(Editor’s Note: Open Mic is a new series from BGS with a simple premise – to remove all the filters between artist and audience and give musicians and creatives an Open Mic. With each installment, we’ll hold space for musicians to say whatever they’d like on any topic they like in any format that moves them most. It’s about facilitating real conversations and genuine insight with our roots music community.)
For our first edition of our new series, we set up an Open Mic for Americana newcomer Tommy Prine, an emerging singer-songwriter who walks a unique tightrope. The son of folk legend John Prine and an artist with a creative vision all his own, his work both builds on an established tradition and breaks free from the past – a contrast in full view at his December 2023 Grand Ole Opry debut.
Here, Prine reflects on his winding and not-at-all anticipated path into the artistic world – and into the ability to stand on his own creative feet.
Tommy Prine: “I have learned many things over the last few years, but the most important lesson I have learned is that no one gets anywhere without a lot of support.
“My wife, Savannah, is the embodiment of support. We decided in 2020 that we were going to give this music thing a shot, and by ‘shot’ I mean throwing every ounce of our hearts and spirit into making it work. She has taken on so many roles and worn a thousand hats (still does) during this music journey and it amazes me everyday how graceful and effortlessly she navigates the strange world that we operate in.
“My mom, Fiona, has been the guiding hand through so many new and scary events ultimately enabling me to gain the needed self-confidence to be an artist. She also played that role in raising me, and I owe a whole lot to her for any and all success in my life.
“My dad, John, set a standard of manhood that I will always strive to attain; gentleness, respect, and a lot of listening. As I walk the path that he walked, I learn more about him each day and his lessons unfold time and time again. Thank you for a lifetime of love and teachings, Dad.
“My brothers, Jody and Jack, have seen me in every shape and form I have ever taken on and been nothing but loving and understanding. They both have taught me so much about patience, wisdom and any and all cool music/movies. Without them I would be an entirely different person with different interests, and I couldn’t be prouder to be their little brother.
“My friends, who have been there with me since I was just a kid who played guitar by himself with the doors closed, all of you have influenced me to be a better and smarter man, and have never missed an opportunity to support me. For these reasons, I consider myself the luckiest man alive, and I feel undeserved of such incredible and loving company.
“When I reflect on my Opry debut, the word that comes to mind is acceptance. Acceptance into the community of artists that I admire so much, and acceptance of the life path that I chose which led me to the Grand Ole Opry. Growing up in Nashville, the Grand Ole Opry stage is the stage that you tell yourself, ‘One day, I’ll get there.’ When those thoughts crossed my mind as a teen, all it ever felt like was a dream. An unattainable dream barricaded by years of the most vulnerable and terrifying work I could imagine.
“Part of me knew who I had to be in order to get there, and the other part of me found that to be impossible. My journey in music has provided the personal growth I always wanted – and if all else fails, at least I found out who I really am. When an artist gets the opportunity to step into that circle, they light their own torch. On December 8th, 2023 I lit my own torch, and I intend to carry it to the end of my road.”
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Grand Ole Opry, shot by Chris Hollo