Q&A's

Q&A with Pamela Hopkins

 

With her latest single “Givin’ A Damn (Don’t Go With My Outfit),” Pamela Hopkins has earned a lot of recent industry recognition. However, her music career extends further back than just here and now and is only one layer to who Pamela Hopkins is. We recently had the chance to catch up with her and chat about her new single, her duet with Matt Dame, her 7 ½ year gig in dueling piano bars around Little Rock, the importance of working with Armed Forces Entertainment, finding the balance between work life and family life, and much more!

Music Video: "Givin' A Damn (Don't Go With My Outfit)"

www.pamelahopkinsmusic.com 

1. Tell us a little bit about your latest single “Givin’ A Damn (Don’t Go With My Outfit).”

I co-wrote this song with Dave Lenahan and Melissa Leigh last fall (2020). The title idea came from a t-shirt I had just ordered. I was showing it to Dave and Melissa over our Zoom meeting, we laughed about it and joked around about “Writing THAT song!” during our next session. We completed the current write we were working on (which will be released in late July 2021 called “Back When”). We met back up through Zoom again a week or two later and I asked about the song title, jokingly. Dave said, “Lets write it!” We started talking about ideas and what direction to take it. Since I was going to be the one that was recording it, we went with a story line that was from my personal experiences here in the small town I live in. I figured if I feel this way, I’m sure there is a ton of people who have experienced the same thing.  So far, I have heard nothing but support for the song and people tell me they love it because they can totally relate to being treated like they’re being judged by others around them. 

2. Why did you feel that it was a perfect follow-up to the success you found with “Little Things”?

I released “Little Things” the week before Valentine’s Day because I felt like it was such great love song and that it fit that holiday and springtime wedding season. When I made the rough draft plan for my song releases this year, I felt like “Givin’ a Damn (Don’t Go With My Outift)” wasn’t really holiday or season rooted, and I felt like it would be bigger than “Little Things.” It is a fun song, and I could imagine people listening to it with their windows down or the top off their jeep, etc… and just jamming in their vehicles in the nice weather. I don’t know if people do or don’t, but that is the image I had in my head when I decided this would be the next release.

3. Speaking of “Little Things”… that song was a duet with Matt Dame. How did that all come about?

Well, I had an idea of doing a duet and was searching for the male voice I had in my head singing the counterpart, as well as finding a writer to help me complete it. Long story short, I heard Matt’s song “Whiskey and Memories,” and I knew that I had to have him on the song (if he would agree). I reached out to him through Facebook (it had been recommended by a couple of our mutual friends that we should work together on a song), pitched him my idea and he agreed to help me with the song. He brought in the 3rd co-writer, Trafton Harvey, and through about an hour and a half Zoom meeting, we wrote “Little Things.” When I went to the Nashville area to record it, Matt met me at Off the Row Studio and we met for the first time face-to-face that night, took some cover pictures for the song and got in the vocal booths and did our thing. He was great to write with and even better to be in the studio with…he is a very professional and is just really good at what he does.

4. You write a lot of your songs, but what goes into your decision-making process when you do choose one from an outside writer? What are you most looking for in a song?

First thing I do when a song is pitched to me is to listen to the sound of the melody. Can I hear my voice singing it? Then I start listening to the lyrics. Do they move me? Can I relate to it? If I can’t relate to what the lyrics are saying, then I can’t sell it to an audience as being genuine to me. Does the vocal line allow me to show my vocal range? I generally look for a catchy melody—yes, I enjoy the stuff you’d hear on the radio, although I do sometimes enjoy the feel of more obscure songs.  

5. For somebody who has never heard your music, which one song would you recommend that they check out (other than these singles) that will give them a great idea of who Pamela Hopkins is as an artist?

I would recommend “Little Rock Famous.”  The entire lyrical storyline is my life. I also feel like it’s a fun song to dance around to and sing with.

6. Which song from your entire catalog stands out as your personal favorite and why?

Right now, I‘d have to say “Givin’ a Damn (Don’t Go With My Outfit).” It is full of attitude and spunk, and I think it says what a lot of people would like to say but can’t.

7. One of the unique things you do is play in dueling piano bars around Little Rock. Tell us more about that and how you became involved with it.

