GEorgia Grown & Proud
Michelle Malone Brings the Party to Pride

By Lee Valentine Smith

For three decades, Michelle Malone has been a fixture of Atlanta music. Born of the same scene that brought Indigo Girls, Shawn Mullins and the core of Sugarland, she's a staple of the Atlanta-Decatur singer-songwriter aesthetic.

Even though she left town for ten years, Malone has maintained a steady presence around town. Now after months on the road, she's designated the last few months of '18 for staying close to home with big shows at Pride, a high-profile November gig with Shawn Mullins at Variety Playhouse and her annual New Year's Eve party at Eddie's Attic.

Malone spoke with INsite recently for a wide-ranging interview.

You're known as such a vital part of the Atlanta music scene, yet you actually left town for almost a decade.

Yeah, I left Atlanta for almost ten years but I continued to play here often, so maybe nobody missed me too much. I'd come down and pick up the band in the van and we'd go on tour. I lived in Boulder, Colorado for a couple of years and I lived in Nashville for a couple of seconds. It just wasn't for me. Then I lived in Decatur, Alabama for about five years. I enjoyed all of it, but one day I woke up and it was just time to come home.

The intrinsic pull of the magnetic south.

I guess so. I've started exploring my heritage a little more and I found that my daddy's side of the family had been in Georgia since the mid-1700's. So is it any wonder I want to stay here?

On the back of your latest album Slings and Arrows, it says proudly that 'This is a Georgia record by Georgia artists.' But you've always been very Atlanta-based.


I think with the exception of one record, I've always recorded with local folks. I like what we bring to the table. I love our vibe, our aesthetic. I just want to use Georgia artists of all kinds on every project, even graphic artists, because I truly like who we are.

For this album, you chose to collaborate and co-write with a number of great local artists.

For this one, I think I just wanted to capture my authentic self. I didn't really have any other agenda except to collaborate. I've written so many records, I'm kinda tired of myself. Some days I needed a little bit of a catalyst to start writing. So it's nice to be able to write with people like Randall Bramblett or Chuck McDowell. We cut it all in the studio together, pretty much live, to capture that feeling when people are playing off of each other. People sometimes say my live show is better than my records, so I said, 'Well let's just do a live show in the studio.' I called up a bunch of folks that I admired and loved and we all got together.

It doesn't sound stale and just 'done to death' like so many studio recordings.

Some of the songs weren't finished when we started playing them, so I think it sounds fresh because we'd never even heard some of these songs until we did them. I guess that human element is what makes it sound so immediate. Even mistakes can become happy accidents that lead to something great.

Now you're bringing that live band excitement to Pride. The audiences are definitely there to have a good time.

Well that's what I do, I bring the party. And yeah, I know the difference between playing Eddie's Attic and a big festival like Pride. You bring the party, you don't bring the heartaches. But I think that's good for me because I've always liked upbeat, fun music anyway, so it seems to work. Of course, I've also written plenty of singer-songwriter songs, and sometimes the two worlds converge. But for this show, it's more of a celebration. We'll do a whole lot of songs from the new record and then cherry-pick some other songs from my catalog.

So many artists are celebrating anniversaries lately. And your debut album is now at that pivotal 30th anniversary level. Are you planning anything special to celebrate the release of New Experience?

No, I don't think so. I've only felt comfortable in my own skin for a few years now, so I'm really not interesting in looking back that far. I have plenty of good new songs to play, why go back that far? It's not 1988 anymore, thank God!

Michelle Malone headlines the Nissan Partners of Progress stage on Sunday, October 14 at Atlanta Pride. For more information, please visit atlantapride.org.

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