Songcraft: Spotlight on Songwriters Podcast

Alice Randall

Ep. 126 - Alice Randall  

"An American Girl" - A Hit-Making History Maker


The guys chat about why Paul has been M.I.A. and announce a new contest for a personalized signed copy of Lamont Dozier's new autobiography.

PART TWO - 7:13 mark
Scott sits down for an in-depth conversation with Alice Randall in Nashville.

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Scott gets together with Alice Randall in Nashville to find out why her dad was so driven to highlight women's contributions to music; how she concluded that country lyrics are the modern day equivalent of metaphysical poetry and 17th Century Puritan sermons; the encouragement she received from Hal David; why she spent hours studying lyrics in the basement of the Country Music Hall of Fame; the reason that Steve Earle cussed her out; why it's harder to be a woman in country music than to be black; and her theory that country music should be defined as three chords and four specific truths.

Alice Randall is a Harvard-educated African-American novelist who lives in Nashville and writes country songs. Along with Matraca Berg, Alice co-wrote Trisha Yearwood’s chart-topping single “XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl),” making her the first—and, so far, only—African-American woman to write a #1 country hit. Additionally, she co-wrote Mo Bandy’s Top 40 hit “Many Mansions,” as well as Judy Rodman’s “Girls Ride Horses, Too,” which was the first Top 10 written by either Alice or her co-writer, future Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer Mark D. Sanders.

After forming an early songwriting partnership with Steve Earle, Alice went on to have her songs recorded by a long list of artists, including Holly Dunn, Marie Osmond, Glen Campbell, Jo-El Sonnier, Walter Hyatt, Pat Alger, Matraca Berg, Radney Foster, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Crystal Gayle, and Hank Thompson. Along with Mark O’Connor and Harry Stinson she wrote the groundbreaking “Ballad of Sally Anne.”

Alice is a New York Times Bestselling novelist who has authored The Wind Done Gone, Pushkin and the Queen of Spades, Rebel Yell, Ada's Rules, and the forthcoming Black Bottom Saints, which is partially inspired by her formative years in Detroit. In addition to her fiction writing, Alice teamed with her daughter, Caroline Randall Williams, to write Soul Food Love: Healthy Recipes Inspired by One Hundred Years of Cooking in a Black Family. She is currently a Writer-in-Residence at Vanderbilt University where she teaches a number of courses, including Country Lyric in American Culture. She was featured in Ken Burns’ acclaimed Country Music documentary spotlighting the often-overlooked contributions of African Americans to the genre’s development. Not only does she write songs, but Randall thinks deeply about, and is deeply moved by, the literary value of song lyrics.   

Songcraft's Alice Randall
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