Parker McKay “Pity Party”

“I hate to burst your balloons, well actually, I don’t”.

Northeast native, singer-songwriter, Parker McKay has established herself in Nashville as the breath of fresh air that pop-country needs. Her eclectic influences ranging from HAIM, John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Shania Twain, and even Eminem are evident in her new take on country that is honest, conversational and has compelling melodies. Her powerhouse voice and engaging phrasing tie it all together.

“Pity Party” “I would wish you the best but you already had it” … oh my, you got my full attention with this lyric … the new song is the perfect mix of straight forward lines with a perfect dash of sass. What lyric stands out for you?

Thanks! My personal favorite line in this song is, “I hate to burst your balloons, well actually, I don’t”. As women, we are taught that we are responsible for making everyone else feel comfortable. Empathy is incredibly important, of course, but we don’t have to let people walk all over us either.

“‘This Far’ came from wanting to write a nuanced song that shows the strength in vulnerability when fighting for someone who you think is worth the fight. It’s about asking for what you want and practically approaching the complexities of relationships. Too often, women in country are expected to sing about a relationship happening to them, but this is about the woman happening to the relationship. ‘This Far’ is about the part where the hard work comes in and when you come to the table to lay everything out.” -Parker McKay

“Parker McKay lays it all on the line in her new single “Honest.” The stirring breakup ballad has the Nashville-based singer-songwriter giving up on a relationship.”-Billboard’s Annie ReuterMcKay further explains that fighting in a relationship is often a positive sign that both parties care. On “Honest,” the female character no longer wants to fight for her relationship.”

“It’s when the desire to fight goes away that the real problem reveals itself. That’s when you know you have to cut your losses and be honest yourself and with each other. That’s the last bit of love you can give, omitting the sugarcoat. It doesn’t have to always be an ugly ending and I think it’s important to shed light on those situations.” -Parker McKay

How does pre-saving an upcoming release help an artist?

Pre-saving is incredibly important for artists because it lets the streaming services know how excited your fans are for your music!

Yikes! Your bio says Amy Grant’s “Baby Baby” has been stuck in your head for six years. On a serious note, which artists from your hometown of Pittsburgh have influenced your songwriting the most?

That song will be in my head until the day I die. I’m sure of it. I grew up two streets over from Christina Aguilera’s house RIGHT when she was launched into superstardom. I remember thinking it was the coolest thing that someone from where I was from could conquer the world.

I will NEVER forget the first time I said, “I want a grammy” in 2000 as I watched her walk to the stage in her iconic Versace dress to accept her trophy for Best New Artist.

From the clubs of New York City to Nashville which are your favorite venues to play?

Rockwood Music Hall in NYC has a really special place in my heart. It’s where I played my first real show and where I play when I go back to visit. The Bluebird is also really special because it is iconic and the people who come to listen really hang on your every word.

Professional horseback rider. What drew you to become a rider? How did you decide to transition to a career in music?

Almost a professional! I rode for many years and was incredibly serious about it. At some point, though, it was clear that I couldn’t divide my attention any longer if I really wanted to pursue a career in music. I really miss my horses and the therapeutic nature of being around them every day but I definitely made the right decision.

How did being named last year to CMT’s Artist Discovery lineup help your music reach more fans?

CMT is incredible. Leslie Fram has done so much for so many artists over the years and her impact grows by the day. Working with CMT has helped me meet so many people and expose me to people all across the country. I absolutely love everyone over there.

Which Sheryl Crow song is your favorite to cover on stage?

Sheryl Crow is the number 1 rockstar of all time in my eyes (maybe tied with Steven Tyler). I have been obsessed with her for my whole life. It’s so hard to pick a favorite but there is something about ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ that just kills me. She sounds so cool and raw in it and it grooves so hard.

2020. Ironic, that this year, the one with potential to help us see things more clearly (after all, it is ‘20–20'), has seen the city of Nashville torn apart by a tornado and now the country by the coronavirus. How can music help us rebuild, physically and mentally, as we are needing social distance from one another?

Woof. Music is the universal language. You can already see it comforting people across the globe and uniting our international community. I was so incredibly moved by the videos of people in Italy singing on their balconies. Music can soothe in ways that nothing else can and lift our spirits when we are most down. It’s going to be incredible to hear what songwriters produce in this period.

Getting involved in the recent Democratic primary. How do you think the elections will be affected by all that is happening in the country?

Another woof. I really can’t say. When something like this happens though, it becomes incredibly apparent who is equipped to lead the nation and who is not. It is supremely important that a leader always promotes unity and acts humbly at any time but especially in a crisis. I hope that people can understand that when an effective government is in place, things that need to get done can actually get done. Rep. Katie Porter of Orange County, CA shined a light on how important it is to vote for people like her at the local and state level because they are the ones who hold people accountable in congressional hearings regarding matters that affect the entire nation.

You mentioned, on an Instagram post, that in 2019 you listened to yourself more. What prompted this and the desire to quieting even more noise this year?

The older I get, the more I realize that the only way I’ll continue to be happy is to do whatever it is that I really want. Tamping down risks and hedging bets has never worked that well for anyone I really aspire to be like. Life is simply too short.

Saw you completed training to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for abused or neglected children. How did you become involved with the program?

Yes! I had heard about it from two friends and I knew it was something I could probably offer a lot to. Mediation, pragmatism, and empathy are all things that I have a particularly large capacity for and I really want to be able to extend myself to those who need an advocate. CASA does life-changing and life-saving work and I am beyond proud to be a part of the organization.

Anything else you’d like to share with fans as we face the many difficult days ahead dealing with the unknown because of the spreading virus and economic uncertainty?

Stay safe, be kind to people and practice gratitude. We will all get through this together if we stay connected and lift each other up. I’m using a lot of this time to catch up with family and friends that I don’t always get to talk to. We are seeing a lot of beautiful acts of humanity in this time which gives me hope that we will continue to help each other get back on our feet once things start getting back to normal. Much love!

Music Feature Writer on Medium

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