Never has the separation between on-stage and off-stage personas been as blurry as it will be on the foggy stage of Joe’s Bar, as the fictional, wanna-be country music stars of ABC’s “Nashville” prepare to show off their far from fictional talents.
“We are so grateful for the fan support, since they are the whole reason we are even here,” explains Clare Bowen, who has played the irresistible Scarlett O’Connor since the show’s 2012 inception. “We are all so happy that these songs make people feel something.”
From the Grand Ole Opry stage to the Billboard charts, the stars of “Nashville” have indeed made their presence known far from the television screen. Big Machine Records, ABC Studios and Lionsgate have previously released three “Music of ‘Nashville’” soundtracks with all original music, selling over 3 million song tracks. (The fourth album goes on sale in May.)
To capitalize on the success of the music, despite the sometimes shaky ratings for the show, which also stars Connie Britton as Rayna Jaymes and Hayden Panettiere as Juliette Barnes, Bowen will join “Nashville” comrades Charles Esten (Deacon Claybourne), Jonathan Jackson (Avery Barkley), Sam Palladio (Gunnar Scott) and Chris Carmack (Will Lexington) on a four-city tour that will take them to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and a sold-out Joe’s Bar in Chicago on April 25.
“I probably won’t pack till the night before,” laughs Bowen, whose current song “Black Roses” is already showing promise on the charts just a few short weeks after debuting on the show. “I have been on any sort of tour before, but the chance to be this accessible to our fans is wonderful. I still can’t believe it.”
While her character Scarlett goes through quite the challenging storyline (“some of the nicest people hide the darkest past”), Bowen herself has seen quite a bit of drama in her own life, long before Music City found a place in her life. An actress and singer hailing from Australia, there was a time when Bowen doubted that it would be her voice that would serve as her stairway to stardom.
“There was a year and a half where I did not sing a single note,” recalls Bowen. “I never thought my voice was valid of being heard. It was so different, but thankfully, artists like Ella Fitzgerald and Emmylou Harris taught me that my voice — strange voices — had a place in this world.”
And even at the times when Fitzgerald and Harris couldn’t quite convince her, her brother did. “He really was the one that encouraged me to sing again,” recalls Bowen. “My brother is so very talented, and just put out a gorgeous record. Having him come over here from Australia and write with me — there is just nothing like it.”
Bowen, in fact, is currently hard at work on her first solo album of original material. “The act of writing is helping me learn more about myself,” says the Nashville resident, who is working on the new record with famed producer T Bone Burnett.
“I’m writing the stories from my life. My life is a beautiful adventure. Nashville is a lovely community of people. And away from the studio and the show, I am perfectly happy with a good book and my beautiful boyfriend by my side. Scarlett and Nashville are now a part of me, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I believe I belong here.”