Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Country in my Blood

Country in my blood

I grew up singing country.  It's a part of me that I kind of forgot about.  Some of the first songs I ever sang were by such artists as Patsy Cline, Tanya Tucker (loved her!), Shania Twain, The Dixie Chicks, and The Judds.  When I was really young, I listened to nothing BUT country music. I loved it.  I sang at Rodeos in Utah, county fairs, festivals, you name it.  I even tried out for The Country Showdown in St. George, Utah a couple years in a row.  I attached a picture of myself at the Utah State fair up in Salt Lake City, for your pleasure & my embarrassment.  I won first place, the big blue ribbon, for yodeling at a talent contest. I was 14 years old and a proud little girl in my jean jacket.  I sang a song called, "The Yodelin' blues." 

What happened to my country background you might say?  Well, I got "cool."  Or in other words, super lame. Ha. High school happened to me, and peer pressure, and "hip" music, and I no longer talked about how much I loved Tim McGraw, but rather how cool punk-rock bands were.  My friends all listened to Blink 182 and screamo-rock, as we called it.  The kind of music where there's a double kick drum, and you can't understand the words cause the singer is screaming them out.  The kind of music I listened to in my car when I snuck out at night and put in my fake nose ring. (Yes, I had a fake nose ring! I was too scared to pierce it, too scared of needles).  It's funny to think back on all the silly things I did in high school.  Who wears a fake nose ring?  Oh yeah. Me.
Anyway, as I grew older, and started to write my own songs, I began to shape my own style.  I left punk-rock behind and began to go the singer-songwriter route, which felt most natural to me then, and still remains true.  ( I like to write songs the simple way: Me and an acoustic guitar, or me and a piano). 
Now, at the good old age of 24, I finally feel like I've found myself as an artist.  It took a while, but now I know what I love, and what is "me."  I know what I want to write about, and how I want to write about it.  I know what I want to represent, and what I want to stand for in my music.  I know what instruments I want to put together to make a song.  I know when to push a song to its limits, and when to let it be as it is, simple, and mine.  
Being in the music industry for so long....the touring, the writing, the traveling, the performing.  Well, one can get a little jaded sometimes.  I needed a wake up.  I think you'll find it very surprising that I hardly have listened to music in the past year.  What do I listen to when I'm driving? On my I-pod? My computer? On a plane ride? Jogging?
I listen to talk radio.  I listen to interviews.  I listen to books on tape.
That's how jaded I was.  That's how tired I had become of a thousand songs flooding my I-pod, a million different new artists popping up everyday.  Song writing teams I had met on my ventures to make an album: Song writing teams I had respectfully declined.  Teams of writers that sickened me in the way they constructed hit songs together like a child would put clothes strategically on a paper doll.  I couldn't listen to the radio without saying to myself, "and the song's 30 seconds in so here comes the BIG chorus," or, "And the bridge is in at 2:45," or "It's gotta be at 130 BPM's (beats per minute) if it's gonna get on the radio."  
I needed a wake up.  A big reminder of why I love music, and why I do what I do.  
That wake up came the first day of the Blake Shelton tour.  The wake up was harsh and beautiful and liberating.  
I can't remember feeling so many different emotions in one day as I did when I watched Blake's show.  What an artist, and what a performer!  I don't care if you like country music or not.  A good musician needs to be recognized regardless.  That is Blake Shelton.  
Of course, I've always respected him.  I enjoyed so much being on his team on The Voice.  I enjoyed being his student, his friend, and still do.  But watching him perform like that, in front of seven thousand people...in front of a sold out crowd all singing his words...Well, that was something else.  
It not only awakened my love of music, watching him sing, but it also awakened the 14 year old Dia.  The Dia in the jean vest.  The Dia who sang on the back of a truck at the rodeo while horses ran around.  The Dia who yodeled "Cowboy Sweetheart," at a nursing home luncheon.  
Damn, there's still some country blood in me after all!  And a lot of it.
Today, as I checked my facebook, wrote an email to my mom, put my make up on, organized my laundry, (It sure piles up on tour), I had my portable I-pod radio on.  And I played The Dixie Chicks, Patsy Cline, Blake (of course), Garth Brooks, and Tom Petty.  
I sang a lot.  I cried...just a little, mind you! Woohoo, I love music!
Each new show I'm singing more and more to Blake's songs.  (Ol' Red is definitely one of my favorites).  That song reminds me why country music is great: The songs can really weave together a great story.  Every night I'm backstage singing to "She wouldn't be gone," and "Who are you when I'm not looking." Even if I'm a floor below the stage, waiting to take a shower, I'm still singing along to the music that's seeping under the door. 
I've gotten a chance, on special nights, to come out and sing with Blake on stage.  

