When Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter Michelle Branch decided to “go country,” first as a duo with friend Jessica Harp in 2005, and then as a solo artist in 2007, she had no idea what she was getting into.
Michelle released two platinum-selling albums in the mainstream markets in the early-2000’s, The Spirit Room and Hotel Paper, and in 2003 won the Grammy for Best New Artist. Everything seemed to be going right for Michelle, until she headed to Nashville to make the solo country album Everything Comes and Goes for Warner Music Nashville; “Nashville” being the optimum word. Suddenly a young woman who prided herself in writing her own songs and forging her own style had to become aware that country music works differently, much differently.
As much as it irks me when mainstream/pop stars want to sully up to the lucrative pop country teat and get their fill, the debilitating manner with which most artists are dealt with by Nashville’s major labels is a much bigger problem, and Michelle Branch’s story is an excellent example. She finished recording her country album in 2007, hoping for it to come out in the Summer. Over three years later, the album is still not released. In a letter to her fans, she explains in detail why there has been so much drama with the album release, and at the same time, reveals some deep-rooted, systemic problems with how some of Nashville’s major labels interface with their artists.
It has not been the easiest ride emotionally or creatively. It seemed like every time I had a leg up and the light at the end of the tunnel was drawing nearer, something would happen and dramatically alter the course.
I am so proud of this album and I so desperately wanted to share it with you. So many people crossed my path and gave their two cents about who I was and what I should sound like, that by the end of the day my original vision had been lost and buried. For the first time ever I found myself in a position where I was trying to appease someone else. I’m heartbroken that you might never hear the original version of this album as I had intended. I’ve had my moment of grief and I think the only way I can get through it is by moving forward.
Michelle has now decided to scrap the project she has been fighting for for over 3 years, and focus on something completely new. A condensed version of the album has been released.
Nothing is more beautiful, more uplifting, and more fulfilling than the pure, unaltered germ of human creativity and inspiration. I have little doubt that the only difference between Michelle Branch and many other popular country artists is that Michelle is willing to guard that germ at any cost, and others are not. Making albums for most pure artists is like giving birth. And for Michelle, to put so much effort and time into a project, and to put her career on hold for something she believed in, only to have it ultimately fail, must feel like a miscarriage. It is yet another murder on Music Row.