Stone,” well received by DJs worldwide, debuted at #10 on Folk DJ Charts, consistently #1 on the Roots Music Report for NJ, #5 Top 50 Folk Albums RMR, and topped many best-of lists.
Five years later the album is still going strong, recently receiving 4 nominations for the Just Plain Folk Awards with awards being announced late fall 2017. "This effort [Mud and Stone] is first class, top tier, a true contender as an artist to reckon with." John Apice ~ No Depression Following her critically acclaimed CD Something More, co-produced by Pat McInerney (Nanci Griffith), Hagen released Sundown Till Dawn, a CD that garnered rave reviews and radio play across the country. Sundown Till Dawn is extremely personal, with the title track written about her mother who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Loretta’s Mom passed away peacefully at her home. The emotionally charged ballad is included on the soundtrack of a film called “10 Mountains 10 Years” chronicling the journey of a group of mountain climbers who are raising awareness about the disease.
Loretta has performed at premier venues across the Northeast and Nashville, sharing the stage with Pete Seeger, Roger McGuinn, Sloan Wainwright, Steve Forbert, Richie Havens, Kim Richey, and Marshall Crenshaw among many others. Loretta performs primarily with her trio consisting of husband/guitarist Gary Hagen and djembe players Linda Lambiase or Curtis Kretz.