News Column

Bonner Black uses life as inspiration

May 2, 2013


May 02--The 17-year-old edgy singer-songwriter-guitarist with a country sound has heard the comparisons time and time again.

"People usually say I sound like Taylor Swift or Miley Cyrus," Bonner Black said.

She doesn't take offense to the comparisons. She just doesn't agree.

"I joke around and say if the rock band Heart, Shania Twain and Taylor Swift had a baby, that would be me," Black said. "I'm a combination of rock, country and soul. I'm not the next anyone. I'm just Bonner Black."

The former Huntsville native who moved to Nashville to kickstart her music career will perform in Jim Parker's Songwriters Series at the Von Braun Center Playhouse on Friday at 6:30 p.m. The show will also feature Parker, Pete Wasner, Mackenzie Wasner and Stephanie Quayle.

Get to know the former touring ballerina, farm girl and up-and-coming music sensation.

One-on-One with Black

How did your Heart-Shania Twain-Taylor Swift hybrid sound develop?

From listening to different artists. My dad got me listening to Aerosmith and Heart. I started listening to Shania Twain and Faith Hill and thought, oh my gosh, they are so cool.

When did you start writing?

I officially started writing when I was 13, but I did write songs when I was 6. They were awful. I wrote one song about dressing in modest clothing and feeding the hungry. When I was 12, I learned the guitar and started to have actual dreams for the future and I started to feel things more. Up to that point I was training and touring as a classical ballerina, but I found myself wanting more and more to do music, even when I was dancing. With music, something clicked. I knew this was something I wanted to do forever.

How difficult was the decision between dancing and music?

Very difficult. I had danced for 11 years. I had spent so much time and put so much of myself in ballet and I really loved it. The hardest part was telling my mom. I was lucky, my parents were very supportive. I still dance and I still love it. Music just has my soul.

When did you first perform musically?

It was at the Coffee Tree in Huntsville. Wednesday night is Writer's Night, which, by the way, if you are a songwriter and want a cool place to hang out and share your music, is the place to be. I got to play two of my songs and everyone was real supportive.

Were you nervous?

I never get nervous. I think it is because of all those years performing ballet. The only place I get nervous is the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. There's so much hype about that place. I mean, Taylor Swift played there. The audience is right there listening to you and staring at you. It can be a little intimidating.

What inspires your songs?

Life. I'm a teenage girl, I like boys, so a lot of my songs are about falling in love. Other times I start with a cool lyric or hook. No matter how I start, the songs always come from an honest place.

Do you have a favorite lyric?

It has to be the chorus from "Struck by Lightning." I wrote it when I was 15 and have played it a million times, but still like performing it. It's a new way of saying I love you.

What is your goal?

In my music, I want to be honest and relate the way I feel. Music is something I want to do for the rest of my life and I want to do it big. I want to be a success.

What is your go-to Karaoke song?

"Piece of My Heart" by Janis Joplin.

What is currently playing on your iPod?

The Fall Out Boy album. I have never been a huge fan of them, but then I heard "Know What You Did in the Dark." Now I can't get enough of them. I feel so hardcore.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

My Mom always tells me to make sure to put on my lipstick, warm up my voice and tune my guitar. Even now, when she's not at my shows, she texts me "Put on your lipstick."

Catherine Godbey can be reached at 256-340-2441 or

If you go

What: Jim Parker's Songwriters Series

When: Friday, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Von Braun Center Playhouse in Huntsville

Cost: $20. Tickets available at the box office or at


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