Since I moved to Nashville in 2010, I’ve been inviting local artists to come play songs from my living room for a series we’ve dubbed “Songs From My Couch.” This session from last year was the eighth installment. It features Shannon Labrie, a singer-songwriter with a voice bleeds of smoke and soul. She sang her original tunes “Lion’s Cage,” and “Homeland,” a song she says was inspired by Edward Snowden. Labrie’s new EP War & Peace was just released last month. She’s also touring. Check her website to see if she’ll be playing live near you.
Video by David Johnson. Sound engineering by M. Allen Parker. Video editing by Ron Marks. I supplied the couch.
Labrie was kind of enough to answer a few questions via email about her work.
Where did you grow up?
I’m from Lincoln, Neb. originally. I grew up on a little acerage in the middle of nowhere.
At what age did you start to take an interest in music? Were there any artists who were particularly inspiring or responsible for your decision to pursue music as a career?
I’ve been writing songs and playing music ever since I can remember. I was heavily influenced by my Dad (who was a talented musician and songwriter). I never set out to “pursue music as a career.” More realistically, music just morphed into a career naturally.
How much do your early experiences with and memories of your dad influence the music you make today?
Every single time I play music I think of him. His influence is constant.
Your bio describes you embarking on a “curious solo journey across the country studying philosophy, theology and writing songs.” Tell me more about that. Where did you go? How long was your trip?
Since I was a little girl I wanted to move to New York City. After my Dad died when I was 13, that desire grew even more. When I turned 17 I moved to Virginia and never looked back. I ended up living in several different towns in Virginia, D.C. New York, Texas, and Colorado. I’ve always been chasing after something and asked lots of questions as a means to get there. It wasn’t until I moved to Nashville that I truly felt like I could relax and feel at home. In many ways Nashville was the answer I was looking for.
What made you decide to settle in Nashville?
When I was living in Colorado, I started playing a lot of shows around town and kind of built a household name for myself. It became clear that playing music was what I was really good at. I figured if I wanted to be more than good at it, I should move to Nashville where the greatest musicians in the country lived. See if I could hang with the big boys. I have no regrets whatsoever about moving here. I love Nashville and am proud to call it home.
Your song “Homeland” is a tribute to Edward Snowden. What inspired you to write a song about him?
At risk of hopping on a soap box. . .
It’s not a tribute to him, but the song was inspired by him. I won’t say that I agree or disagree with what he did. But I can say that I’m glad it happened.
We live in an age of manipulation, cover ups and more opinions than actual facts. Edward Snowden had facts and guts. Not only did he give us the facts, he also made massive sacrifices to do what he felt was right. I found that inspiring.
Edward Snowden had leverage and a massive set of balls to do what he did. I believe I have the right to know what’s going on in the country that I love.
If you could record or collaborate with anyone in music, who would it be?
Tom Petty. Tom Petty and . . . Tom Petty.
Who are your favorite Nashville-based artists?
Gabe Dixon. Jason Isbell. Alanna Royale. I mean . . . the list is endless. This town is full of goodness.