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Back on the stage

Madison Cunningham hits Johnny Brenda’s stage on Oct. 24

Grammy-nominated Madison Cunningham will be performing with SG Goodman at Johnny Brenda’s on Oct. 24. Image | Claire Marie Vogel

Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Madison Cunningham will be at Johnny Brenda’s on Oct. 24 along with her labelmate SG Goodman. Cunningham and SG Goodman will be playing in 26 cities for the “All I’ve Ever Known” tour, including a stop at Madison Square Garden where Cunningham will be opening for Harry Styles in October. 

Cunningham’s debut LP, “Who Are You Now,” was nominated for Best Americana Album at the 2020 Grammy Awards. Earlier this year, the critically acclaimed singer-songwriter wrote a new song “Broken Harvest” for NPR Morning Edition’s Song Project. She later performed the song on “The Late Late Show with James Corden.”

Tickets for the Oct. 24 show in Philly can be found at johnnybrendas.com.

PW recently caught up with Cunningham to talk about her music and upcoming show.

Let’s go back to the beginning. How did you get your start in music? Who were some of your earliest influences?

I was born into a musical family, Southern California raised, oldest of five girls.

My Dad was really the first one that pushed me into it. He’s a guitar player/musician himself, and I kind of just mimicked everything he did and touched when I was a kid. Guitar being the main thing. Watching his love for the instrument launched me into my own discovery. I don’t know that I ever thought of it as a start to a career, I just knew that I had an unending curiosity for playing and writing. 

In my “fresh out of high school” years, Jeff Buckley, Joni Mitchell, Al Green and the Beatles were among my top influences. 

Talk a little about your creative process. What inspires you when you’re writing a song or when you’re determining which songs to include on an album?

It’s all about the motive. Whether it’s in the rhythm, the story, or the melody, the song has to know itself internally and what it’s about, and why it came to be. Even if it’s “about” ambiguity. That trinity of qualities in a song motivates me to write it. I usually have to be hooked in by one or all of them. 

Madison Cunningham said her Grammy-nominated album, ‘Who Are You Now,’ took her for a ride – in the best way. Image | Claire Marie Vogel

Your debut LP, “Who Are You Now,” was nominated for Best Americana Album at the 2020 Grammy Awards. Talk a little about how the album came together and what it meant to earn a Grammy nomination.

That album took me for a ride, and I mean that in the best way. I wrote and rewrote the songs just to find the right 10 to step out with for the first time. I had put out other records when I was younger, but I really considered this one to be my debut. It utterly exhausted me.

I was more stretched than I’d ever been as a songwriter and guitar player. Up until the very moment it was released, I had no idea if whether I worked hard on it or not would matter to anyone. And once out in the world, the response was beyond what I could’ve imagined. There was a real difference in opportunity and possibility after it arrived, which was all I could’ve hoped for. 

Your “All I’ve Ever Known” tour includes 26 cities and an appearance opening for Harry Styles. What’s it like to be back on the road and performing before live audiences again? What will your fans see when they show up at Johnny Brenda’s on Oct. 24?

I’ve been surprised at how natural it’s felt to get back into it. I was afraid it would take a couple months of retraining. But I think it’s become more second nature from the years of practice at it. I think fans can expect to see one very giddy band getting to play music again, for real people!  

What’s ahead for you after the tour wraps up? More new music?

I go straight into finishing my record in the winter, then some more touring in the new year. 

What are the best ways for your fans to stay current with what you’re doing?

I think any online platform is a pretty sure way to see all updates and details.

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  • Eugene Zenyatta was raised on old-time Memphis 'rasslin' and strongly prefers the company of dogs to people. His greatest heartbreak came in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic.

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