Cleveland Singer/Songwriter Tracy Marie has written hundreds of songs, released 6 albums and has performed professionally for more than 20 years in the Rock, Blues and Folk scene. Her performances have included venues from nursing homes to the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and back home at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where she received a nomination for “Rock Hall Riot Girl” in 2008, an award also received by Joan Jett. In addition to performing, Tracy has been the director of the Breastfest Cleveland, an annual benefit helping breast cancer patients and families going on it’s 21st year and featuring female fronted bands from the north coast.
Tracy’s music is her connection to her community, where she has made herself known as an outspoken advocate for disability rights and strives to improve care for those with rare diseases. She herself was diagnosed with a rare condition called Morquio Syndrome, a type of skeletal dysplasia caused by a missing enzyme. Still, she continues to write, record and perform her music despite her physical challenges.
We had a chance to catch up with Tracy to discuss her new album and everything else going on as part of our ongoing The Refrain Interview series.
Refrain Music Blog: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. You have a new single out now. Tell us about it? What’s it called?
Tracy Marie: The single is called “A Dark Place”
RMB: What’s the single about?
TM: The single is about feeling as though you’ve hit emotional rock bottom with nowhere else to go. All problems no solutions. Desperation. A very dark place.
RMB: What’s the story on how it was recorded?
TM: We recorded the entire album in just under two weeks at Superior Sound in Cleveland, Ohio and it was produced by Jim Wirt who had already produced several acts that were in my record collection whom I was influenced by, including Fiona Apple and Incubus.
My band in the studio was Stellar. Cleveland has a plethora of talent. I put together the musicians I thought would translate into that 90s grunge sound I was going for. I started by getting together with drummer Tony Kazel to be sure the grooves were in line with that sound before bringing on bassist Ed Stephens. I asked him if he had any suggestions for someone to play guitar that could compliment that sound. He brought on guitarist Nick Ammons who was regularly playing gigs with music in that vein for quite a while.
RMB: Is it part of a larger album? If so, tell us about that.
I started planning the song titles and order for the album back in 2019. I dipped back into my song catalog and pulled out some from the vault. Even songs that I had written in the 90s when the sound was becoming the mainstream.
RMB: When is that album out?
TM: The album was released worldwide on June 18th.
RMB: How many songs on the album?
TM: There are 11 songs with a one chord start track. If you put the album on repeat, the last song will resolve with the chord track at the start of the album.
RMB: Does this album differ from your past albums?
TM: I released four studio albums and one live album prior to this. I consider myself as singer songwriter to have released music that was considerably country, blues, folk and sometimes even jazz. This album is clearly different. I wanted to make an epic rock album that people would put on repeat, the album people would pick out of their collection when they were getting ready for their big party. I hope that I have done that.
RMB: When did you start pursuing music?
TM: I started pursuing music around age 16. Although I loved singing in grade school and middle school. I often had solos and even accompanied my middle school choir on piano one time. I started writing songs when I was in high school and playing guitar and piano. In college I studied engineering and music recording and have been recording albums since 1999.
RMB: Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
TM: Ann Wilson is a huge vocal influence of mine. I grew up listening to Zeppelin, Heart, the Eagles, Bonnie Raitt. In the 90s, I was paying attention to all of the great vocalists like Layne Staley and Chris Cornell. My favorite things to sing is usually in the male rock vocal range. But I used to sing along to Barbra Streisand and Mariah Carey all the time!
RMB: What’s the one thing you are most proud of in your career so far?
TM: I got to perform full arrangements of my original songs with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra, a 115 piece Orchestra of some of the most talented young musicians in the world. It was the best musical moment of my career. The same Orchestra released an album with the band Styx.
RMB: If you had to pitch your music to a potential fan in less than 10 seconds, what would you say?
TM: I may be a little bit country, but I’m a whole lot rock and roll.
RMB: What’s one piece of advice you’ve gotten that you think everyone needs to hear or that has meant the most to you?
TM: Whenever you feel lost, just set your focus to the present. It’s a gift.
RMB: Anything we haven’t thought of that you want to talk about? Now is the time!
TM: Check out the official music video for “A Dark Place” And subscribe at youtube.com/assassinwoman.