From Performer To Teacher

Tricia Walker has paid her dues in the music industry as a celebrated singer and songwriter.

She served as Creative Director for Crossfield Music Publishing where she developed a staff of five writers and produced company demos and masters. She was the founder of the Bluebird Café’s legendary Women in the Round, a writer’s show featuring singer/songwriters Ashley Cleveland, Karen Staley, Pam Tillis and Walker.

As creator of Big Front Porch Productions, Ms. Walker has produced five of her own CD projects and continues to perform her one-woman show, “The Heart of Dixie,” throughout the region.

Giving Back

She decided to take what she’s learned as a singer, music and songwriter and give advice and guidance to those brave voices entering the fold. In August of 2006 she returned to her native Mississippi and now serves as the Director of the Delta Music Institute at Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss.

As a singer and songwriter her style is noticeably influenced by Memphis R&B, Texas swing, New Orleans jazz, black gospel, and ’60s radio. She’s worked as a backing musician for Grand Ole Opry star Connie Smith, Paul Overstreet, Russ Taff, and Shania Twain. She has performed at the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Tin Pan South Songwriting Festival in Nashville, was a New Folk Winner at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas and a featured performer at the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas.

Amy Grant, Alison Krauss

Recent musical highlights included singing at Robert Redford’s Christmas Cantata at Sundance Resort in Utah as well as a live performance during a newly choreographed work for the Nashville Ballet entitled “All the Way Home,” co-written by Tricia and Kate Campbell. Her music has been recorded by Faith Hill, Patty Loveless and Alison Krauss.

“For years I have loved the way Tricia weaves a story into a song,” said Grammy-winning artist Amy Grant. “Her mellow, bluesy style makes for a great vocal delivery.” Fellow artist Ashley Cleveland echoes those sentiments. “Tricia’s voice and music are, for me, like floating restfully in deep waters.”

Talking With The Teacher

SSO: How have challenges and opportunities changed for singers from when you first started out a little more than 20 years ago to how things are today?

Walker: I’m not sure they changed that much in terms of live settings, but enormous doors have been opened through the internet. You have the possibility to be heard by people all around the world through a computer.

SSO: In addition to vocal training what are some key areas a vocalist should not neglect when pursuing a career?

Walker: It’s very helpful to develop some basic business and marketing skills. It’s not the type of work that creative types like to think about, but it’s becoming increasingly necessary to learn how to take care of the business of music and singing, especially for independent artists and self-employed singers and musicians.

SSO: How critical is it for a singer that does not write or compose to hook up with those who do?

Walker: That’s extremely important. Songwriters and composers need great singers to interpret their work and give it ‘life,’ whether in a live setting, a demo, or a master recording. Great songs and great singers make for great art.

SSO: What advice do you have for making that connection?

Walker: Some places to connect would be at songwriter nights, music publishing houses, word of mouth ‘buzz’ through the communities of musicians who live and work in major music centers.

SSO: How have your perceptions of the music industry changed since you started teaching at Delta State?

Walker: The music industry is changing at a dizzying pace, particularly in the areas of marketing and distribution. A musician/artist still has to make a connection with a fan by live performances and recorded music, but how that music gets to the consumer has radically changed in the digital age. So it’s tough trying to teach students the fundamentals of the industry while trying to adapt to the changes daily.

SSO: What are some opportunities for singers to launch their careers that you feel are often overlooked or downplayed but can be valuable to growth and eventual success?

Walker: Don’t wait for what you think is “the” gig that will launch your career. Sing as often as you can for all types of audiences. And while you’re doing that, learn to observe and study your audience. Figure out what ‘clicks’ with them when you sing and then learn to use that in a constructive way. Whether that’s at church, clubs, schools, festivals….watch your audience and learn from them.

Visit www.bigfrontporch.com for more information about her singing, songwriting, and other ventures.