Rising Singer/Songwriter S.G. Goodman Talks Debut 'Old Time Feeling' & Growing Up In The Rural South

S.G. Goodman


Rising Singer/Songwriter S.G. Goodman Talks Debut 'Old Time Feeling' & Growing Up In The Rural South

Get to know the Kentucky-born singer/songwriter, whose raw, country-tinged anthems both celebrate and hold her community accountable on 'Old Time Feeling'

GRAMMYs/Jun 22, 2020 - 10:04 pm

"I never want to leave this world/without saying that I love you," S.G. Goodman sings on "Space and Time," a country weeper that serves as the first song on her solo debut Old Time Feeling. "I owe my life to even my enemies/the ones who have loved me/the one who have tried." Her vibrato give the song a keening, unforgettable edge—a tribute to love and community that comes with a stab of pain.

"I have obsessive-compulsive disorder," Goodman told me matter-of-factly over Facetime from her home in Murray, Kentucky, wearing striped denim overalls and her trademark large glasses. "Space and Time," she says, "was about how easy it is to "go down a rabbit hole of feeling isolated and struggling with the thought of not really wanting to be alive at that moment." It also touches on the feelings of being a lesbian in the rural South, and thinking about acceptance, representation and isolation.

But the song is written in such an open way that it could apply to anyone. Goodman's sung it at weddings, she says. She figures she could sing it at graduations and funerals. It's especially relevant now, as the country grapples with a mounting death toll and the loneliness that comes with lockdown and social distancing. "I don't want to be an opportunist there, but it has morphed into a corona anthem, for sure," she adds. "The need to tell people you love them applies to all the moments of life."

Goodman has a knack for writing about her specific experience and communities in a way that connects across differences and state lines. Her video for her song "The Way I Talk" is set on the family farm, featuring her father, her brother and her three-year-old niece. It's a celebration of the beauty of the land, and also a bitter reflection on the exploitation of Southern labor and prejudice against rural people. "Sharecropper daughter/she sings the blues/of a coal miner's son," she spits, before the song ends in a squall of angry guitar feedback—rock speaking for and to country.

Goodman's a wonderfully easy interview. She explains with good cheer that she wanted to speak by Facetime since it was about all the human contact she would have for the day, and swinging the phone around to show me her dog sacked out on the couch. Like her music, when she talks she's funny, passionate and welcoming. The interview below has been edited for length and clarity.

How did you become a musician?

I mean, I was raised in the church. So as soon as you let anybody know you could sing, you were kind of guided into performing in the choir. And I really wasn't into it! But I learned a lot.

And it is still—I mean, I'm not really involved in church at all these days, but those songs and the melodies are, I would say the most influential thing that's ever happened to me as far as music goes. When somebody tells you that you need to sing as if God's hearing you that's pretty powerful. No matter what I believe about it now, that's never left me.

This is your first solo album. But you've been performing for a while, right?

Yeah, I'm 31. I went under a different moniker for a minute and released an album as The Savage Radley. That's where I really started writing songs that were more focused on where I'm from in my home story.

And before that, when I was around 18, I did pop music. I had a radio single that supposedly was played in 40 states.

I'm not ashamed of it or anything. I mean, you know, those were songs I wrote at like 16 to 18 years old and they weren't bad. I'm not embarrassed of it, but I definitely don't want to highlight it.

Did your niece have a good time shooting that video for "The Way I Talk"? She looked like she was having fun.

Oh, my goodness, she had a blast. She was three years old in that video. And she did wonderfully, though she's a little shy. I told the boys who were filming I said just don't talk to her, she'll warm up, and she did.

I fed her candy all day, which was half good, half bad. She would have a sugar high and you couldn't get her to focus. But most of it, if you just watch the video, we really just let her do her own thing. There were very few moments in the video that we had to actually tell her what to do.

But it was pretty simple, aside from the fact that she had to skip her nap time. So things got a little rough towards the end of the day. But she did great. I mean, she was a natural. She got in the back of my car one moment she said, "I'm the star!" I was like, "You sure are!"