We sing a song together called, "I will," that's on my album RED.  Singing with him each night makes me so happy (and so nervous).  The first night before the first show, Blake and I ran through the song with the band and I completely messed up the words in the first chorus.  Yikes!  It's one thing to mess up on stage alone, but when someone else is singing with ya, it's like they're depending on you in a way, like both of us are pulling on a rope in different directions, equally weighted, keeping each other balanced and on our feet.  The words that I'm singing to him, I truly mean.  For someone who's given me so much, I wish I could give it back in some way.  He gave me hope in a career in music when I was lacking faith in myself, and now he's revived that musical spirit again! 
This tour has been truly amazing, and we're not even a week in!  It feels so great to be out on the open road again, and to meet so many new people.  I feel so blessed to be here with my friends, my band, Blake and his amazing crew, and all of you who come out to the shows.  When there's 7,000 people singing along to a song in the same room, well, it really is magic.  Thank you Blake for taking us on tour & letting me dip my toes in country music again!  And thank YOU country music for sparking the fire in me once more and throwing me into a  nostalgic, happy, lazy Tuesday. 
I'm going to go through my I-pod now and flip through the bands that have truly touched me and just lay on the couch and listen to their records from front to back.  I'm going to listen to Patsy Cline again.  And tomorrow at the show in Madison, Carlo (my awesome guitar player) better play that banjo like mad on "Isabella."  I love me some banjo!  And dammit, I'm gonna buy me a cowboy hat!  




  1. Thanks Dia for sharing this story about your country musical influences and your own formation as a musician. Your music is inspiring to many people and I hope you continue to pursue your artistic passions. (cowboy hat and all, ha!)

    I wouldn't say I'm the biggest fan of country music, but I do like Johnny Cash. Maybe you should do a cover of one of his songs for your next YouTube video... ;)

  2. Hi Dia, this blog made me cry! You've worked so hard to get where you are today. It must have been so scary to go outside your comfort zone to do the Voice but look where it lead you. You've stayed true to yourself and your music is beautiful, meaningful and timeless. You inspire me every time I hear your voice. And I love country music, if it's good then who cares what it's labelled. Rock, pop or country, Dia, I will support whatever you do. XO

  3. I really enjoyed reading your blog you are definitley an inspiration! I definitley agree how you can get caught up in things and forget to just stop and listen to the music or stop and smell the roses but that is so important to do! Music can be so inspiring and it is important to be able to just get lost in a song. Also I love your explanation of going back to your roots. It is so important to look back at where we came from to know how far we've come!

  4. I love all types of music but there is something about country music that makes it special! I'm happy that you have gotten the fresh look at music that you needed. Have a wonderful time on tour!

    PS - Ol'Red is one of my favorites too!

  5. Very well written blog Dia. I can't even imagine what it must be like to be on stage like you are. It's gotta be awesome! I adore music, all kinds of music. It makes me happy, sad, reflective, etc, but all in a good way, you know what I mean? You are an amazing vocalist. Keep being YOU, jean vest and all! :)

  6. Haha, your high school self reminds me of my high school self. Glad I can laugh about it now...
    I like how the two pictures show how far you've come :)
    I'm happy that you've found your music identity! Can't wait to hear more songs and read more blogs from you!


  8. In interviews Blake has said that he was naturally listening for fellow country artists early in The Voice blind auditions. Little did he know that he would find a "hidden" one with your background, Dia!

    I'm kind of wondering if maybe you instinctively chose Blake to be your coach instead of Cee Lo because of the country connection, when it seemed that many of the other female contestants who had the option invariably chose Cee Lo over Blake.

    In other interviews, Blake has said that he had become jaded and calloused about music, too, until he met you and Xenia, in his words "seeing the fire in their eyes," and reawakening his passion for music.

    I am very happy that this tour is beneficial and therapeutic in so many ways for Blake, you, Meg, and your band. All of you deserve it. Looking forward to experiencing your show in Worcester, MA next month.

  9. Dia, it will nice to let us hear you yodel =)


  10. Please, PLEASE, don't start making country music. I'm an extreme Meg & Dia fan and it would break my heart if you guys became a country group. I enjoy the indie folk sound you guys have in Cocoon. I don't think you should stray from that. Just because you enjoy something doesn't mean it should influence you.

  11. Don't listen to anonymous! Look at Sugarland, they had a poppy album and it was fantastic and kept them active.

    Follow your heart, you're a great singer! We enjoyed getting to see you in Toledo! I Will with Blake was so cool after seeing the voice.

    Keep singing and make whatever music your heart tells you to!


  12. I agree with Minos. Look at Darius Rucker and I'm sure there are many more artists who have crossed genres. Your talent is limitless!

  13. I don't know if you read your comments as often as your sister does hers, but I figured this is the best place to say Thank You. I was just trying to do my daily workout. I'm tired. I feel like I'm getting no where. (I do have a really long way to go.) I wanted to give up and go to bed. I was about to, then your song Don't Kick the Chair began to play on my zune (which was on random), and remembered why I was doing this. I played only that song for the rest of my workout. Thank you so so much.

