Maggie Koerner on Writing With a Purpose: "We Don’t Need More Bullshit Music"

Maggie Koerner is singing her heart out.
Maggie Koerner is singing her heart out.
Photo by Jamey Shaw

“I’ve never lived outside Louisiana,” A flu ridden Maggie Koerner told New Times, "I was raised in that strong Southern way not to be afraid to say what you want to say. There’s a grittiness to my music from that." Though she explains that her sound isn't "Southern" or blues, her home state is an essential part of the music she creates. 

And the books she reads by Southern authors also are also big influencers. She's currently working on The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. And she references other big names from the South as impacting her, from William Faulkner and Harper Lee to musicians like Dr. John and Cat Power.

However, it's a decidedly different moment that inspired her love for music. “Since I was a little girl, I would watch VH1. My parents wouldn’t let me watch MTV, and I would take the chimney tools and make them my mike stand. I remember "Glycerin" by Bush really got me. I was nine-years old and even then without knowing what the song was about, I knew the chord progression was beautiful.”

It wasn’t until she graduated from college at 22 that she met a man “who lit a fire under my ass to pursue music instead of going to grad school.” Her dad put her to work as a waitress at his restaurant in Shreveport. She never really had any musical training or vocal lessons, so she found her voice on her own. But it was when she began singing with veteran New Orleans funksters Galactic, that level of confidence began to soar. “Working with Galactic was my music college. I went from playing to 100 people at most to huge crowds. I had to step up my game.”

While touring with Galactic last summer she brought her lyrics to a much deeper level. “Every morning, I’d wake up on the bus and they’d have CNN on, and we’d see what’s going on in Ferguson. It was like what year are we living in? It was like MLK’s time. I realized we need more songs like (singing) ‘Stop children what’s that sound’ ("For What It’s Worth" by Buffalo Springfield). We don’t need more bullshit music.”

One of those new songs has the tentative title of “If I Die” with the chorus, “If I die before I live/that’s going to be the biggest sin.” “It is a take on how my generation lives their lives. I’m not just singing songs about a boy any more,” she says.  

Koerner is excited to take these new songs on the road with her band. Admittedly, she is also a little bit nervous. “I’m not going to be playing with Galactic, so now I get to really see what y’all think.”

CrawDebauchery Food and Music Festival 2015, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday, March 21, Pompano Beach Amphitheatre Field, 1806 NE Sixth St., Pompano Beach. Tickets cost $25 in advance and $35 day of; VIP costs $65 in advance and $75 day of. Visit crawdebauchery.com.   

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