The upcoming episode of Proud Radio with Hunter Kelly, which premieres this Sunday, October 30, features Amy Ray of Indigo Girls and the Amy Ray Band—and we’ve got an advance taste for you! Amy joins Hunter to talk about her activism throughout the years and her latest album, If It All Goes South.
Here are some key moments in the show…
Amy Ray on writing her album, If It All Goes South
Some of [the songs], I wrote during that shutdown time and I wanted to talk about healing and put it out there, but also talk about racism a little bit, but just also talk about love. I wanted to tell people you’re not alone basically. You’ve got allies, whether it be someone that’s just lonely for friends, or on the road and missing people, or having a tough time at work or whatever. I just felt like this is a time when we need to hear, we need to learn, but we also need to sometimes not feel just that constant didactic message about all our shortcomings. But we have a lot of them, so it’s hard to keep the balance.
Amy Ray on Being an Activist and Leading with Love
I’ll be honest with you. It’s easier for me to speak up through song. I’ll say that because I feel a certain armor to art, and I can say it with that armor on really easily. I still am tripped up by speaking up one on one to my neighbors, or speaking at an event in my community where I know the crowd like a benefit or something where I know the crowd is very mixed and I’m not exactly their favorite person, but I’m raising money for the high school band. How do I? So I struggle with that.
But I have mentors in my community that are gay. I have a gay man who is actually the father of my child and he’s mastered this art of like… He’s lived as an openly gay man in my community since his college years or whatever. He’s in his fifties and he just leads with love. Okay? So he doesn’t compromise what he’s going to say, but he figures out a way to say it leading with love and not assuming that people are going to disagree, and not assume that people don’t like you, and not assume that everything about that person. And then also be willing to listen to what they say, even if it just burned you up. Because those are the rules that I try to remember, because I really want to hear where people are coming from. I mean, I grew up in a family with especially a father that felt very differently than I do about most things, but was really smart and I respected him a lot and he taught me to love nature and stuff. But we were different.
I just had to learn to have some filters, and also I’m a middle child, a little bit of a peacemaker, so I am like, “Rah, rah, rah. Activism.” But I’ve also had this part of me that’s very into making peace and trying to figure out a way to hear what everybody has to say. I think you have to go through that extreme though that you go through, where you have to go through that period where you’re just like, “I’m just going to say everything. I don’t care what people think.” And then you have to come on the other side of it and learn how to come back too. I believe that. I believe it’s an exercise in finding your corners, and your boundaries and everything. But I think leading with love, and I mean in the core of yourself, you got to really work at it. You know what I mean? Because some people are just jerks and you want to hate them, but then you get to know them a little bit and you’re like, “Oh, this is why they act this way and this is where they’re coming from.” It’s always fear.
Amy Ray on the Importance of Rita Houston and Working with Brandi Carlile
Rita Houston was one of the most successful DJs of the non-com world for being a maverick and just completely mixing it up on WFUV, and creating this space where people who were doing something that wouldn’t always be poppy or commercially accessible in a hardcore radio way, a mainstream radio way. She gave us a space. She gave queer people a space to really just be themselves and play their music. It wasn’t about, “I’m going to play some queer music.” It was just like, “I see you. I get you. I know you’re a songwriter, I’m going to play the music.” It’s like this just… honoring of the musician and the artist that was really incredible and extended to a very large community of people.
Just mainly to me, the thing that sticks out about her, she was always a risk taker and played tracks that other people wouldn’t. And sometimes that was Indigo Girls. Sometimes it was Brandi [Carlile] in the very beginning, or Matt Nathanson, or Mavis Staples, I mean whoever. She was into a lot of different kinds of music. I met her in the nineties and I just loved her. When she passed, I had been close with some of her friends. I would listen to stories about her in the earlier days in New York and their antics. I conflated that with some of my own antics.
Kind of just about my coming through the scene related to her coming through the scene and just the idea of being able to see each other and really see each other. When she was passing and hospicing, the marches were happening in New York, and Black Lives Matter… It was all of that reminded me of the importance of media too like, radio and independent voices. So get out there and spread these messages that are so important that are pro-humanity. And then I asked Brandi to sing on it [“Subway”] because she was one Rita’s favorites, and Brandi’s an old pal of me and Emily, and of mine, and she’s always sung on my solo records. She’s from early on. I’d just get her in there. She’s one of the best harmony singers ever, so she could just put a harmony on anything. So utility wise, I’d be like, “I’ve got the one singer that can do every song,” and to get her to come in and she’d sing like five songs
Tune in this Sunday, October 30, at 2pm PT / 4pm CT / 5pm ET, or any time afterward at apple.co/_ProudRadio on Apple Music Country.
Media and quotes courtesy of ‘Proud Radio with Hunter Kelly’ on Apple Music Country.