We were lucky to catch up with Megan Luttrell recently and have shared our conversation below.
Alright, Megan thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. We’d love to hear about the things you feel your parents did right and how those things have impacted your career and life.
My mother was an artist and a singer. She lived and breathed the arts. She instilled her love of art and music in me from an early age. I remember watching her perform and thinking, “Wow. That’s MY mom!” My dad was incredibly supportive of her creative pursuits, and has been nothing but supportive of my own musical journey.
Both my parents did everything they could to expose me to music and the arts, and encourage me when I showed interest. I was incredibly fortunate to be able to have piano lessons as a kid and to be in band and choir.
My parents never told me music was an impractical career. They only ever showed pride in my successes and support when I felt discouraged.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your background and context?
I am a singer-songwriter based in Lawrence, Kansas. I would say my music fits into the folk in Americana or roots genres though there is a pinch of country in there. I have been singing and making music my whole life, but I started on the guitar when I was about 14. This was about when I wrote my first song as well. I performed in bars and cafes when I went to the University of Vermont but it wasn’t until I moved to Kansas that music really took off for me.
I moved to Lawrence to attend the University of Kansas. A friend of mine encouraged me to perform at an open mic and that is where I met what I call my music family. A group of wonderful musicians at the open mic embraced me into the Lawrence music community and helped me book my first shows.
I performed throughout graduate school but it wasn’t until after graduation that music became a full-time job for me. I finished my PhD in 2018 and got a job teaching at a university in another state. However, 3 weeks into my new position my mother passed away and, since I did not qualify for any sort of leave as a brand new employee, I decided to resign so that I could have the time I needed to be with family and deal with losing my mother.
Music was a way to support myself financially. I played as many shows a week as I could manage, started/hosted an open mic, and also started a women’s songwriter showcase which I host each month at Kaw Valley Public House.
I love playing music, writing songs, and performing. However, supporting other musicians the way I was supported when I first started in Kansas is an important part of my musical journey. This is why starting the open mic and the women’s songwriter showcase was so important to me. I am also on the Executive Board of the Americana Music Academy which is a local music education nonprofit.
My music career has changed a lot this year. My son was born at the end of November 2021 and 4 months later I started a full-time job at the University of Kansas. I’m not playing nearly as much as I used to. While my son is still so little I will play when I can, but focus a lot of my musical energy on fostering a love of music in him just like my parents did for me.
Have you ever had to pivot?
I’m sure if you ask any performer or artist this question, they will undoubtedly talk about the Covid-19 pandemic as a time of huge change to the industry and the need to pivot in life as well as in career. Right before Covid hit, I had worked up a great deal of momentum in my music career. I felt like I was building a fanbase, my shows had good attendance, and I was voted Best of Lawrence Best Solo Artist for 2020. Covid shut everything down: open mic, women’s showcase, and performing in general. A lot of musicians turned to livestreaming during the pandemic. I tried it a couple times, but learned pretty quickly that I don’t like playing to the ether and interacting through a screen. So, my performing screeched to a halt and I used my time for writing and practice. I also shifted to some visual art, and made a series of drawings of animals playing different musical instruments. My favorite, the banjo-playing squirrel, is now a new line of t shirts for my music merch.
As shows started up again slowly as things opened back up, I felt like my momentum was gone and I had to start over; maybe not from scratch, but from several steps back. In March 2021, I found out I was pregnant with my son. This has led to another huge pivot in my life and career.
I played as much as I could before he was born, performing up until 2 weeks before my due date. I took several months off after he arrived, allowing myself to recover, and to revel in my new role as a mother.
I’ve started playing again, but not nearly as often as I was. Instead of 4 or 5 shows a week, I’m playing 3 to 5 shows a month. I miss playing so much, and it’s tough to get used to this new lifestyle. However, my son Rowan is the biggest joy in my life and I wouldn’t trade this new life for anything. I know music will be there when I am ready to come back to it.
Is there a particular goal or mission driving your creative journey?
One of the main missions of my creative journey is to support other artists, particularly women. I remember how I felt when I first started playing, and I will never forget the support I received from folks in the Lawrence music community. I want to give that same support to others who are just starting out. I also want to create a space for women in music to share their voices, stories, and talents. Music is still a male-dominated field. The women’s songwriter showcase at Kaw Valley Public House is an important part of my musical identity. It’s an incredibly inspiring experience. Four songwriters share their music and stories in the round. It’s a place where I have been inspired to write new music, and met people who have become dear friends.
- Website: www.meganluttrell.com
- Instagram: @meganluttrell
- Facebook: facebook.com/luttrellmegan
- Twitter: Megan_Luttrell
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