As a child, Clark's grandmother used to enlist the young girl to model her "I Skied Down Mount St. Helens May 18, 1980" T-shirts (with "authentic" burn holes, no less) at the local flea market, so it's no wonder she's a woman who loves a unique personality. "When Mount St. Helens erupted," she said, "I remember my grandmother just standing on the porch, smoking a cigarette and watching hot mud fall from the sky. My grandmother was my favorite character in life."
"I had been passed on a lot. I think it's because I didn't really fit what is a mainstream country artist," Clark said. "I was over 30 and over a size 2. I was kinda more your average woman than your average supermodel, which is why my music resonates, though."
No word on whether she currently has a romantic interest, but Clark feels confident the country community will respond warmly to any future partners. "I feel so fortunate to be in a time where I am embraced completely as who I am and I don't have to hide who I am in any way," she said. "I hope that we've broken some boundaries and things are changing. I feel very included in the country music community."
Sure, you may not know you know her music, but you do. Songs written by Clark have been recorded by the likes of Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers, Darius Rucker and Sheryl Crow. She cowrote Miranda Lambert's smash hit "Mama's Broken Heart" with Kacey Musgraves, who she shares a CMA nomination with for Song of the Year for Musgraves' "Follow Your Arrow." She also wrote The Band Perry's first No. 1 single, "Better Dig Two."
During last year's televised airing of the CMA Awards, Clark and Musgraves' song "Follow Your Arrow" was censored for the line "roll up a joint." But chances are pretty good it won't be the last censoring she'll get. "Like I said early on to my manager, my music is Showtime and HBO, and I'm going to always keep it Showtime and HBO," Clark said of her edgy style, which includes songs like "Get High," "Take a Little Pill," and "Hungover."
Prior to achieving success as a songwriter, Clark grew up and lived in the small Washington mill town of Morton, where working-class people often take perilous jobs to make ends meet. She lost her father, a logger, to an on-the-job accident. Her mother worked in human resources at the same mill as her father, while Clark herself slung lumber at a fencing mill.
"I get my inspiration from real people who are just surviving their life and getting through their day," explained Clark. "That's who I write songs for." Her affinity for working-class people is a lifelong love, which has led to her obsession with the hard-hitting vocals of powerhouse country icons like Loretta Lynn and, naturally, Merle Haggard.
First, Clark hit the road with Jennifer Nettles, and says the tour had a laid-back vibe thanks to a lot of outdoor amphitheaters and fairs. Then she tackled Eric Church's massive Outsiders tour, during which she opened for Church and Kacey Musgraves. In January of 2015, she'll kick off the year on Alan Jackson's 25th Anniversary Keepin' It Country tour.
While Clark didn't necessarily have a specific person in mind while writing "Crazy Women," her cowriter Jesse Jo Dillon sure did. "Jesse Jo told me how, to her, that woman is Betty Draper from Mad Men. She said when we were writing that song, that's who was in her head."
"Patty Loveless would be huge," Clark admitted. "She's one of my biggest influences. If she cut one of my songs, that would be just… I would probably have to take a day to do nothing but think about it. And listen to it on repeat." Yeah, we would too.
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