Long story short…I met a dueling player named David Rasico a little of over eight years ago when my husband and I visited the local dueling piano bar. I asked if I could get up and sing a song with them, and he allowed me to. When he went on his break, I asked how I could get into doing what he was doing, and I told him I could play a little piano. His answer was, “learn 30 songs on the piano and come back and see me.” So that is what I did. It took me about 4-6 months, but I had some songs, and he allowed me to get up on the stage and work on playing them and singing in front of people on Thursday nights. 

Now, I had songs, but I sure did not play them correctly. So, the next person that helped me was my good buddy, Matteo. He showed me how to play different grooves for each type of song. So, I worked daily to make sure I could play and sing at the same time. This is how I got started in performing my weekly gig that I have been doing for 7 ½ years now. 

8. Your husband Jason is a disabled veteran. First, and most importantly, thank you Jason for your service. We appreciate you! That said, you spend time every year entertaining the troops. What do those performances mean to you?

Thank you, I will pass your gratitude to my husband.  Performing with ProTour Productions and Armed Forces Entertainment is one of my favorite things to do. It means so much to me to be able to entertain the troops (overseas) that are away from their families and away from the United States. Bringing a part of our American culture to them when they can’t be here is one of the highlights of my career. I am a huge US Military supporter, and it gives me great pride to have the honor of being able to perform for them. It’s really indescribable. 

My father was also in the military, and I am so very proud to be connected to two of the most important men in my life and their selflessness and willingness to pay the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. I jump at the opportunity to go do that gig whenever it is offered to me. I’m also lucky enough to have the flexibility with my dueling piano job to go and do that.

9. For people who may be reading this that have a music dream and a family…how do you find balance between Pamela Hopkins the entertainer and Pamela Hopkins the wife and mother?

Honestly, my family comes first.  When I have free time, I work on my solo career. My dueling piano gig is one of my two full time jobs, so I do it just like I would do any other job. My hours are late, so I have days and evenings to still attend events with my kids and go on field trips, take them to lunch, etc…  Now that my kids are older, they are doing their own thing a lot of the time, so they don’t want me around as much. I only have 1 kid that is still in high school, the others are in college and/or out on their own. I have Sundays with them if they aren’t working and we go to the movies or go bowling or do something fun on that day. I also pretty much have Monday through Wednesday as well that I am free in the evenings. 

If I am doing stuff with my band and my kids are able to attend, they do. My youngest son, who is almost 17 years old now, plays several instruments and is really into learning to perform; he will help with setting up our stage and such. I love including him in what I’m doing. My daughter doesn’t really have an interest in doing what I do (she is almost 18 and getting ready to go to college), and neither do my other kids…but they’re grown and doing their own thing.

As far as being a wife, well, Jason and I have been together for over 26 years, and he supports my dreams. So outside of my dueling piano job, he is also there to help stage set up and break down and attends my solo band gigs. His/my day job is pretty flexible, and we work together a lot, so we spend a lot of time together. We own 2 territories with Balfour Graduate Sales and we both work our own territory and do business in the schools. We make our own schedules so we can carve out time when needed to just do something away from work.

This is what MY situation is…But, I would tell other people that to try and find a balance. Being a musician takes a lot of practice time and dedication to the craft as well as working daily on social media, writing songs (and all the little things that go on behind the scenes). I use a calendar and try to block time for different things I need to get done. Many times, I’m up late doing things after everyone is in bed. I’m a work-a-holic, so I mostly have to try and find time to sleep more than anything. I am working on that though—because it’s important for me to stay healthy.

10. What is the best piece of advice that you can offer an aspiring songwriter/artist just trying to break into the music business?

The best piece of advice I would say for someone trying break into the music business, is to do something to propel yourself forward every single day.  If you’re a writer, then write and find places to post your work or pitch your songs. If you’re a singer, learn an instrument and accompany yourself so you don’t depend on anyone else to get a gig. Everyone starts somewhere…getting stage time is SO important in learning how to be entertaining to a crowd. That takes time. So, find places to get your foot in the door and just show up and do your best. You have to show up for yourself because no one else will do it for you!

Learn more about Pamela Hopkins by visiting her official website at: www.pamelahopkinsmusic.com