Our #WCW today is Grammy-nominated songwriter Amanda Richards who has not only written seven albums and two EPS to date, but has also just written and will be starring in her very first full length musical "Whiskey Dixie and The Big Wet Country". The musical follows Whiskey Williams (played by Richards herself), a hot-mess country singer beating off the demons of her past, through a rough weekend of poor decisions and hangovers, and all the while tackling sexual taboos & the American patriarchy. We sat down with Amanda to learn more about how she came up with it all!
What inspired you to write Whiskey Dixie?
For years I have hoarded a collection of raunchy country songs that I would break out occasionally at late night gigs. Many of the songs were written when I used to open burlesque shows under the alter-ego “DeManda.” Last year, I went on a writing retreat with a few good friends and thought about how fun it would be to use some of those songs as inspiration to write a stage play.
How long did it take you to put the musical together? Were the songs written first or the script?
Some of the songs I have had for a few years. It took me 4 days to write the first version of the script. I have since written 21 drafts of the script. By the time the play opens, it will have been nearly 10 months since pen was first brought to page, so to speak.
You touch on some pretty taboo topics - why do you think it’s important to talk about them (ex: women’s sexuality)?
I didn’t necessarily start out with the intention of writing a provocative or hot topic play. I was separating from my partner of 7 years and I really just needed to laugh about something.
As much as I hate to admit it, I tend to draw a lot from personal experience; and my perspective and sense of humor are a bit taboo. More than anything, I just tried to approach the subject matter with as much truth and honesty as possible, and that in and of itself makes it funny and uncomfortable because most people don’t talk about this stuff casually.
Did you know you wanted to work with a woman director on this show or did it just happen? Talk about the experience of working with a mostly female cast and crew!
Serah Pope was one of the friends who joined me on the writing retreat in November. After the first official table read, she kind of claimed it. I had 4 other people offer to direct it right away but I felt it would be better to have a friend and another woman involved to maintain the playful tone of the script. I feel like men’s sexuality has a tendency to bulldoze female sexuality and this story, as uncomfortable as it is to tell, needed to be rooted in female perspective.
Do you think you’ll go back to writing albums or is another musical in the works? What’s next for Amanda Richards and Whiskey Dixie?
I produced my first full length album when I was 21 back in 2004. I thought that after I did one, I would get it out of my system and settle down into a “real job.” Seven albums, 2 EPS and a full-length musical later, I know that this is something I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life.
Music was always number one for me but it never felt complete. The making of this musical has allowed me full expression of my gifts as a writer, singer, actress, producer and artist. So far I have enjoyed every aspect of production l and I’m already thinking about writing the next one. I honestly feel as though I have finally found my true calling as a playwright and performer. I hope the audience feels the same way.
We're absolutely loving the track list which includes songs titled "The STD Song" and "Poor Personal Hygiene." Not only are they great songs musically but they are hilarious! Portland, don't miss out on your chance to see Amanda and the rest of the cast in Whiskey Dixie and The Big Wet Country at The Imago Theater from September 21st through October 13th. For more information about the musical or to buy tickets you click here.
Interview by: Ashley Kervabon-Stoyanov
Ashley Kervabon-Stoyanov is the founder and executive directress of #WomenCrush Music. When she’s not leading the #WCM team, she’s coaching artists on how to live their best lives via her business DIA Music Coaching and travelling the world with her hubby and chiweenie pup. She currently resides in NYC and you can follow her at @mrsbossladywcm.