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I’ll offer you a “Penny” for your thoughts.  
The Penny Marie Interview 
By psychologist, Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr BLT 

The Bible says, "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, but lose his own soul?"  I'm pretty sure the verse also applies to women, and I know one woman who refuses to sell her soul just to make it in the country music industry.  In Bakersfield, she is treasured.  In Nashville, she is treasured.  She refuses to sing anything she hasn't lived, or has no emotional/spiritual connection too, because her soul has to be attached to anything and everything she puts out there for public consumption.  She hasn't "made it" yet, not in the traditional sense of making it, but she is one to watch---a rising star in the making, and I say that with complete and utter confidence.    

If we’re talking copper, a penny isn’t worth much these days, but there’s one “Penny” that seems to be rapidly increasing in value, especially among those in the music business.  Her name is Penny Marie.  

Now, let me warn you because I’m about to shamelessly and unapologetically mix my metaphors, just enough to get you really confused.   They say “Strike while the iron is hot.” I did, and struck in the form of getting her to agree to accompany me on this song:

Billie Jean 
Country duet arrangement by Dr BLT 
Original by Michael Jackson 

…and further agreeing to the following interview.  I could spend all kinds of time editing it, and embellishing it with flowery paragraphs between the questions and answers, or I could allow you, the viewer, to also grab a hold of the iron while it’s hot.  Get ready for some serious heat.  Without further ado, I give you Penny Marie:

Would you mind telling us a little more about your plans with regard to this initial recording project?

The new album that I'm putting together was really a last minute thing...I wanted something that was more "intimate" not over produced and allowed me to be just that ME. So it’s an Unplugged Album. I'm having fun with it and can't wait for everyone to hear it.

As I'm sure you're aware, Bakersfield is mentioned in many songs by local country artists, old and new.  Of course there is that classic written by Homer Joy and made famous by Buck Owens and Dwight Yaoham, Streets of Bakersfield.  Then, in terms of brand new material, The Witchitas have a new one called Greetings from Bakersfield, and I'm working on one called It's Hot as Hell in Bakersfield Again.

How important do you think geography is to the development of an artist and to his/her artistic style?

I don't know that it has so much to do with geography when developing style as much as it is what types of music a person is exposed to. I draw not only from country but blues and some pop too. But I love all kinds of music and have had the pleasure of singing all different styles.

What are some of your biggest musical local influences?

Locally I draw from my good friends and their vocal styles: Monty Byrom, Glenda Robles, Kim McAbee, Theresa Spanky, David Jones and Louie Cruz Beltran.

What are some of your influences as it concerns what I refer to as the "extended Bakersfield family," that is, those artists that you admire that are not from Bakersfield?

In the "Extended Family and Personal Friends" I am drawn to look at people from all types of music...people like :

Country: Loretta Lynn, Neal McCoy, Wille Nelson, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Brady Seals, Mark Wills, Aaron Benward, Wynonna Judd, Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, Shannon Brown and the list could go on for days...ha ha ha

 NON-Country: P!nk, Addison Road, India.Arie and Joss Stone

How important is it for artists to have role models, or other artists who have gone before them that a newly developing artist can draw from?

I never had just one person that i used as a "role model" I watched every singer I went in saw in concert. I watched how crowds were handled, things they said, the way they acted...everything. And I pulled a little from all of them and then made it ME. So I guess one could say I studied people for a long time before becoming who i am today. 

How would you describe your musical dreams?  How close are you, in your opinion, to fulfilling those dreams?

You know I've been doing this for 20 years, WOW...i can't believe i am old enough to say that, but it’s never really been a "dream" it's been just plain ole "life" for me. I've always been in or around music so I can't say that I know any other way. As for the dream of it "Taking off" and me "Making it" that would be awesome, so many doors have started opening for me over the last few months. I will be making a trip to Nashville TN from July 17th-30th. So we will see what happens. I can't let the "cat outta the bag" just yet but know that I am meeting with some "Heavy Hitters" and I'll have a better idea on what's going to happen next!! 

