Curate 757


Nan MacMillan

Nan MacMillan, winner of the Lyrical Singer/Songwriter Contest, has had a passion for music from a very young age. With an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in poetry writing and music, her songwriting has flourished. Inspired by nature, Nan uses it as a poetic tool in her songs by comparing her feelings and experiences to the natural world.

AIRED: November 27, 2019 | 0:06:15

(logo chiming)

(gentle guitar music)

- Alright, so we're so excited to bring you

the first annual Lyrical Singer/Songwriter Contest.

- [Nan] I had never submitted for something like this before

and I thought it would be a great opportunity.

It's just really awesome to meet other songwriters

who were struggling to find their way in the music world,

and to get people to listen to their music,

but just really talented and sweet people.

- [Emcee] The winner is Nan MacMillan!

(crowd cheers) (crowd applauds)

- [Nan] It was just kind of a whirlwind of events,

yeah, I was like, given this wonderful guitar

and was kind of getting in touch with all these people

who wanted to do interviews.

- [Jonah] Well I'm so happy

to be sitting down with Nan MacMillan.

Congratulations again. - Thank you.

- And thank you for being a part of that.

At the end it was all said and done, and we realized,

and we were like, "Oh wow, she came from Charlottesville."

(both laughing)

You know, so that was pretty remarkable.

- Oh of course, yeah, thank you for letting me

be a part of it, it was a really special night.

♪ Did you build a house ♪

♪ And did you plant a garden ♪

I was just always drawn to music as a young kid,

and I loved singing.

My elementary school had a lot of music going on.

I was in a chorus in the fourth and fifth grade.

That's when I had my first solo singing type of thing,

and that's sort of when I realized that it was something

that other people enjoyed listening to

other than just my family.

I started playing guitar when I was 12,

and then my teacher, Judy, she was a songwriter herself

and she encouraged me to go to coffee shops,

or I would sing and play with her.

And then, kind of with this encouragement

from my guitar teacher to write,

I really liked how I was able to sort of express things,

how I was feeling at my young pre-teen age, through music.

And then now, yeah, I think I just have

a different kind of deeper perspective

of maybe similar things that I was feeling back then.

I think I use a lot more kind of poetic language

in my songs now, or imagery.

♪ Did you find a home ♪

♪ And do you tend the garden ♪

♪ Do lilies bloom there in the spring ♪

- [Jonah] Your undergrad at UVA

was in poetry writing and music.

- [Nan] When I say that those are my majors,

it's a easy equation to figure out

that I'm a songwriter (laughs).

But that was really formative for my songwriting.

I was writing a lot of poems, so kind of

honing in on my lyrical abilities,

and just kind of my use of words

and getting really specific and really imagistic,

and focusing in on how to use language

to communicate the senses.

So just thinking more about how things feel and smell

and taste and sound, as I'm experiencing them.

One of my favorite poets is, her name's Louise Gluck.

She writes a lot about flowers and natural imagery

and I'm really inspired by her.

She was kinda one of the first poets I read and was like,

"Oh, yeah, I love this."

♪ Rain ♪

I use nature as kind of a poetic tool a lot in my songs.

I just sort of compare experiences or feelings

to things in the natural world, and just sort of

how the natural world can enhance your emotions

or things you might be going through.

I think it's just always been kind of a thing

that has been very deeply connected

to my writing and my songs.

(gentle guitar music)

♪ Love isn't always easy ♪

♪ Sometime it's pain ♪

Yeah, I hosted a little songwriting retreat

with two friends from the Boston area.

So it was after they had both left

and I was just kinda sitting on the couch,

and it just kind of poured out.

It was like super easy and just came very naturally,

and I wasn't really trying to think too hard

about anything with this song,

just kind of saying something very simple.

♪ Love isn't always pretty ♪

♪ Tied up in a bow ♪

♪ It's city lights coming in bright and harsh ♪

♪ Through your window ♪

But I would say my favorite songs,

and the best songs in my opinion,

are those that have come naturally like that,

that I don't have to think too much about.

Not to say that there can't be great songs

that do require a lot of work and time,

'cause I think there are a lot that are that way.

But the ones that I guess I just enjoy playing the most,

and that I feel most connected to

are those that have just kind of come out naturally.

I think oftentimes it's something

that maybe I've been processing or thinking about

or almost kind of writing in my head

without me really knowing it,

and then just when the time and the place is right,

and maybe I have some chords in mind,

it all kind of fits together.

♪ I know of a shelter, it feels like home ♪

♪ How many miles do I have to go ♪

- [Emcee] So congratulations to Nan MacMillan.

(crowd cheering)

And congrats to everyone who performed tonight,

thank you so much, everyone.

- [Nan] It definitely was this night

that I think I'll remember for a while

as this sort of turning moment in my career,

and just a lot of really wonderful opportunities

have opened up as a result.

And also just affirming in that other people

enjoy my songs and find value in them

and could connect to them. (crowd clapping)

♪ Do lilies bloom there in the spring ♪

♪ It is not that I need and answer, darling ♪

♪ I am not burdened by pain or longing, oh ♪

♪ Mm mm mm ♪

♪ Mm mm mm mm mm ♪

♪ Mm mm mm mm ♪


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