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Gretchen Peters

Photo of Gretchen PetersMichael Wilson

How would you describe your music?

Americana folk-country singer-songwriter

What is your role in your band? In the studio? In business or marketing decisions?

artist, coproducer (in studio), and record company CEO.

Describe your gear.

Gibson J-185EC acoustic guitar, Taylor 510 acoustic guitar, Gretsch electric guitar, Yamaha C7 grand piano, Neumann KM105 vocal mic (road), Neumann U87 vocal mic (studio), Roland VS2480 recording desk, various other stringed instruments (mandolin, vihuela, bouzouki, etc.)

Related Themes: Gear

Do you think being a woman and a musician is different from being a man and a musician? If so, how? Was there a moment that made a difference clear to you?

"The recording/publishing business in Nashville is a boys' club, and it was especially so when I moved here in 1987. As a woman I had to be assertive in areas where a man in a similar situation wouldn't have. Sometimes in the studio I encountered people who were ready to discount my ability to understand technical things, or play well. I had to prove my guitar playing was ""good enough"" to record on master sessions. I tended not to work with those people a second time. As an artist, I felt the pressure of the sexualization of female recording artists. I think that may be the biggest difference, and the most troubling one."

Do you see differences between generations of women musicians?

I think younger female musicians feel freer (and have more role models) to express themselves musically in a lot of areas. There seem to be more young woman instrumentalists, including drummers and lead guitar players, which was very rare when I was growing up.

Related Themes: Off The Clock

Did anyone ever give you any valuable advice about making your way in the music industry? What advice would you give to a woman musician just starting out?

"I was lucky to have great mentors along the way. The best advice came from my first publisher, who told me not to worry about conforming or trying to write songs that sounded like what was on the radio. For me that meant sticking to my guns and writing by myself, rather than co-writing (which is the norm here in Nashville). It set me on a path of independence, later as an artist, but first as a writer.

I'd reiterate this same advice to a young woman musician, and if her ambition includes being a recording artist, I'd add that she ought to think long and hard about how she feels about her image, and the possible pressure she might feel from her record company or management to ""be sexy"". This doesn't concern me from a ""morality"" standpoint - it bothers me as a feminist, as it undermines the idea that women can be talented, brilliant and successful musicians/songwriters/singers without using their sexuality to get noticed."

Related Themes: Advice

Why did you choose to play the instrument you play?

I was 8 years old and wanted to play Bob Dylan songs.

Related Themes: The First Time