Nashville act Herrick has gained the praise of industry figures and country music fans alike. Lead singer Donna Herrick’s vocals have been commended by George Jones ("This little girl can really sing!") and the late journalist Chuck Dauphin. Writing for Billboard, Dauphin recommended the band to his readership by saying, “Herrick may very well contain the next great female voice of this generation in Donna Herrick.”
For those wanting to break away from those tracks worn out by terrestrial radio, Herrick’s latest album “Sunderland Road” may be just what the doctor ordered. Noted for its “realms of wistful reflection” by the tastemaking publication American Songwriter, this latest effort from the band has put them back on stage.
Donna Herrick spoke to Murfreesboro Voice in advance of her June 25 show at Gallagher Unplugged. Our interview with Donna is below.
For readers of the Murfreesboro Voice who aren’t familiar with Herrick, what can you share?
Well, I’m married to the bass player, Kerry. The drummer comes from LA. His name is Richie Rivera. We’re basically a three-piece. We've been in the industry for a while. We moved here about 15 years ago… We’re an indie country band… [Our latest] album is our third country album actually, “Sunderland Road”... That one came about during COVID.
A good friend of ours who we’ve known for years—Ron “Snake” Reynolds—which if you look them up he's like, he's an icon here in town. I mean… He was just an amazing person. But, he called and said, “Let’s do some writing.” And so we ended up writing... We had gotten “Entertainers of the Year” two years in a row from the [Josie Music Awards]. He was like, “Let’s get you ‘Album of the Year’...I want to record you.”
We ended up recording the whole album... He ended up passing away in October with complications due to COVID.
You’ve been nominated for three JMAs (Josie Music Awards) this year for “Sunderland Road?” Let’s discuss the importance of that.
The JMAs are the largest independent award show... in the world. It’s specifically for independent artists. And so, this year we were nominated for “Group of the Year” and for “Single of the Year” for “Losin’ Cinderella Shoes”—that was co-written by Snake, Kerry, and myself—and for “Album of the Year.” We’re excited about that, and we’re hoping to grab that award in honor of Ron… That was something that he really wanted for us.
You’ve described Herrick as an “indie country” outfit. But the band has other musical influences?
We have our own little twist to it. The thing about being independent is that we can grow as artists. We’re country, definitely. But it's just a different sound… I do know that we have a little bit more edge to our music. We don't write to appease just the country industry. We just write what we write. It comes out country, obviously, because it's who we are. What appeals to our fans the most is the fact that we’re not your vanilla, country band, you know? A band that just sticks to the norms and tries to put themselves in a box. We definitely don't do that.
Has marching to the beat of your own drum worked for the band? Or against it?
Uhm, both. The one thing that it's done for us is that the hit writers in Nashville—we've written with many—they're very supportive of us.
The producers, the industry people, they’re like, “Go, go, go!” They're the ones that are behind us, pushing us forward. The reason why we're still here actually, just encouraging us to continue doing what we're doing. That's what country music is about. It's not one thing. It's about life. It's about living life and writing about it because we're also songwriters.
It's worked against us in the fact that it's a little bit harder… To be honest with you, I think that [having] a female lead has been harder on us than our sound being different.
Really? Please explain.
Yes. We do release to radio. We’ve charted several times. But I’ve been told, “Well, because you’re a woman, we’re only going to play one woman to ten men.” It’s still like that. It has not changed. And the theory is that the [female] vocal irritates the ear. But I’m an alto, so….
Wynonna came to a few of our shows. I remember she took me, and she hugged me. She said, “When I came to town, I had Loretta. I had all these people that were encouraging… that were already there. That has pretty much disappeared from this town. We need to support each other.”
We even noticed that in the short time we’ve been here, that it’s changed. It used to be that the artists would hang together. That’s why we hang with mostly writers. There’s no intimidation there at all, whatsoever… It’s a different world.
In terms of creativity, has that lack of support forced Herrick to create its best work?
The weirdest thing is that I’m always writing from a man’s perspective. Or, what I think a man’s perspective is, more likely. I have no idea what it really is! (Laughs) But that’s always what I find myself doing, which is odd. It’s a man’s town, it really is.
That’s never really bothered me. We’re always giving our best. We’re always bringing our A-game. We don’t compete against other artists. We’re competing against ourselves. Basically, we’re trying to be better every year, and that’s why we were so excited to record with Ron. Ron was just an amazing engineer, producer, and player.
Herrick doesn’t play a lot of shows in Nashville, but the band does tour? If avoiding Nashville, where does the band perform while on tour?
We’re staying in the South. We used to tour all over the country before COVID, which pretty much made us stationary. We’re in Spring Hill, and we’ve done a lot in Columbia, a lot in Murfreesboro. [Being stationary] has helped us with our fan base here.
Touring so much, we were ignoring local fans. So it’s been nice. In Columbia, we pack out the place because people know who we are!
Now that the pandemic worries have subsided, do you think your band will return to the normal touring schedule pre-COVID?
I don't even think COVID’s the factor anymore. It's just the expense. It’s hard to break even already, especially for independents. We’re the ones writing the checks… That's why I'm excited to be in Murfreesboro. It’s cool to be able to focus on our people in our area.
You’re coming to Murfreesboro on June 25? What's the show?
It’s “Gallagher Unplugged.” It’s [Gallagher Guitar Co.], a family owned company. They’re the ones that produce Gallagher Guitars. They have guests come in. What we do is we’ll play their guitars. It’s a cool, up close… great stage. Just really awesome people there. They love music, and they’re there to hear music. It’s a great music venue.
You can actually take a tour of the plant where they make guitars there, right on site. It’s kind of like what Gibson used to be.
We’ll be doing an hour long show. We’ll be doing our originals… and we’ll throw out a few covers, you know, for fun. Only the best covers!
Outside of touring and playing local gigs, what is Herrick currently working on?
We're constantly writing. Of course, we're writing our next album. But we have a single coming out in July. It’s the second single off of the new album… We’ll be releasing that in July, and music videos coming to support the album. We'll be putting out three singles this year, and so we'll be doing that. We're cutting the music videos for it, and also writing. And we've already cut several demos for the next album. So we're already working on the new album, which will be coming out if not next year or the year after.
You’ve shared that the old systems of support for female musicians and acts are gone. Have you considered doing something in that space?
Yeah, I really do try. It's really hard with COVID going on for the last two years. It’s been hard to really connect with people.
But we have several artist friends that we talk to all the time. Very rarely do we get a chance to work with other people. That’s something that I would like to do more of in the future, [especially since] we’re touring more locally. We’ll be able to work with more people, and bring more people into the fold and support each other.
Details about the Gallagher Unplugged show can be found via the Gallagher Guitar Co. website. For further information about Herrick, be sure to visit the band’s website and social media.