So she decided to try a new tactic: Hit the reset button on her career as Margaret Durante and find a new sound, a new band, even a new name. And a completely new style, which led to the scissors and alcohol.
“When in doubt, have some whiskey,” advised Rose, 24, sitting in the air-conditioned back room of her sparsely decorated tour bus this summer. She paused. “Wow, that’s a terrible motto.”
Maggie is a nickname given to her by her father, and Rose is her middle name. The new moniker caps a long line of changes to her musical persona. Her formerly long, light tresses are shorter and bleached blond, and her makeup is heavier. Her flirty, poppy tunes have evolved into songs with a dark, swampy feel. While the edgy Maggie Rose isn’t so wildly different from the wholesome Margaret Durante, it’s far enough away on the spectrum to give her a much-needed confidence boost.
“I just figured, this is a way to take bits of Margaret Durante and show the changes that occurred,” Rose said, relaxing before a show several months ago in Glen Allen, Va. “Not abandon what I was,” she added, “but it’s a more grown-up version of who I am.”
The change seems to have paid off, as Rose has seen the buzz start to pick up. Her brassy single “I Ain’t Your Mama” made a mark on the country charts, she got booked on her first major tour and is in the studio with veteran Nashville producers James Stroud and Blake Chancey, preparing to release her first album in February. And in August, the 2006 graduate of Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School marked a true country milestone with her debut at the Grand Ole Opry.
As she navigates the country music world, Rose seems almost surprised that she’s made it this far. She never thought that singing professionally could be a realistic option, so she just went about daily life growing up while being known as The Girl With the Great Voice. Attending Our Lady of Mercy School in Potomac, she performed in a youth choir and at church. During high school, she got hooked on performing, began writing songs and soon recorded a demo.
In 2007, Rose was focused on college, starting her sophomore year at Clemson University, where she majored in vocal performance and joined a campus a cappella group, TakeNote. But a family friend slipped Rose’s demo to a music industry pal, and it worked its way up the ladder to legendary record producer Tommy Mottola, who helped shape the careers of stars such as Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez.