COVID & the Arts: Aledo Native Margo Price
Taylor Swift isn’t the only artist who's released two albums during quarantine.
Even though she didn’t write or record them during the shutdown since March, country-rock star Margo Price released a live album and a new studio record in 2020. The outspoken 38-year-old native of Aledo, Illinois., also has been a powerful voice this year on social media and several media outlets nationwide – addressing urgent issues like racial injustice, Covid-19 financial relief, political polarization, public
health, and how to get out of this long pandemic alive and sane.
As an opponent of President Trump and his supporters, Price said she’s lost out on sales from conservative country fans, but she doesn’t regret speaking out.
"Every hero I ever had stood for something and was not afraid to speak their mind when it mattered. I’m not worried about the money; that’s not why I got into this in the first place. I just want to make good art and honest art. Hopefully, people appreciate that. I do want a world that is safe for my children to live in. So that is the Catch-22 that I find myself in.”
She and her husband, singer-songwriter Jeremy Ivey, live outside Nashville, with their kids Judah, 10, and Ramona, 18 months.
In interviews and her lively Twitter account, she doesn’t shy away from politics. Tennessee leads the nation in Covid cases by population – a daily average earlier this month of 122 cases per 100,000 people. Nationwide, mid-December saw the highest single-day death total from Covid – 3,600 – since the pandemic began.
“It’s really bad that they won’t even make a mask mandate or shut down the bars, when the schools can’t open and hospitals are full. You’ve got such a divide. And I live out in a rural area in Tennessee. We moved out of Nashville proper, a little bit north of town, in a town that’s quite similar to my hometown of Aledo – about 3,000 people – and when I go in the grocery store here, which I really try not to, but every now and then you forget something. The amount of people not wearing masks is just mind-blowing.”
“I thought the United States would come back together and be united through this crisis. Unfortunately, even people who have lost a loved one to Covid still think it’s like something created by the Chinese government.”
Pre-pandemic, she played a benefit in early March for victims of a deadly Nashville tornado. But she says a lot of people were still hugging, and no one was fully quarantined, or really knowing they were supposed to stay home.
Her husband got sick with Covid symptoms, though his tests for the virus were indeterminate. He slept in another room, but they stayed in the house and didn’t see anyone else for nearly 100 days.
“We were definitely struggling. I was scared that he was gonna die in his sleep. I was scared the children were gonna die – Ramona was sick as well. I wasn’t sleeping at night, partially because the baby was waking up a lot and partially because I just was stressed out. It was one of the most difficult times that we’ve ever experienced as a family, for sure.”
Price was hit hard by the April 7 death of legendary singer-songwriter John Prine at age 73, from Covid complications, in Nashville.
She did some livestream benefit shows later in the year to encourage people to support Joe Biden and vote, as well as posting on social media.
“We had to learn this year how to be our own producer. I had to run Logix on my computer. Setting up the microphones and cameras, it’s definitely something I never really enjoyed doing, and had to get good at, in order to broadcast myself to the rest of the world. It’s been a learning experience of a year, for sure.”
Price released a live album, “Perfectly Imperfect at the Ryman” in May, and her third studio record, “That’s How Rumors Get Started,” in July. Not being able to tour to promote the new one was hard.
“What I do as a singer and performer, that’s my bread and butter. I am able to convey things through a live show that don’t always happen on an album. I feel like I kinda lost out on what could have been a big crossover moment. I’m thankful there will be time for that in the future.”
What about more songs of protest and pain from her, about this unprecedented year?
“I don’t know how focused I will be about writing political songs. Songs about humanity, those will always be there. Like Dylan’s ‘Blood on the Tracks,’ that’s not a political record, but it’s still a great record. There’s always going to be a song for the mood that you’re in when you have Bob Dylan. I think there will be a lot of political songs, but I think it’s very hard to write good political songs.”
‘All American Made,’ ‘Pay Gap,’ and ‘I’d Die For You’ – are political songs she said she’s proud of. This year, Price has been writing with her husband, but – like many of us – she’s unsure what 2021 will hold for her career.