Singer/songwriter and fiddle player Carrie Rodriguez never had to approach her parents reluctantly with her decision to pursue music for a living; she was just joining the family business.
“My mom was a painter, my grandma was a writer and my dad was a songwriter, and so I just thought everyone’s parents were artists,” said Rodriguez, who plays tonight at The Blue Door. “A lot of my musician friends struggled to convince their parents that it was OK to not go study law or medicine. It’s nice that I never had to fight that battle.”
She’s been primed since birth, raised with the notion that being an artist was the only way to live.
“The one thing it did was make me think being an artist was a perfectly normal thing to do and a viable way to make a living,” Rodriguez said, laughing. “I’ve found that’s not exactly true.”
Since she first saw children learning the violin at her elementary school, she’s known what medium she would pursue. Picking up the stringed instrument shortly after, she has spent a full, steady career collaborating with everyone under the sun.
Prolific songwriter Chip Taylor (brother of actor Jon Voight, hence Angelina Jolie’s uncle) discovered her in 2001, and his connections opened a series of doors for Rodriguez that led to her touring with, and sometimes performing alongside, big names like Lucinda Williams and John Prine.
Taylor had another, unexpected influence that completely shifted gears for her: The two co-wrote some albums, with Rodriguez mainly contributing fiddle parts. Finding herself providing input in other areas, she eventually became as much of a songwriter as performer.
“I’d always planned on being a sideman, and was very happy doing that,” she said. “Somewhere along the way, I got sidetracked into songwriting. I imagined being apart of a group or orchestra, maybe traveling, but never saw myself standing on stage singing and playing a song for people that I wrote. That never crossed my mind.”
Nonetheless, she has four solo albums under her belt, including 2010’s “Love and Circumstance.” With a sweet voice and an expanded repertoire of Mandobird and guitar creating a twangy folk sound, she’s taken to the spotlight, and audiences have taken to her. It’s brought a few challenges she didn’t have as a backup musician, but she has faced them head-on.
I don’t want to waste your time.
“Confidence and fighting selfdoubt have been the hardest thing,” Rodriguez said. “To feel like you’ve written something that is worth someone else’s time is tough. If it’s not, I don’t want to waste your time. It’s a struggle to believe in myself at times, but I feel like struggle is good, and the more I do it, the better I get.”
Rodriguez has done her family proud. It’s all they’ve wanted for her, and all she’s ever wanted for herself.
“Every musician I met keeps things interesting, if they can teach me or inspire me in any way,” she said. “Collaboration and learning from others keeps it exciting, and there are infinite numbers of musicians, so I can do that as long as I live.”