What motivates you to create musical recordings and to perform before people?

Music for me is kinda like therapy for me. I am not one to talk about problems or issues...okay Feelings to anyone. Unless you’re a close personal friend.  So here’s a little secret to my music...I don't and will not sing or record anything I haven't lived. So if you really want to get to know "Penny Marie," listen to the lyrics of the songs I sing! My performing for crowds of people is a way for me to maybe help someone get through a point in their life. Music is a great tool for getting your feelings out!!!

We all loved your performance at Darkstar Records' first anniversary.  How was the experience for you?

Oh my gosh, I just love that I got to be apart of that event. Dan Robertson and I have been friends for years so when he asked me to join the line up I jumped on it! Then to follow an amazing band like Big House...WOW. Then to top it all off Monty Byrom joined my band for a few songs. I LOVED IT!!! Plus I got to see all my friends that I haven't seen in some time and meet some new faces. So the whole event was fun for me and the band.

What is your greatest challenge as an artist?

Ha ha that's a loaded question....where does one start....ha ha ha. There's a lot from not being able to please everyone, to not having the right "look" or "sound". But I finally had to just let it all go and come to terms that i CANT make everyone happy all the time and I have to be ME. That includes looks and sound. I have to be happy with me...if people see that they tend to want to know more.

What kind of people do you work best with, and what kind of people do you find challenging to work with, as an artist?

So far everyone has been open-minded with me. So it's been pretty easy all the way around and i too keep an open mind about the people I'm working with. As for crowds.... I've done well with any crowd that I've been thrown in front of or thrown myself in front of. I've played a small acoustic set right after a heavy metal band and got a standing ovation. But I've also played for a crowd that were all people 70's to 90 years in age and they welcomed me with open arms. So I've been pretty fortunate in that sense. But you and I both know I better knock on wood now that I've told you that cause there will come a day I'm not welcomed.

 What experiences have been most powerful in shaping you as an artist?

LIFE! Life is a great teacher!!! Emotions are powerful in putting my whole heart and soul in a song. The more people I'm around and friends that I have, stories fans tell me about how a song they heard me sing helped them helped show me that when I hit that stage I have to be REAL!     

What kinds of things do you like to sing about?

Everything, being in love, out of love, leaving, partyin...ha ha ha just really all the emotions you can think of.   

What's the easiest way folks can learn more about your music and follow your career?

The two websites that I personally run and now you...haha

What are your future plans as it concerns your music?

Well I mentioned before i will be going Nashville this month and I do know that at some point I'll end up having to move back there if i really want to give my music a shot at making anything happen on a "bigger scale".

 Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

Here is a copy of my Bio...feel free to pull anything you like from it. FYI I've sang everything from Country to Latin Jazz...

 Penny Marie began performing at the tender age of 8 and by the time she was 16, she would sneak into local honky-tonks and sing at “open mic” nights before anyone had the chance to figure out she was too young to be in their establishment. More recently Penny has formed her own band of hand-picked talented musicians, now called “Penny Marie and the Smokin’ Guns”. Penny has opened and shared the stage with many artist and legends such as Buck Owens, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Ricky Van Shelton, John Berry, Neal McCoy, Mark Wills, Michael Peterson, John Corbet, Hot Apple Pie and most recently James Otto, John Eddie, Brady Seals, Aaron Benward and Brian McComas. Because of the soulful emotion that Penny sings with she has often been described as having a “Motown meets Nashville” sound. Aside from her blues influence in her voice, Penny’s appeal comes from her ability to really convey the songs she sings in a way that is entirely believable. She only brings songs to the stage she can personally relate to, which allows her to give a more uninhibited performance each and every show.

"I've always wanted to live my life with no regrets. I never want to wake up one day and be disappointed in myself for not taking a chance," says Penny Marie.


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