By the age of four, Sugarland’s Annie Clements started playing the piano. Nine years later when her father needed a bass player. He bought her a bass and encouraged her to join his band. From then on she’s been doing what we know her best for, playing bass!
Growing up in a musical family, and in the vibrant music scene of New Orleans, she was constantly inspired and supported. With her fathers influence, going pro was the only option, “Seeing someone living their dreams and creating a life for themselves, doing what they want to do, was simply amazing. It’s a gift I’ll treasure forever.” After high school she went to Berklee College of Music where she had the advantage of already being a seasoned funk, R&B, and blues player.
Post-Berklee, Annie went back to New Orleans and toured with artist Theresa Anderson (Sweden) and recorded an album with Sons of William. Doing auditions all over the place, and being prepared for them put her ahead of the game. “Berklee is a great prep as far as audition situations go because of the way they run private lessons, juries, proficiencies, and ensembles.”
Being prepared for the real world is great, but as most alums agree, Annie was convinced that the most valuable asset to a graduate is the vast network of students and connections made while there. In terms of auditions she says, “You’d be surprised at how many people aren’t prepared.”
Beginning her touring career with Theresa Anderson opened a lot of doors and gave her the opportunity to play at the Fender Stratocaster 50th Anniversary celebration in London, (Apparently this is still aired on Paladia) sharing the stage with legends such as Joe Walsh, Ron Wood and more! During this time she was also playing and singing back up vocals with Sons of William and rapidly growing their fan base. She got a call to audition for Sugarland and immediately when to Nashville and took the gig. Although it was rough leaving Sons of Williams she was grateful that they found a female bassist that could also sing her back ups.
Since she joined Sugarland and left New Orleans, Nashville has been home. The cities are similar in a lot of ways, mostly their tight knit musicians. But what Annie prefers is the cleanliness and safety of Nashville. Though most touring artists don’t get the luxury of being home 3 days a week, she feels living in a nice town is a bonus. A solid 6-9 months of every year is dedicated to touring with Sugarland, but “It’s very manageable,” she says. “Mostly, we leave on Wednesday at midnight on the bus, wake up at the gig Thursday, play shows Thur-Sat, and home by Sunday morning!” A great schedule for doing laundry, but it doesn’t leave too much time for working out or keeping up with freelance work! Recently the Sugarland crew has taken to the P90X work out and Annie has been good about updating her blog.
Surprisingly, Sugarlands crew is composed of a lot of women filtering in some soft energy to the harsh tour environment. Having women around changes things a lot: cleaner buses, scented candles, and even tea service backstage, Annie explains; “There are just certain things that wouldn’t happen if it were a bunch of dudes.” A lot of performers say the secret to a good performance is “Happy Band, Happy Fans”, although it seems like the fan boy/girl days are over. The country fans still have that spirit, and some even bring presents for Annie and the rest of the talent. Their audience is composed of a lot of families, which is something Annie appreciates a lot. “I love getting little gifts, and people bring really sweet signs with shout-outs to me at shows as well.” All of it adds up to a great show and great atmosphere, something today’s music scene seems to be missing.
The modern music climate is a totally different beast, over saturated and more competitive than it has been in the past. Bands have to work ten times harder to make and keep fans. Sugarland being so successful is a real blessing for Annie. In Nashville, Annie works with a production company called Sorted Noise who makes music for commercials and films, as well doing marketing with artists and assisting them in being more effective in today’s crowded music economy. Aside from that, she is also the resident background vocalist there! What a busy girl!
If you get some time, check out all of Annie’s various endeavors, she is a real force to be reckoned with:
Fender Stratocaster 50th Anniversary Concert
Sons of William Album- What Hides Inside