I was taking a group of daycamp kids through the studios last week. When we arrived in the Music Library (“Why do we call it a music library? Because it’s a library – made up of CDS!” Kids love that kind of stuff), one of the girls asked me if we play Taylor Swift. Of course, the answer is no. But that doesn’t mean she will never make it into the stream. For those who don’t know, Taylor Swift is a 20 year-old pop/country artist who is very popular with the tween set. She’s no slouch, her CD Fearless won Album of the Year at the Grammys last year (she picked up three other statues as well). Taylor writes her own music and, as a mature singer/songwriter, she might release a collection appropriate to Folk Alley.
It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that a rock or pop singer has changed tunes. Robert Plant’s collaboration with Alison Krauss, Rising Sand, is a great Americana album. Dierks Bentley has taken a break from HOT Country to release a Bluegrass collection. Even popster Mandy Moore put out an acoustic covers CD (it helps that she’s married to Ryan Adams – it adds to her roots cred). Plus, there’s Jewel, who has gone from folkie living in her car in Alaska, to Top 40 Queen, Country star and back to singer/songwriter.
Maybe music is a cyclical process. Start out on an old guitar with lyrics scratched on the back of an envelope. Become a huge star with enormous production and lots of drums and amps. And then, return to a place where the craft takes center stage again. As she was leaving, the little asked, “When will you be playing Taylor Swift?” I’m guessing 10 years from now.
Who do you think is the next rock star to come home to folk?