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“It happens when you’re least expecting it…you can’t force it at all,” says Maggie Chapman on her writing process. Despite these words, when it comes to crafting together unforgettable melodies and lyrics, Maggie is in no short supply. She so effortlessly churns triggered events, one-lined confessions, diary ramblings and photographs into wistfully hooky songs. None of this should come as a surprise; because if years of improbable events have taught her anything, it’s that the best stories unfold when you least expect them.
Maggie’s debut into the music scene is the product of a three-year journey that was sparked while in her hometown of Clearwater, FL. What was meant simply as a well-intentioned birthday gift now marks the starting point to Maggie’s extraordinary storyline.
“When I was nine, I remember writing my first song. I had been journaling ever since I could write, but never put it in the form of a song until that point. Then when I was 12, I figured out how to play piano by ear and started writing all the time,” says Maggie. “For my 13th birthday, my parents surprised me and took me to a local studio and let me record one song. They made it clear they were not doing anything with it, that it was just for my birthday and nothing more.”
But that was just the beginning. Unadvised by Maggie or her parents, the recording studio took the liberty of sending her song to some music business contacts. The undeniable talent of thirteen-year old Maggie quickly landed her a trip to New York City to meet with multi-talented industry alum Nick Cannon. Shortly after going to New York, more unexpected doors began to open. Maggie’s grandmother helped send her music, which lead her to begin commuting to Nashville for co-write sessions.
One co-write led to another and then another. Eventually balancing between the two worlds – life as a full time high school student in one city and then as a singer/songwriter in another – became too taxing and Maggie had to make a change.
“I pulled myself out of school and started homeschooling, which was a really big decision. I was traveling and trying to live two separate lives and I started to feel like less of myself when I was sitting there in high school. I knew I either needed to pursue this path or focus on high school and be a normal teenager, which was never going to happen.” Maggie laughs, adding, “It was against my nature in all ways to be like everyone else.”
In the fall of 2012, Maggie and her family made the decision to relocate to Nashville and around the same time, she began working with Beth Laird – Co-Owner and General Manager at Creative Nation – on a publishing deal. In March 2013, Maggie signed with the company, joining their esteem roster of songwriters, which includes Luke Laird, Barry Dean and newcomer Native Run.
“Growing up I loved to read books on the music business,” notes Maggie. “I wanted to be an entertainment lawyer and be involved in the industry in that aspect. It’s a dream to be a part of a place like Creative Nation where I can be associated with both the business side and the creative side of music.”
Maggie’s love for reading isn’t limited just to the business side. In fact, her range of books is part of what fuels her as a gifted storyteller. “I look at songs as stories and I like to listen to albums straight through,” she explains. “I don’t think you can listen to an album like Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours without listening to it that way. It’s like watching a movie or reading a book. I think today, since music is so single driven, people don’t take the time to ‘read the whole book’ and they just skip to the end - the conclusion - and then move to the next thing. We sometimes miss out on experiencing all of what music has to offer with the rising action, the climax and how it all pays off at the end.”
Leaning on musical influences such as Jackson Brown, Carol King, Carly Simon and Tom Petty, Maggie has always been inspired by the pure melodies and lyrics found in classic artistry. In the same way, she channels the same raw emotions that have been embraced in music throughout the decades.
“Songwriting has always been something I couldn’t stop doing if I tried. I think that there’s beauty in the imperfections,
in telling these stories in a different way. I love songs that say something I can relate to; where there’s a line I’ve never heard put that way before. I enjoy writing songs that are not too descriptive; that way you leave room for someone to fill in their own experiences and relate to the song in their own way.”
There’s no question that Maggie commands authority in her writing. The maturity of what Maggie delivers is of natural brilliance; an innate ability to produce fresh music that defies genre boundaries.
There are some things that don’t need flashy explanations or special captions. Some stories just speak for themselves. The same can be said about Maggie Chapman. Smart and charming, she captivates her audience with brilliant confidence. Much can be said about her, but when it comes down to it, Maggie Chapman can speak (and sing), for herself just fine.