I can’t remember the first time I heard Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Meghann Wright. Maybe it was during my time writing for the now-shuttered punk magazine AMP. I remember being struck by her soulful voice, relatable songs and her aura of self-confidence. So on Friday, Aug. 31 at 9:30 p.m., I am really looking forward to sharing a bill with her at The Anchor on 744 Broadway after knowing one another in just cyberspace for years. It is my first full solo set in several years and we both are opening for Globelamp. From country-fied indie to emotional pop-infused folk to the occasional tear-jerker of a Jawbreaker cover, Wright is an effortless epicenter of creativity — check out her music at meghannwright.bandcamp.com. I personally invited her upstate to play because I know a lot of you will love her and I also wanted an excuse to pick her interesting, well-traveled brain.
Morgan Y. Evans: Have you ever been to the Hudson Valley before?
Meghann Wright: Yes! I played with my band at a pizza place in Poughkeepsie several years ago.
MYE: Where are you from originally and what initially got you started playing music?
MW: I’m from Hawaii. I grew up there and left when I finished high school to move to the East Coast and get involved in music and film and television. I have always played music as long as I remember from singing my first song — Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” — when I was two years old in the back of my parents’ car. My dad loves rock and roll and started taking me to concerts when I was six. My mom sang opera and played piano and flute and often performed in Hawaii. I played piano, violin, and saxophone growing up, then taught myself guitar and bass in college so I could join metal, hardcore, and rock bands with my friends. I didn’t actually start singing seriously until 2009. I moved to New York City to start my own music project, initially a solo singer-songwriter effort that evolved into a nationally touring band with friends from New York City.
MYE: You played Warped Tour a few years ago. Were you sad to see it end this year?
MW: I wouldn’t say I’m sad. I think a lot of us from the early days of that era — I was a fan of ska, punk, and emo bands in the ’90s — felt that it had sort of lost its flair in the mid 2000s. However I do think that kids got a lot out of it, and Kevin Lyman often gave new bands a chance to make new fans, including myself! He also made it a point to diversify the tour package, bringing along EDM artists, Americana/folk artists, and more, which made for an eclectic buffet for kids in their teens who wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity to discover that type of music otherwise. I also know that a lot of folks on the business and production side of the industry got their start on that tour and have gone on to contribute a great deal to the field.
MYE: As a songwriter and performer you come off as a real person. Do you think people are more or less afraid to be themselves these days?
MW: I actually think that now more than ever people are being encouraged to “be themselves” from so many different angles. The advent of the blog, vlog and social media platforms give so many people a voice they never would have had in the analog days. I think when you’re young “being yourself” is hard to grasp because you are still learning so much about what that means and what the world is all about. Every one is unique but there is also so much that makes us the same — family issues, mental health, education, where we live, food, music, politics. We all have our own perception of how these things affect us and how we can affect these things, but ultimately we’re all just one big megaorganism trying to work together to survive.
MYE: You’ve donated to Transgender Law Center before or helped Safe Horizon. Organized compilations. What made you get into activism? How rewarding have The City and The Heart compilations been to put together and where’d the idea come from?
MW: I’ve always believed in fighting for people who need help, for positive change, since I was a kid. I was the first person to bring a same-sex partner to my prom in high school in Hawaii back in 2000, so LGBTQ+ rights are close to home for me. I also believe in helping people who are down and out – victims of violence, kids, people in poverty just struggling to survive. My family was never well-off but we always gave whenever we could. The idea for TC&TH actually started as more of a fundraiser for indie female-identifying singer-songwriters to make a compilation album. When we realized we could sustain an annual release and donate the proceeds of sales and downloads, we thought what better way to give back than to an organization that helps women in need. So we decided on Safe Horizon.
MYE: Are you writing new material these days or been dealing with life stuff?
MW: I actually started writing again about 6 months ago and ended up recording a new song at my friend and erstwhile bassist Eva Lawitts’ Wonderpark Studio in Brooklyn. It’s called “ExKids” and I wrote it about the many ways we are failing our kids in America — lack of gun control, the opioid crisis, the horrors of family separation and keeping kids in detention centers at our borders, mental health stigma and more. I cried a lot while writing it because I truly fear for the safety and happiness of my 18-month-old son and all of the kids in this country as they grow up in this kind of world.