Bonnie Bishop

BonnieBishopReleases: Ain’t Who I Was (2016), Free (2012), Things I Know (2009), Bonnie Bishop and Friends: Live at Magnolia Avenue (2006), Soft to the Touch (2005), Long Way Home (2004), Bonnie Bishop (2002)
Years at MusicFest: 6

Even though singer-songwriter Bonnie Bishop can barely believe it herself, the story of how she connected with Dave Cobb (producer to Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton, and Sturgill Simpson) to record the best album of her career will need no dramatic embellishment, because every twist of fate — and faith — is absolutely true.

In 2012, Bishop had great success when her idol Bonnie Raitt recorded “Not Cause I Wanted To,” (co-written with Big Al Anderson) and the song topped the New York Times’ year-end best-of list. But a girl can only live so long on accolades and exposure and before finally landing with Cobb, Bishop had thrown in the towel on her country career. After spending 200 nights a year on the road — loading her own gear, running her own sound and sleeping in her van — Bishop was exhausted and felt she’d hit a dead end. When the stress of the road became too much, she retreated to her parents’ ranch in Wimberley, TX where she found the urge to begin writing again about stories from the road and from her childhood. Before leaving Nashville, Bishop had called Thirty Tigers co-founder David Macias, who sent Cobb some demos. “[Cobb] knew that I had a deep story that I wanted to tell and he really helped me do that,” Bishop says. “It’s a story of transformation, expressed in lyrics of longing, loss, loneliness and finally, resurrection.” The record is aptly named Ain’t Who I Was. Regardless of the new album’s reception, Bishop knows the message she wants it to convey: That dreams do come true. As long as you keep believing. “Dreams are lifetime visions,” Bishop says wisely. “And life is valleys and mountains. And if you can accept that, you’ll be fine.”

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