I’m a good ol’ southern girl, but I spent years away from West Tennessee. I learned along my travels that Jackson is the best place to call home. Don’t believe me? Follow me on my journey this fall throughout the USA and Canada as I chronicle my tour, opening of my off-Broadway show, and why I’m missing Jackson.
This fall I’m embarking on the two biggest career moments I’ve had in my life so far. In some ways, I’m still trying to figure out how to deal with it. One of the ways I did learn how to deal with it, though, was by moving myself back to West Tennessee. By the end of 2014 I had reached a special relationship with New York City (where I was living at the time)—the kind of relationship that crosses over from love/hate to hate/despise. I could no longer see the beauty in Central Park or the Hudson River. I couldn’t understand the appeal of seeing the Christmas windows at Macy’s or the Empire State Building. That’s when I knew I needed a change. I will admit that I was scared to make the move south. Not because I thought people were gonna run me out of town or something, it’s just that it had been twelve years since I’d lived below the Mason-Dixon line, and I didn’t know what to expect. My management, my doctors, my writing partners, my Northeastern friends, and an entire decade’s worth of work was in this city that I was definitely departing from, and it seemed like a very scary, adult moment with which to be faced. I approached my management about the idea, and I was pleasantly surprised when they not only supported my decision but were ecstatic about it. I guess they could see my misery too (haha) and knew a change had to come soon or else my creative mind was going to evaporate into thin air.
I’m one of those overachievers. The type of person who could be running on the treadmill, talking on the phone, answering emails, writing lyrics, and singing a song all at the same time and still feel like I’m not doing enough. After years of being this way in a city that never sleeps, it fully started to wear my gears down, so much so that I wasn’t sleeping; I was only eating pickles and Rice Krispie Treats and drinking about ten cups of coffee a day. Relocating to the one place where I felt comfortable and relaxed was a dream.
My first week back in Tennessee a crazy ice storm came through town and shut everything down, and my mom and I sat in the house talking and reading and watching all ten seasons of Friends. (’Cause what else are you supposed to do when you’re stuck in the house?!) We cooked meals and baked cookies and did all this stuff that I hadn’t done in years. But the best part about being back in my happy place was that I had space to think, breathe, and create. I was inspired and fulfilled. I was able to do my job again. I wasn’t distracted by the restlessness of NYC. I was able to hear my own thoughts and then express them as need be. I was afraid at first that by taking myself out of the city it would cut the work down in a way I didn’t want, take me out of sight, which would then take me out of the mind of those considering me for work—but the reverse happened. People considered me more than ever, and I was finally in a place where I could contribute my best self to the projects on which I was working . . . which is why I have a few healthy fears in leaving my happy place for the fall season.
I know that September through the beginning of December is going to bring so many milestones my way. The musical I’ve been writing over the past three years with my collaborator, Michael Kimmel, is going to be opening off-Broadway this fall. It’s titled Songbird and it’ll run from October 20th to November 29th at 59E59 Theater. This is an accomplishment that I still cannot believe is happening, not because I haven’t worked hard for it, but because it’s an ultimate dream-come-true. You can find me pinching myself daily. I’ll also be touring for seven weeks all over the USA and Canada promoting the new EP I released this summer. It’s the biggest opportunity I’ve ever been given to play my music live in my own country—one I’m not taking lightly either. I pray daily for the strength to navigate these things God has put on my plate, pray for focus, pray for good health and safe travel.
It’s hard to know whether or not these work opportunities would have happened with or without me moving back to Tennessee, but I like to believe that these doors have opened because I finally put my mind, heart, body, and soul in the right place where it can recharge, be revived, and then be able to go out into the world and give back what I’ve received in my time at home. Jackson is a wonderful place full of music, good food, and honest people—people who care about each other, their community, and their neighbor (literally and figuratively speaking). I’m going to miss it terribly while I’m away, but I’m going to write about it to help me pass the time and ease the heart pangs.Our Jackson Home is so kindly giving me the opportunity to share my adventures from the road this fall in a Missing Jackson series. I’m going to shed even more light on why West Tennessee is the best place to be. I’ll be very happy to explore and see the world this fall but I’ll be even happier to come home.
Read more of Lauren's "Missing Jackson" series.
Lauren Pritchard, also known as LOLO, is a Jackson native. She originated the role of Ilse in the eight-time Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, Spring Awakening, and she is the composer and lyricist of the new country/folk musical, Songbird. You can find her new EP, the Comeback Queen EP, on iTunes (released by DCD2 Records), and you can catch her on the #WildernessPolitics tour this fall in the USA and Canada. For more information on her shenanigans, visit her website.
Header image provided Lauren Pritchard.