It was special to have two generations of farmer's daughters in that video. I wanted to portray that.

"Red Bird Morning" is a lovely sad song. What inspired that?

I came up with most of the imagery in that song while reflecting on a breakup.

So yeah, I was recently dumped. And, when you're dumped, you kind of become a detective, as you try to go back to instances where you think things went wrong. And I thought about how I got on someone's bad side for leaving the day before my birthday to go to the Standing Rock protest. So the person in the song is traveling, and it's actually about me on my way to Cannon Ball on the Standing Rock reservation.

And also, you know, there's an old saying in the South that red birds like cardinals have a special spiritual meaning. The red birds are loved ones who have left you and are visiting you. And I was on my back porch while I was writing that and—obviously I was dumped, so I needed comfort.

I think if you're going to get spiritual and think about spiritually impactful moments, you have a really good chance of that happening after getting your heart broken.

So was "Red Bird Morning" something you just wrote recently? How long have you been working on the songs on the album?

Oh, they're all over the place honestly. "Red Bird Morning" would have been written in 2018. There's a song on the record "Supertramp" that would have been written in 2011. And my song "Tender Kind" I wrote in the studio.

I'm not a factory when it comes to writing. I might have a verse for a few years, and it's just not the right time for the rest to present itself. I'm not one of those people who writes five song a day.

Are there people who write five songs a day?!

There are! There are people who write at least a song a day or more. And I just don't, that's just not how my process is. And I used to beat myself up about it, but I really don't anymore. Because I always say, if a song is meant to stay around, you won't forget it. And if you do, then it wasn't meant to be.

"Old Time Feeling" is a pointed song about what people in cities think of people who live in rural areas. What do you think northerners or people in cities need to know about the South?

People often use stereotypes when talking about the South. And a lot of people are very shocked when certain legislation passes in the South.

And people don't really want to understand the way our state governments work and who's involved in them, how they came to power, and the out-of-state money that goes into making sure there's a large population of people who are forced into cheap labor. So many states in the South have become right-to-work states. A lot of the times when people look at certain things going on in the South it comes from a place of judgment, rather than from trying to understand the complexity there.

I'm not trying to be an ambassador or something like that. But people are often not in tune with the progressive initiatives that are happening in the South right now with different politicians and different organizations who are of real positive change for the people.

You know, I live in Kentucky. I want Mitch McConnell out. I want people from other states to understand that we need to work together across state lines to help these political initiatives. I worked on the Andy Beshear campaign [which won the Kentucky governorship for Democrats in 2019]. But I am really outraged politically right now, and I can't canvas.

Is it a hard time to be releasing a debut album?

There's a lot of conflicting arguments around that. But right now people have a lot more time to listen. And they might take the time to listen a little harder. It's not like they're just playing a playlist while they're driving to work and drinking their coffee and trying to get away. People might actually be listening while sitting still right now. So that's encouraging.

For a person who loves to perform, and loves to meet people…but I feel like my work will stand on its own. And I will get back out there and get to organically meet people through shows again. It is a scary time. But I really don't think it would serve me at all to focus on it, so I'm not.

Phoebe Bridgers Talks 'Punisher,' Japanese Snacks & Introducing Conor Oberst To Memes


GRAMMY SoundChecks With Gavin DeGraw

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

On Aug. 28 Nashville Chapter GRAMMY U members took part in GRAMMY SoundChecks with Gavin DeGraw. Approximately 30 students gathered at music venue City Hall and watched DeGraw play through some of the singles from earlier in his career along with "Cheated On Me" from his latest self-titled album.

In between songs, DeGraw conducted a question-and-answer session and inquired about the talents and goals of the students in attendance. He gave inside tips to the musicians present on how to make it in the industry and made sure that every question was answered before moving onto the next song.


Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year


Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year

Annual star-studded gala slated for Nov. 4 in Las Vegas during 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Week celebration

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2017 - 01:36 pm

 Internationally renowned singer/songwriter/performer Juan Gabriel will be celebrated as the 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year, it was announced today by The Latin Recording Academy. Juan Gabriel, chosen for his professional accomplishments as well as his commitment to philanthropic efforts, will be recognized at a star-studded concert and black tie dinner on Nov. 4 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nev. 

