Singer/songwriter Amy Black gets a late start on the fast track
Hometown: Spent her childhood in Missouri and Alabama before her family moved to Concord, Mass.; now lives in Somerville.
Think of: Legendary singer-songwriters Bonnie Raitt and Mary Chapin Carpenter, who played a huge role in Black’s life long before she started writing and performing her own music in her mid-30s. Black’s brand of soulful Americana – whether she’s doing covers of folk and country classics or showing off her own songwriting – is reminiscent of the warm yet powerful voices of the two female artists she listened to as a teen.
What caught our eye: Black’s sophomore solo album, “This Is Home.” The album, which came out in February, is an effortless blend of roots, country, and blues – with a touch of R&B on tracks like “Nobody Knows You” – and further establishes Black’s songwriting abilities, which she first displayed on her 2011 album, “One Time.” Black’s latest effort has garnered more than just rave reviews and the opportunity to play with some of her favorite artists like Spooner Oldham – it’s allowed her to quit her day job in marketing.
Lightbulb moment: “I was sitting at the kitchen table one night seven years ago, when I was working at a software company, and I just thought to myself ‘You’ve never done anything with your voice and you’re not getting any younger.’ It just hit me [that I wanted to make music].”
Biggest thrill: Last summer, after opening for Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell at the Lowell Summer Music Series, Black got to join the two Grammy winners onstage for an encore, and even danced onstage with them. “That was my highest point because I love Emmylou and Rodney,” said Black.
Biggest surprise: “Being able, at age 35 – only seven years ago, to get on a path to have a music career and have national reviews of my music. That’s just amazing.”
Inspired by: “My husband, Ryan Black, who I’ve been married to for 15 years. He’s been such a huge supporter of what I do and the best teammate.” After easily picking up the drums two years ago, Black will join his wife on tour this summer.
Aspires to: “I just really want to be able to play rooms across the country and Europe and be able to pay the bills and then some. I just want to have a real career in music and be comfortable.”
For good luck: “Every time I get up to do a show, if I’m a little intimidated in front of 1,000 people, I just remind myself that I love doing this for a living. I tell myself, ‘You got this, girl!’ ”
What people should know: “It’s very rewarding to go after something you’re passionate about, even if it’s later in life and at an amateur level. I hope that my story inspires people to get out and do something they love.”
Coming soon: “Lots of shows!” Black will be in Austin next week to play showcases during the South by Southwest music festival, after which she’ll open for Rodney Crowell in Houston on March 15. She’ll follow that up with a tour leg through the South and then some shows closer to home, including one in front of a live studio audience at Norwood’s “The Alternate Root” TV show on April 18, and a show with the full band at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River on May 2.