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LEFT OF CENTRE

Natalie Hemby is Miranda Lambert’s go-to songwriting partner, having built her writing reputation on quirky observation and unusual word-craft. She tells Country Music, “I can’t stand to write something that someone else has written”

MULTI NO. 1 SONG WRITER

NASHVILLE SONGWRITER SERIES: No.7

Born in Puxico, Missouri, Natalie Hemby now lives in Nashville, where she plies her trade as a prolific and witty songwriter, happy to co-write with almost anyone. Married to record producer Mike Wrucke, she grew up surrounded by the business of Music City, as her father played guitar for Amy Grant, her mother was Grant’s PA, and her Uncle Ron sang in gospel group The Imperials. Best known for collaborations with Miranda Lambert and smash hits with Little Big Town, Hemby has also chalked up hits and cuts for the likes of Kacey Musgraves, Lee Ann Womack, Blake Shelton and Lady Antebellum.

In 2017 she released her own acclaimed, ‘hometown’ album Puxico (on the GetWrucke label) and she was arguably the standout performer in the CMA Songwriters Event at C2C 2018.

What was the tipping point, the song that changed your fortunes forever?

That’s easy. I wrote a song called The Bees when I didn’t even have a publishing deal. I’d tried to be an artist for 10 years and had a lot of doors shut and almost open. I wrote this song right after my grandmother had passed away; I’d read [coming-of-age novel] The Secret Life Of Bees and loved the book because it reminded me of her. I was literally mowing the lawn one day and sang, “Well, I work for the queen all day” and kept saying it over and over, and took the song to my friend Daniel Tashian and we finished it. I had no expectations, I played it at some coffee shops, but Lee Ann Womack ended up cutting it on her record and it was my first country cut. That was pretty momentous; it opened a lot of doors with a lot of people who said, “I love The Bees. That song is so different!”

Do you have go-to co-writers?

Absolutely! My favourite writer right now is Luke Dick, who’s like the Beck of country music. I love writing things that are left of centre. He’s my songwriting brother, and we get crazy. We wrote Pink Sunglasses with Rodney Clawson, and Highway Vagabonds with Shane McAnally. Luke is a person I’d take a quirkier, fun title to.

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