AMY SPEACE

Singer-Songwriter

“What Amy Speace says – what she sings – she says with a confluence of poetry and honesty, of emotional specificity,” The New York Times.  

Amy Speace is a bit out of her time. Her voice a remarkable instrument with shades of Mary-Chapin Carpenter, Joan Baez, Eva Cassidy. Her songs – poetic yet plain-spoken explorations of the emotions and longings of her characters, short plays and stories that only hint at the whole truth. Since her discovery by Judy Collins in 2005 and her debut for Collins’ own label, Wildflower Records, she’s been heralded as one of the leading voices of the new generation of American folk singers. Her 5th studio release, “That Kind Of Girl” (2014), received rave reviews by Billboard MagazineThe New York Times and NPR.  Recorded live in 3 days with a small combo, it is spare and direct and brutally honest: the portrait of a relationship from the vantage point of “The Other Woman”.  Just as that record was being released to the world, she found herself in the studio with a surprising new project, the trio Applewood Road, comprised of herself, Amber Rubarth and Emily Barker. They had met at a coffeeshop in East Nashville and, after writing one song together, were signed to a deal with the London-based Gearbox Records and their eponymous debut was released in February 2016 to astonishing 4 and 5 star reviews. The Sunday London Times called the album “a flawless set that has to be the most haunting release of the past year” and The Telegraph wrote “There’s a Moorish magic to the harmonies of this country-folk trio that recalls the vintage appeal of the Everlys and the Andrews.”  They play Glastonbury Festival and Cambridge Folk Festival in Summer 2016 and will be touring with Mary-Chapin Carpenter.  

Born in Baltimore, Speace had a restless, artistic intelligence from the start, playing piano at 5, studying classical voice from her teens, writing poetry and plays since she could read, knowing she craved an artist life but not knowing how or where. She studied classical acting in New York City after graduating from Amherst College and then spent a few years with The National Shakespeare Company and other Off-Off Broadway classical rep companies, doing guerrilla Shakespeare in Lower East Side parking lots, working backstage on Broadway, writing poetry in cafes and feeling increasingly like success as a theater artist was just out of reach. In this season of doubt, she bought a cheap guitar at a pawn shop in the East Village and began putting her poetry to music and in no time was appearing at local folk clubs The Sidewalk Cafe, The Bitter End and The Living Room. Judy Collins’ manager caught a set of Amy’s at the 2005 SXSW conference and brought her demo back to Collins, who had just started her own imprint, Wildflower Records and within a few weeks, they’d signed Amy and put her on the road with Collins.  Her Wildflower Records debut “Songs For Bright Street” was released to rave reviews in 2006.  She followed it up in 2009 with “The Killer In Me,” recorded with Mitch Easter (REM, the db’s) which had NPR comparing her to a young Lucinda Williams.  Judy Collins named her song “The Weight of the World “one of the best political folk songs I’ve ever heard” and it was awarded the #4 Folk Song of the Decade by NYC’s premiere AAA radio station WFUV.   In 2009 Speace moved to Nashville, changing management and labels, and released “Land Like A Bird” (2011) on Thirty Tigers. In 2013, she received the best reviews of her career with "How To Sleep In A Stormy Boat,” a song cycle inspired by Shakespearean characters, winning 4 stars from Mojo Magazine and a feature on NPR’s “All Things Considered”.  Rock critic Dave Marsh, who contributed the album's liner notes, wrote "Amy Speace’s songs hang together like a short story collection, united by a common vantage point and common predicaments…it’s a gift to hear a heart so modest even when it’s wide open."  Her songs have been recorded by Judy Collins, Red Molly, Memphis Blues Hall of Fame artist Sid Selvidge, and others. 

For the past few years, Amy has also been adding teaching to her resume. She has spent over a decade teaching Performance at The Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Song School and the past 4 years at The Swannanoa Gathering in Asheville, NC. She has also taught at The Sisters Americana Folk Music Academy, Kerrville Folk Festival Song School, Lamb's Retreat For Songwriters, Berklee College of Music, Northwestern Massachusetts University, The International Folk Alliance Conference and NorthEastern Folk Alliance Regional Conference.  She leads her own intimate retreats for Songwriters, "Songs From The Well" near her home in Nashville and around the US. She is also proud to work with Songwriting With Soldiers, working closely with veterans to write songs out of their experiences.