The "Celebration with Juan Gabriel" gala will be one of the most prestigious events held during Latin GRAMMY week, a celebration that culminates with the 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards ceremony. The milestone telecast will be held at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Nov. 5 and will be broadcast live on the Univision Television Network at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central. 

"As we celebrate this momentous decade of the Latin GRAMMYs, The Latin Recording Academy and its Board of Trustees take great pride in recognizing Juan Gabriel as an extraordinary entertainer who never has forgotten his roots, while at the same time having a global impact," said Latin Recording Academy President Gabriel Abaroa. "His influence on the music and culture of our era has been tremendous, and we welcome this opportunity to pay a fitting tribute to a voice that strongly resonates within our community.

Over the course of his 30-year career, Juan Gabriel has sold more than 100 million albums and has performed to sold-out audiences throughout the world. He has produced more than 100 albums for more than 50 artists including Paul Anka, Lola Beltran, Rocío Dúrcal, and Lucha Villa among many others. Additionally, Juan Gabriel has written more than 1,500 songs, which have been covered by such artists as Marc Anthony, Raúl Di Blasio, Ana Gabriel, Angelica María, Lucia Mendez, Estela Nuñez, and Son Del Son. In 1986, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley declared Oct. 5 "The Day of Juan Gabriel." The '90s saw his induction into Billboard's Latin Music Hall of Fame and he joined La Opinion's Tributo Nacional Lifetime Achievement Award recipients list. 

At the age of 13, Juan Gabriel was already writing his own songs and in 1971 recorded his first hit, "No Tengo Dinero," which landed him a recording contract with RCA. Over the next 14 years, he established himself as Mexico's leading singer/songwriter, composing in diverse styles such as rancheras, ballads, pop, disco, and mariachi, which resulted in an incredible list of hits ("Hasta Que Te Conocí," "Siempre En Mi Mente," "Querida," "Inocente Pobre Amigo," "Abrázame Muy Fuerte," "Amor Eterno," "El Noa Noa," and "Insensible") not only for himself  but for many leading Latin artists. In 1990, Juan Gabriel became the only non-classical singer/songwriter to perform at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and the album release of that concert, Juan Gabriel En Vivo Desde El Palacio De Bellas Artes, broke sales records and established his iconic status. 

After a hiatus from recording, Juan Gabriel released such albums as Gracias Por Esperar, Juntos Otra Vez, Abrázame Muy Fuerte, Los Gabriel…Para Ti, Juan Gabriel Con La Banda…El Recodo, and El Mexico Que Se Nos Fue, which were all certified gold and/or platinum by the RIAA. In 1996, to commemorate his 25th anniversary in the music industry, BMG released a retrospective set of CDs entitled 25 Aniversario, Solos, Duetos, y Versiones Especiales, comprised appropriately of 25 discs.   

In addition to his numerous accolades and career successes, Juan Gabriel has been a compassionate and generous philanthropist. He has donated all proceeds from approximately 10 performances a year to his favorite children's foster homes, and proceeds from fan photo-ops go to support Mexican orphans. In 1987, he founded Semjase, an orphanage for approximately 120 children, which also serves as a music school with music, recreation and video game rooms. Today, he continues to personally fund the school he opened more than 22 years ago.   

Juan Gabriel will have the distinction of becoming the 10th Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year honoree, and joins a list of artists such as Gloria Estefan, Gilberto Gil, Juan Luis Guerra, Julio Iglesias, Ricky Martin, and Carlos Santana among others who have been recognized. 

For information on purchasing tickets or tables to The Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year tribute to Juan Gabriel, please contact The Latin Recording Academy ticketing office at 310.314.8281 or

Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013
Grizzled Mighty perform at Bumbershoot on Sept. 1

Photo: The Recording Academy


Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.

