Today, I am thrilled to champion a soulful friend and fellow creative, Allison Moorer. Her work as a Grammy- and Academy Award nominated songwriter, celebrated vocalist and debuting author, with raw and honest beauty, captures what The New Southern movement is all about– acknowledging a complex history, threading connection through creativity and honoring the richness of spirit and resilience this region holds.
On the other side of change is growth. Those who walk through life pivots and seasons of transition can learn to recognize and appreciate this through their rear-view mirror. I am a firm believer that through all of our changes, whether they are filled with choice or trauma, we have the option to stand in our truth and weave our stories into a tapestry of connection and healing for others. Allison’s story is a beautiful collection of humanity filled with hope, courage and resilience in the face of some of life’s hardest lessons.
Allison’s words extend directly from her heart so you won’t have to travel far to hear her beauty in the form of song or to grow alongside her as she walks you through her life and inspirations. Her memoir, “Blood,” debuts next week on October 29th, and is accompanied by a soulful album.
Alyssa Rosenheck: How do you see creativity as an important force in today’s South?
Allison Moorer: It is the perfect time for Southerners to unite in what we know to be our hallmark: drawing on our deep appreciation for beauty, tradition and community in order to get the job done, whatever it may be and however we must, with style, manners and grace. Our can-do ethic, coupled with our relaxed way of life and our willingness to dig into, and even love, a seriously complex heritage has fostered wild and passionate creativity in us for generations. Art encourages us to ask questions. It sometimes gives us answers. And it always leads the way in any movement.
AR: How have life pivots helped you be vulnerable enough to share your creativity?
AM: Gosh. My life pivots have mostly not been ones I’ve chosen, but I am proud to say that I’ve been able to figure out how to make the turns when they’ve been put in front of me. To date, I was required to pivot the most when my son was diagnosed with autism at 23 months. I had to refigure out my life in every area. As a result of that humbling yet empowering experience, and as a result of what our lives are sometimes like due to the challenges his autism can present, I am much less concerned with creating what looks like a perfect picture. My willingness to tell the truth about it all makes me incredibly vulnerable and honestly, scares me to death sometimes, because there are those in the world who always want to poke holes in what you’re doing and call you wrong or even bad if you show any flaws. The beautiful thing about it is that most folks cheer you on when you admit that you’re not doing it all impeccably but that you’re trying your damnedest. For instance, I’m okay with doing a weekly blog that I only take an hour to write simply because I don’t have any more time than that to devote to it. It isn’t perfect, but it is authentically me, on that day, tussling with whatever the topic is. Most of the time, someone lets me know that they relate to it. In my opinion, my vulnerability is the thing that most shines through in my current work.
I think you reach a point when you realize that everything isn’t going to be perfect and that it really isn’t supposed to be. Couple that realization with getting up every day and doing your best, truest, most full-hearted work, and people will eventually notice if you’re sending it out to the world. That’s an added bonus to treating the work as its own reward. I don’t ever want to present an image that says I’m not struggling to get through the day like everyone else is. I like sharing with people and getting feedback and hearing those stories! Most people are more comfortable sharing their stories with those who don’t seem as if they’re floating above it all. It is my utmost hope that my writing and my perspective, which now starts from a vulnerable place, can be of service and help in the world.
AR: You wrote:
“The most fascinating thing about letting this memoir into the world is that it seems to help folks feel freer to talk about their own traumas, their own childhoods, their own wounds and heartbreaks, and if that isn’t the job of art, to send something out into the world that is a reflection in whatever way that it is, I don’t know what else its job could be.”
...Can you expand on how your creativity has allowed you to connect with others, and how that has influenced how you process your own pain and trauma? Was music and writing an avenue for that from the beginning?
AM: All I know about what art really does is that it functions as a mirror. As I see it, it’s the job of the artist to reflect the world in which she lives—art gives us community, a context, and helps us feel less alone. It also helps us process our thoughts and feelings; when a talented artist is able to express something in a way that is relatable, the world becomes more bearable. I don’t believe that art is a negotiable commodity — it’s as necessary as air and water. Nothing makes me happier or more fulfilled than when I learn that something I’ve created out of my own mess of a world has helped someone through their own. I figure the only reason I’ve been given such a fantastic, extraordinary life with all of the crazy and wonderful and awful facets that it holds is so that I can reflect it out and be a connector.
Making art gives me a purpose, gives my life its shape and gives me a place to put my hardships and joys. I grew up singing, and I always knew it was the best feeling in the world to me. Writing is harder but being able to process my thoughts and feelings in a way that holds truth and/or beauty is my honest occupation in this life, and besides trying to be a good mother and decent person, it’s the thing at which I work the hardest.
AR: We love your #FiveForFriday. What is currently inspiring and or fueling your day currently?
AM: What inspires me right now is digging deep into my spirituality and emotional matters. My Five for Friday is something I promised myself I’d do on social media this year to share the little joys I find on my journey through the world. When I’m present, I am uplifted by this beautiful and miraculous place and the beings in it, and I want to give that feeling away constantly.
But there is the converse to consider. I’ve thankfully become mature enough to be able to hold opposites in my mind, and the opposite of the beauty is the tragedy. So to try to balance it all, I make a practice of going inward daily to make sure I’m connecting to my center and living by what my true intentions are. I write them down. It’s so easy to get off track in this world — I find that returning to my center, doing it consciously, checking in with myself, and making sure I do it several times a day fuels me. My friends, my sister, and my husband are a great support system too. Most of the people who love me allow me to be curious and be my real, kooky, imperfect self, which makes life feel like a worthwhile, authentic experience. It is my daily aim to make everything I do as close to a work of art as possible. Everything counts, and that takes serious presence. In order to have that presence, I have to check in and center all the time.
AR: What has supporting or being supported by women looked like in your life, professionally or otherwise? How do you want to continue to support women in your life?
AM: The women in my family were very important for the formation of my identity as an adult. My mama was smart and highly capable, which informed my own work ethic. After she died, I found that I gravitated toward women who were independent, open-minded and seemed to know how to healthily balance their work and family lives. At present, I feel incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by wonderfully talented, smart and soulful women who are all on their own voyages of self-discovery. In my opinion, the most important thing that I can do to foster a strong community of women is to share it all: love, information, time, helpful tips and wealth of whatever sort–be it knowledge, connections or actual financial support for projects and heart-work that needs to be done. But sharing our dreams with each other and giving those dreams space to come to fruition may be the most important form of support of all. Our dreams give our lives their shape, and when we’re given the space to say aloud what they are, we’re much more likely to manifest them. I think it’s highly important for us to check in with each other, to ask what’s going on and create the space and time to hear and honor the answers. This allows us to really learn about one another so we know how to fully show up and to constantly champion achievement, even if that achievement is just making it through one more day without breaking a heel.