  14. Anonymous #1 said, "Just because you enjoy something doesn't mean it should influence you."

    WHOA. I don't think it's fair at all for fans to demand that artists refrain from experimenting and exploring, growing their interests, and yes, finding inspiration in *what they enjoy.*

    How can anyone--not just artists--find inspiration and joy in what doesn't satisfy them anymore, or are bored with, or have taken as far as they can? It would feel like a slow death. They would stop growing, basically going through the motions without passion and maybe resentment at being trapped. And eventually even their fans would wonder why the excitement is gone and the real has become fake.

    An earlier poster said she enjoyed good music regardless of the label (rock, country, pop, folk, etc.). So do I. I also applaud artists who try different things (remember David Bowie famously singing a Christmas song with Bing Crosby, of all people? It worked!) Not taking risks means you will likely miss out on finding something potentially wonderful.

    So even though I enjoy listening to songs from "Meg & Dia" and "Dia Frampton", I can see the evolution and development and hope to be enchanted by whatever else they do in the future.

  15. I am so grateful for that Blue Ribbon and all the other experiences you had leading up to RED! It has given all of us (the world at large) a talented, grateful, giving, inventive artist that we all can appreciate for a long time to come for her quality songs. Can't tell you how much I enjoy your work and all that you do! I am so glad you have been steering clear of the formula hit writers and have been true to yourself! Do what you love. All those brick walls were really to keep the ones without the desire out.
    It is funny that your Dad in an interview with a Utah TV news show (got to love Youtube) said that he always thought that you were country at heart when you were selected by Blake. Does Dad know best? I don't know.
    I love how you have so many musical influences and cleverly make them your own. I am really excited for what you will come up with next for us. Keep going Dia!!!

  16. Even though I haven't purchased any country music in years I was raised on country music also. One of my first concerts was a Garth Brooks concert. I remember Garth saying once, "You can still smell the roses when your running with them in your hand." Now, he is a great artist who did things his way. You have to be you, no matter what. Do what YOU love and don't listen to the haters.

    Now when do we get to hear a little of this yodeling that you speak of? Eh? EH?! :)

  17. Coming back to your roots: nothing beats it. I really couldn't be happier Dia! I always wondered where your country roots have gone, knowing you started off yodeling yet there was no country flair in Meg & Dia's early music! I feel so privileged at having been able to witness you guys throughout the years, growing up with you guys, and you guys musically! I feel you are SO in your element now, which is why things are beginning to set sail... Sounds like y'all been so happy lately, and just enjoying being together again as a band, even if it's not what was intended at first (as "Meg & Dia").... Y'all are doing what you love most... It's very inspiring! Keep doing what you do, and I'll keep on smiling with you!!!

  18. Dia, my thoughts are with your good friend and mentor Blake Shelton at the recent passing away of his dad. I know this must be a difficult time for you, his family, and everyone who knows them as well.

    Please take comfort in knowing that your songs have given joy and hope to Blake and countless other people, and will continue to do so. I think Rebecca Loebe said it best: "Singing is like talking, but from the deepest part of your heart." Take care.

  19. I think ohpshaw hit the nail on the head with the comment about artists having the right to grow and experiment. Your ability to translate yourself into so many different styles of music has always been the thing I loved most about your vocal style. Instead of listening to an album and having every track sound like the same three poppy cords over and over again...I get to listen to your album...to the way it glides from the poppy edge of Don't Kick the Chair, to the pure country of your duet with Blake in I Will. But I especially love the songs where it feels like you combine every together into this unique sound that I've never heard anywhere else. I love that you've been reinvigorated by your love for country music. I love that you've got someone like Blake to support you and help you make wonderful music that let's you be yourself. And I can't wait to follow you as you continue your career.

    1. I agree with you 100%.

      Also, I notice that singers often perform their songs in concert slightly differently than in the studio version. I've always wondered if it's their way of keeping a song fresh and interesting to perform after the umpteenth time, and having fun by exploring little tweaks.

      Of course, there are those rigidly purist fans who get upset when a song is not performed exactly like on the CD. If you want that, then why go to a concert at all? Just hit "play" on your machine.

      Artists are not machines, after all, and while not everyone may like the result, artists deserve artistic freedom. They may just pleasantly surprise you with what they create next.

    2. I forgot to mention that some singers can't help but sound different (usually worse) in concert, only because they can't hide behind Autotune like they can in the recording studio. I'm glad that Meg & Dia and other true artists don't rely on that nonsense.

  20. The Yodelin' Blues by The Wilkinson's?? I used to LOVE that band, I had a massive crush on the brother back in the day, ha ha. I love that you have found your country roots again, that makes me happy. I grew up listening to country and went through a stage where I ran away from country music for a few years too because I thought I was too "cool" for it, but I found my way back and love it more than ever now! Zac Brown Band, Dierks Bentley, Blake, they should make all country lovers proud. :)

    PS. Love you and Meg both so much!! And love both of your blogs. So excited to see your show in SLC!