By Alexa Zaske

This past Labor Day weekend meant one thing for many folks in Seattle: Bumbershoot, a three-decade-old music and arts event that consumed the area surrounding the Space Needle from Aug. 31–Sept. 2. Amid attendees wandering around dressed as zombies and participating in festival-planned flash mobs to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," this year the focus was on music from the Pacific Northwest region — from the soulful sounds of Allen Stone and legendary female rockers Heart, to the highly-awaited return of Death Cab For Cutie performing their 2003 hit album Transatlanticism in its entirety.

The festival started off on day one with performances by synth-pop group the Flavr Blue, hip-hop artist Grynch, rapper Nacho Picasso, psychedelic pop group Beat Connection, lively rapper/writer George Watsky, hip-hop group the Physics, and (my personal favorite), punk/dance band !!! (Chk Chk Chk). Also performing on day one was Seattle folk singer/songwriter Kris Orlowski, who was accompanied by the Passenger String Quartet. As always, Orlowski's songs were catchy and endearing yet brilliant and honest.

Day one came to a scorching finale with a full set from GRAMMY-nominated rock group Heart. Kicking off with their Top 20 hit "Barracuda," the set spanned three decades of songs, including "Heartless," "Magic Man" and "What About Love?" It became a gathering of Seattle rock greats when, during Heart's final song, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready joined for 1976's "Crazy On You."

Day two got off to an early start with performances from eccentric Seattle group Kithkin and Seattle ladies Mary Lambert and Shelby Earl, who were accompanied by the band Le Wrens. My highlight of the day was the Grizzled Mighty — a duo with a bigger sound than most family sized bands. Drummer Whitney Petty, whose stage presence and skills make for an exciting performance, was balanced out by the easy listening of guitarist and lead singer Ryan Granger.

Then the long-awaited moment finally fell upon Seattle when, after wrapping a long-awaited tour with the Postal Service, singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard returned to Seattle to represent another great success of the Pacific Northwest — Death Cab For Cutie. The band celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their album Transatlanticism by performing it from front to back. While a majority of attendees opted to watch the set from an air-conditioned arena, some of us recognized the uniqueness of this experience and enjoyed the entire set lying in the grass where the entire performance was streamed. 

Monday was the day for soul and folk. Local blues/R&B group Hot Bodies In Motion have been making their way through the Seattle scene with songs such as "Old Habits," "That Darkness" and "The Pulse." Their set was lively and enticing to people who have seen them multiple times or never at all.

My other highlights of the festival included the Maldives, who delivered a fun performance with the perfect amount of satirical humor and folk. They represent the increasing number of Pacific Northwest bands who consist of many members playing different sounds while still managing to stay cohesive and simple. I embraced the return of folk/pop duo Ivan & Alyosha with open arms and later closed my festival experience with local favorite Stone.

For music fans in Seattle and beyond, the annual Bumbershoot festival is a must-attend.

(Alexa Zaske is the Chapter Assistant for The Recording Academy Pacific Northwest Chapter. She's a music enthusiast and obsessed with the local Seattle scene.)

Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Neil Portnow and Jimmy Jam

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images


Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Jimmy Jam helps celebrate the outgoing President/CEO of the Recording Academy on the 61st GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Feb 11, 2019 - 10:58 am

As Neil Portnow's tenure as Recording Academy President/CEO draws to its end, five-time GRAMMY winner Jimmy Jam paid tribute to his friend and walked us through a brief overview of some of the Academy's major recent achievements, including the invaluable work of MusiCares, the GRAMMY Museum, Advocacy and more.

Portnow delivered a brief speech, acknowledging the need to continue to focus on issues of diversity and inclusion in the music industry. He also seized the golden opportunity to say the words he's always wanted to say on the GRAMMY stage, saying, "I'd like to thank the Academy," showing his gratitude and respect for the staff, elected leaders and music community he's worked with during his career at the Recording Academy. "We can be so proud of what we’ve all accomplished together," Portnow added.

"As I finish out my term leading this great organization, my heart and soul are filled with gratitude, pride, for the opportunity and unequal experience," he continued. "Please know that my commitment to all the good that we do will carry on as we turn the page on the next chapter of the storied history of this phenomenal institution."

Full Winners List: 61st GRAMMY Awards