Artist: Abby Hamilton
Hometown: Nicholasville, Kentucky
Latest Album: #1 Zookeeper (of the San Diego Zoo)
Which artist has influenced you the most?
It’s always been Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. My mom used to have us stop before a Myrtle Beach or Gatlinburg vacation growing up to have us pick out a book. At 12 years old I resented this greatly. But, as luck would have it, I landed on a June Carter Cash biography, Anchored in Love. Realizing I had known this music my whole life, I saw so much of myself in her story and it led me down one of the richest love affairs of discographies I’ve ever experienced. The music and life stories of Johnny Cash and June Carter have always been a north star for my writing, performing, and presence as a person and a writer. I adore them. It also opened the doors to the world of country and folk music.
What was the first moment that you knew you wanted to be a musician?
Speaking of Johnny Cash, I remember being in college and discovering that Kris Kristofferson had written “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” not Johnny. I had no idea people could be songwriters and not the artist. It was like this huge “aha!” moment in my life. I never really felt like I was good at anything growing up. Not very high achieving in school and not super passionate about anything. Until that moment. I thought to myself, “If I can write songs, I will be happy. No matter who sings them.” And that’s what happened!
When I started writing here in Kentucky, I quickly realized everyone who made music here wrote their songs. A beautiful legacy from these parts, but it made me shift my attention to performing them. Thinking maybe, “If I sing these songs, someone might want to sing them, too.” This lead to a beautiful and unexpected journey with performing and falling in love with singing and my band. Don’t know how I got here really, but that’s the most I know.
Since food and music go so well together, what is your dream pairing of a meal and a musician?
Man, I think I’d take a bowl of Vodka Pasta and Bruce Springsteen. Those two always hit. And make it spicy.
What has been the best advice you’ve received in your career so far?
There’s so many things. I’m lucky to be surrounded by so many friends, family, and influences who know me and tell me the truth. The biggest thing has always been staying true to myself. Protect my tribe and be honest with those closest to me. CLICHES I know. But, it’s true.
Which elements of nature do you spend the most time with and how do those impact your work?
Anytime I’m in Eastern Kentucky on a dewey spring morning, I’m writing like a fiend. TRULY. If I can catch a sunrise and see the spiders making webs in the grass in the morning, I’ve always finished a song. Something that feels like a retreat from the real world always inspires me. No matter the season.
Photo Credit: Alysse Gafkjen