Herald’s Q&A: Paige Penney

Fourteen year old singer-songwriter Paige Penney talks musical ties that bind and growing as an artist ahead of the release of her debut EP


Rising singer-songwriter and St. John’s native Paige Penney has quite the impressive resume at only 14 years of age. A two-time winner of the MusicNL Newfound Talent Contest and past performer for the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival and Smoky Mountain Songwriters Festival in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Penney recently completed her debut EP at the Nashville Dark Horse Studio, releasing her debut single Watch Out For Your Step with Newfoundland  folk trio The Once this past April. 

Penney caught up with The Newfoundland Herald to discuss her family history of musicians, living out her lifelong dream of becoming a singer-songwriter and much more in this weeks Q&A. 

Tell us a bit about your musical background and growing up in a musical household. Has being a singer-songwriter always been something you’ve wanted?

I come from a long line of singers and storytellers. My Nana used to sing on the radio in the 1950’s when she was a kid and she had some vinyl out too. My Mom and Dad have always sang and played together, my dad is a songwriter. My dad has been going to Nashville to write songs for as long as I can remember. He is my co-writer and has taught me so much about songwriting. 

I feel very grateful to be growing up with all of this music around me. I’ve always wanted to be a performer and I’ve been creating my own music and videos ever since I can remember. It’s what I’m meant to do.

If you had to describe yourself to readers as a musician and artist, how would you do it? What is your sound?

Singer Songwriter/Folk/Country Power Pop. I like to play a wide range. Soft and intimate to the heavy pop rock out!

Talk us through your relationship with The Once. How have they helped you as a growing singer-songwriter? All three are of course fantastic people.

They are amazing! I had the opportunity to perform with them at their Christmas show a couple of years ago when I was 12. Since then they have supported me in many ways. They are featured on my first single, Watch Out For Your Step. Most recently they helped me make my first music video with the amazing director Tom Cochrane. 

Gerri, Phil and Andrew are heroes of mine. They make people so happy with their music and they spread goodness to everyone they meet. I hope I can do that too.

You’ve had some fantastic opportunities at home locally. How has the local music scene treated you in terms of support? Do you feel it’s a nurturing environment?

Yes, for sure it’s nurturing. I have seen support from the City of St. John’s, MusicNL and the Folk Festival. And Girls Rock NL have been huge supporters of mine. Shallaway Youth Choir gave me the opportunity to write a song for their Christmas concert last year, which I performed with the choir. 

I have had a lot of help from Newfoundland musicians. Of course, The Once. The Swinging Bells have had me open for them. Dave Rowe and Josh Ward of O’Brien’s music helped me out last Christmas by performing with me in O’Brien’s Music shop. That video got a lot of views on their Facebook page. And my Uncle Darren “Boobie” Browne is always there helping me and recently performed with me on Rogers TV, Out of The Fog. 

I also have had amazing music teachers over the years Katie Sullivan, Adrien Doucet, Sandra Pope, Paula Coady, Jean Hewson and Kellie Walsh … I heard recently that City Councilor Maggie Burton wants St. John’s to be known as Canada’s Music City, I can definitely see why!

What was the experience like to record in the same studio as Taylor Swift in Nashville? And to have your friends and fans help you reach that goal no less?

It was a dream come true. So many people helped me get there with my Indiegogo campaign. I’m so grateful to them. Being in the same studio that Taylor Swift made her first record was amazing. It was one of the best experiences in my life. 

Being in the studio and working with my Dad and the amazing musicians (Justin Schipper, Myles McPherson, Matt Leigh and Mike Payne) and engineer Dave Hagan, was super fun and I learned so much! While in the studio we came up with the name Paige Penney and the Tennessee Tall Boys because I was so short compared to them! Some of the musicians had met Taylor Swift before and they said that I’d really like her. There was definitely magic in the room and I think you can hear it the songs.

Your debut EP will be released in a matter of weeks. What was the songwriting process like for you? Are the songs personal?

Yes, my songs are personal. My Dad Helps me. He is my co-writer.  He says you have to write what you know and with emotion. We are always thinking of ideas for songs. Some of the songs on the record were written so fast in a hour and others took a couple of months to complete. Every song is different.

The release show takes place on May 24th at The Space in St. John’s. What can your fans expect on that night? Any surprises in store?

It’s going to be fantastic! My friend Joanna Barker is going to open the show. And then my band The Old Souls (Elliot Dicks, Josh Ward, Dave Rowe and Boobie Browne) will join me to play the entire record. And of course we will have surprises too! You’ll have to come out to see!

For more on Paige Penney visit paigepenney.com and her official social medias. The release show for her debut EP takes place on May 24th at The Space in St. John’s with special guests. 

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