Photo: Weiss Eubanks

From DC To Nashville And Back: Maggie Rose Rocks The Country Scene

She’s played to huge crowds and toured with some of the biggest stars of country, from Martina McBride to Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. But this month, singer and songwriter Maggie Rose will play an intimate show at an intimate venue in our neck of the woods. Her appearance at The Barns at Wolf Trap on October 28 is a homecoming of sorts, because the DC area is her neck of the woods too.

The Potomac, Maryland native (born Margaret Rose Durante) was, in her words, “a Catholic school girl from kindergarten to senior year.” Until she was 15, her singing career consisted of performing with choirs and at various church events. Then a family friend introduced her to members of the B Street Band, a Bruce Springsteen tribute band, and Rose began performing with them. It was a very different setting than she was used to.

“It was a crazy juxtaposition with my life and the lifestyle I’d come from,” she says. “The experience benefited me tremendously. I don’t think a lot of 15-year-olds get that opportunity – period. It was my education on how to be a performer, and the way that music can affect people.”

Rose stuck with the B Street Band for a couple of years, and she started to write her own songs that were then incorporated into the band’s sets. After graduation, she left the DC area to attend Clemson University in South Carolina, but it wasn’t long until she once again felt the pull of the music business. After getting some of her demos into the hands of famed producer Tommy Mottola, Rose was asked to audition for him in New York – and he liked what he heard.

“I ended up leaving Clemson after a year-and-a-half because I got this undeniable opportunity from Tommy Mottola,” Rose says. “He quickly signed me to Universal Records. Given my family, I definitely had to have some groundwork laid down before I just slung a guitar over my shoulder and was like, ‘I’m going to Nashville. I’m dropping out. Thanks for the education.’”

After her move to Nashville, Rose’s first album, Cut to Impress, was released in 2013, to critical and commercial success. In 2016, she followed it up with an EP called The Variety Show – Vol. 1, which revealed more of her diverse musical influences. Rose says that even though she has those eclectic tastes, country music is what spoke to her when she was starting out.

“It was just the relatability of it to me at the time, for me as an 18-year-old. I think a lot of it also had to do with what I grew up listening to. I grew up listening to everything, but country was huge in our area. I mean, it’s just gotten bigger, but the artists I listened to were Shania Twain and Faith Hill.”

Rose’s latest release, Dreams > Dollars (pronounced More Dreams Than Dollars), is an EP that came out in May and features the single “Body on Fire.” While she tours to support this latest release, she’s also working on her songwriting career at the same time, writing songs for herself as well as other artists.

“I think I’m probably as serious about my writing career as I am about my artist career,” she says. “It’s one of the ways I make my living, but I also love the ability to get out of my own head. I definitely get sick of writing for the sole purpose of just writing for my project, or what I’m going through. I love helping other artists find their voice, and it also lets me bust out of whatever genre I’m currently recording in and making a project for, and get some perspective.”

Rose’s next project is the culmination of an idea she’s had for 10 years, ever since landing in Nashville, she says. She’s put together a group of musicians from various bands and combined them into her backing band for this recording.

“It’s a live, 15-piece band in the studio. No overdubs, no Auto-Tune, no B.S. It’s been difficult, but it’s a good challenge.”

Rose seems to thrive on those challenges. And she doesn’t let the ups and downs of the music business dictate her next move. She lets the music move her, she says.

“You don’t need to wait around for someone to tell you what to do or when to release something. If you make music, that’s just what you do.”

Catch Maggie Rose at The Barns at Wolf Trap on Saturday, October 28 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22-$25. Learn more about Rose at www.maggierosemusic.com.

The Barns at Wolf Trap: 1635 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; 703-255-1900; www.wolftrap.org