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Outlaw country powerhouse Amelia Presley performing in Loveland Friday

'Harm Nobody Else' tour included several Colorado dates; Boulder date was canceled due to COVID

Americana and country blues singer-songwriter Amelia Presley will play Black and Blues Music and Brews in Loveland on Friday at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $20. (Amelia Presley/ Courtesy photo)
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As a solo artist and as a member of Americana duo Highway Sisters, singer-songwriter Amelia Presley has built up a fanbase that can’t get enough of her fresh lyrical content, passionate strums and outlaw country essence. During her 2018 audition for “American Idol,” the powerhouse even received praise from Luke Bryan.

Amelia Presley will perform at Black and Blues Music and Brews in Loveland Friday. (Garrett Jackson/ Courtesy photo)

In 2019, she became an advocate against child abuse — speaking up for the voiceless. She said she endured years of violence at the hands of her adopted mother starting at the tender age of 3 and lasting until she was 15. Her 2020 release “Harm Nobody Else” is a chill-inducing track that proves to be every bit as musically appealing as it is powerful. Presley filmed the soon-to-be released music video for the single at her childhood home where the abuse took place.

Born in Alabama and raised in Mississippi, Presley’s southern roots can be heard in her emotion-filled vocals that range from raspy to sweet. She’s grit and grace — a fierce storyteller draped in turquoise, armed with a six-string and her own authentic truth. In 2013 she released her debut 10-song album, “No Pony Ride,” while she was enlisted in the United States Coast Guard as a machinery technician.

While her Aug. 17 date at Boulder’s Laughing Goat Café was canceled due to COVID restrictions, she will play in Loveland on Friday at Black and Blues Music and Brews.

The venue, at 423 North Cleveland Ave., encourages patrons to bring along takeout food. Cactus Grille will also make deliveries to the boutique guitar shop and taproom.

Tickets start at $20.

We caught up with the 30-year-old distant cousin of Elvis Presley and former farm hand to talk about how penning her latest song has helped her healing process, what it’s like to tour in the midst of a pandemic and what artists can be heard on heavy rotation in her Texas home.

Reporter-Herald: Really love your song, “Harm Nobody Else.” Super powerful. What prompted you to write this song now after keeping your adopted mother’s secret for so many years? What was your experience like putting pen to paper and revealing such a personal experience? I know you’ve talked about how it has been incredibly healing.

Amelia Presley: Thank you so much. I honestly don’t know why I felt the need to write the song. At the time that I wrote it, I had not come out in any sense, publicly or even to most friends and family, that my childhood involved abuse. I just remember having a flashback in the midst of doing something and all of a sudden the lyrics started flowing. I ran to get it all down on paper. After I got the song on paper, I felt a little bit of relief, but then I just shoved all the emotions associated with the abuse back down. I performed the song at the Mississippi Songwriters Festival a few months after writing it in 2018, and my abuser was actually in the audience. My adrenaline was pumping throughout that experience. Even though I didn’t reveal that the song was my story that day on stage, I did stare her straight in the eyes as I sang the song. It wasn’t until over a year later that I revealed publicly that the song is about me.

The artwork for Amelia Presley’s 2020 single “Harm Nobody Else.” Presley wrote the song about her personal experience with abuse at the hands of her adopted mother that started when she was 3 years old. (Amelia Presley/ Courtesy photo)

RH: What has the feedback been from listeners? I imagine it has motivated some folks to come forth with their own experiences of abuse.

AP: The feedback has been amazingly healing for me. Survivors and even people who work with abused children have come forward to tell me their stories. I don’t believe that I’ve had a show happen yet where no one has approached me to talk about their experience. It’s incredible hearing people who are brave enough to talk to me and just be honest about what happened to them. It’s also a huge reason why I am determined to talk about what the song is about before playing it every single time. It’s not comfortable being so vulnerable, but there is always someone who needs to hear that they are not alone and that they deserve to heal. It blows my mind how common this is, and I believe it’s because it’s not talked about nearly enough. Abusers are able to get away with their crimes because society shows them that their secret will most likely stay hidden. I want to change that.

RH: I bet it feels good to finally be performing in front of live audiences. During the stay-at-home order how did you fill your time? Do you feel inspired by recent events at all? Has any songwriting emerged in the last few months?

AP: Being forced to stay home for a while actually gave me the opportunity to work on things that I previously had less time for while on the road so much. I was able to focus on creating, writing and spending more time with my 12-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. I do feel inspired by recent events. Though a ton of hate has been bred from people being stuck at home and staring at Facebook all day, it’s also shined a light on the people who have been able to adjust and help others along the way. I’ve made so many connections with people that I may have not even gotten to meet if the world was still going a mile a minute. I have definitely gotten a ton of songs and song ideas down during this experience.

RH: What’s it been like touring during a pandemic and what can audiences expect from your gig in Loveland?

AP: This tour has been absolutely amazing. The pandemic forced some shows to be canceled, but it also forced some days to be open, allowing me to actually enjoy my surroundings.  I’ve been camping in the mountains with my two dogs along the route, and at one location I made a new friend who jumped in to play cajón at one of my shows in Las Cruces, N.M. The way we met was pretty rare. I was camping near the Organ Mountains in Las Cruces and a Bureau of Land Management Ranger pulled up to my campsite, and we started chatting. Then, he said, “Wait I know who you are.” He was already following me on Instagram, and it turned out I followed him too. I found out that he is a musician as well in a duo called Soulshine. What makes this connection even crazier is that later after he joined me at my show that night to play percussion, we discovered that we were both enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard.

I’ve even gotten to spend time with friends and family that I haven’t seen in a long time. I got to spend a few days hiking and enjoying nature with one of my shipmates from my Coast Guard days. We haven’t seen each other in about three or four years, but it was like no time had passed at all. I haven’t felt that stress-free in years, but something about getting to hang out with a long time best friend gave my soul peace, especially combining our visit with beautiful mountains and glacier views. I had a show in Wheat Ridge, Colo.,  that Clancy’s Irish Pub was kind enough to add to my tour last minute. My friend’s boyfriend even hopped in on the show with his fiddle. It brought an added spark to the show. After the show, there was a bluegrass jam and they all joined in to jam along with me to my song, “Drop the Hammer.”

The show in Loveland will be a lot of fun. I will talk about my song, “Harm Nobody Else,” but I also love to joke with my audience. The more audience participation, the more fun we will all have. I can’t wait to meet everyone and make even more connections. The show does have limited seating, so tickets need to be purchased pretty quickly.

Amelia Presley has performed at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and her 2018 “American Idol” audition was televised. ( Amelia Presley/ Courtesy photo)

RH: Lastly, who are some artists that you can’t get enough of? Ones that you’ve recently discovered or those who have been on heavy-rotation in your house for years?

AP: I cannot get enough of Tyler Childers, Jason Isbell, Bri Bagwell, Justin Biltonen, Southern Brave, The Lawless, Asher Cataldo, Allie Colleen, Joe Savage and so many more. Some in that list are actually good friends of mine.

 

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