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Kansas City Singer's Second Album Reveals One Benefit Of Turning 30

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Kansas City songwriter Amanda Fish has just proclaimed herself "Free." That's the title song on her newly released sophomore album, after 2015's "Down in the Dirt."

The record reflects Fish's literal and philosophical growth. The older sister of another Kansas City singer,Samantha Fish (who has a few more records to her credit), Amanda started playing music at 18 but set that aside to earn a living. By age 25, she was working as a security guard and unhappy, so she quit to go into music full time.

She's just moved to St. Louis and says she's excited about what the future holds: an upcoming tour including the House of Blues in Chicago; offers to appear at festivals next year; and the possibility of performing in Canada and overseas.

HADDIX: This one song really caught my ear, and that’s “The Ballad of Lonesome Cowboy Bill.” Tell us about this song.

FISH: Oh, that song’s actually about a community radio DJ (on KKFI 90.1 FM) who had a program called “Moby’s Trip” here in town for 20 years I think. That was my first time in the studio, I met him through a friend and they gave me a character to play — sort of like radio theater meets psychedelia. It’s not on the air anymore. When I found out he was going off the air, I wrote this song in honor of all of the music that the turned me onto and how he helped me shape my taste. And I got the honor of performing it on his final broadcast.

HADDIX: You’re a multi-instrumentalist on that particular track. You’re featured on acoustic mandolin and also on piano. And you play guitar too.

FISH: Yeah, the slide you hear in the background.

HADDIX: You’re getting your start really, you’re at the dawn of your career and you’re writing a lot of material. What’s the process you use to write music, from beginning to end?

FISH: Any process that works! I will take anything I can get, honestly. Sometimes it all comes out like a shot, and then with some other tunes the melody comes first, the groove, and then I put words in with that and an idea begins to form around the groove.

HADDIX: There’s a lot of songs about liberty, particularly “Free” and “Anymore,” on this particular CD. Tell us about this song “Free.” It’s a really interesting song because it starts out as a ballad and then in the middle section you get the religious fever.

FISH: Oh yes.

HADDIX: How did this come about?

FISH: I turned 30 and something happened in my brain. I just said, "I cannot live the way I’ve been living and putting up with some of the things I’ve put up with and taking those things into my heart anymore." And I’ve just freed myself of a lot of baggage, and I’ve freed myself of a lot of circumstances that were no longer working for me.

In doing that, it was just this sort of elation that comes after you realize you just don’t have to deal with that drama anymore. It’s just hugely impactful for me. I just had to clean out my life and once I was clean, I just felt so, so happy.

Chuck Haddix is host of the Fish Fry, 8 p.m.-midnight on Friday and Saturday nights on KCUR 89.3 FM, where a longer version of this interview aired on September 8.

C.J. Janovy is KCUR 89.3's digital content editor. You can find her on Twitter, @cjjanovy.

In 1984, Chuck Haddix aka Chuck Haddock joined the staff of KCUR as a jazz producer. The next year, he began producing the Fish Fry. You can reach him at haddixc@umsystem.edu.
A free press is among our country’s founding principles and most precious resources. As director of content-journalism at KCUR, I want everyone in our part of America to know we see them and we’re listening. I work to make sure the stories we tell and the conversations we convene reflect our complex realities, informing and inspiring all of us to meet the profound challenges of our time. Email me at cj@kcur.org.