Bonnie Bishop infuses her heartfelt music with the blues, and that’s especially true on “Free,” the title track of her latest album. Although the Nashville singer-songwriter celebrated the record release about a year ago, the empowering message remains just as strong today.
Just before hitting the road for some Texas gigs, Bishop chatted with CMT Edge by email about the message of “Free,” the connection to her audience and the journey to being single again.
CMT Edge: How would you describe your frame of mind when you wrote “Free”?
Bishop: I wrote “Free” in the aftermath of my divorce and subsequent “surrender point,” as I lovingly refer to it. … I was just beginning to understand the importance of loving myself, as we can’t truly love another person until we learn to be loved by God and to love ourselves, and I was trying to stand on my own for the first time — no husband, no boyfriend. … It was a really empowering time in my life because I was learning to trust myself and be confident in who I was, rather than looking for someone else to make me feel good about myself. I’m still enjoying the journey as a single gal!
What is it about the message of the song that still resonates with you?
The power of standing on my own two feet and loving myself without needing someone else to make me feel validated. I want to find someone to love and share my life with, but in the meantime, I’m really enjoying having the confidence and independence to pursue life on my own terms.
I understand you have a song coming up in the Nashville TV series. What can you share about that song?
“The Best Songs Come From Broken Hearts” is one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written because it totally captures the raw emotion I was going through during that same period. All the songs on the Free record were part of my divorce recovery, if you will, and all have the same empowering message of surrendering my heart to God, learning from my mistakes and finding love within myself. It is also a beautiful story of the writer’s journey, how we take our deepest emotions and experiences and channel them into music and lyric. The creation of this song was the most painful but honest writing experience I’ve ever had.
You’re heading out on tour in a few days. Why is playing live a rewarding experience for you?
I love to play my music live for people because it gives me the immediate gratification of connecting with people emotionally and musically. You can see it on their faces, hear it in their applause and receive it in their hugs and words after the show. It’s the reward of knowing what you are doing is making a difference in people’s lives (because so far it sure as hell hasn’t been about the MONEY, lol!).
Playing live helps me keep a pulse on what people’s needs are because they respond to things that speak to them. As a writer-musician, I feel like I live an alternative world. … I’m dancing out in the ether and thinking about my feelings all the time. But the real world is the people in the audience who are getting up early every day, going to work, raising families, etc. I make music for others, so it’s important to me to stay in touch with what is important to them.