When she lost more than 100 pounds, K.C. Clifford also shed insecurities, musical boundaries, creative roadblocks — all the things that made the difference between a promising talent and a contender. With her latest disc, "Orchid," the Oklahoma City singer-songwriter now feels free to go deeper with her sound and her subjects.
"In my writing, the walls came down across the board," Clifford said. "My inhibitions kind of went out the window on some level, and I got really honest about certain parts of my heart. As deeply personal as these songs are, I think there's a universality that I haven't accessed before in my writing."
In 2007, when her weight topped out at 278 pounds, Clifford, who debuted in 2000 with "Times Like These," took decisive action to change the way she lived and to deal with the root causes of her obesity. In addition to eating less and exercising more, she came to terms with the childhood insecurity and sensitivity that led to her weight gain, and now, a year after being profiled on NBC's "The Biggest Loser," Clifford said there have been immediate changes in how she writes songs.
The most immediate change evident on "Orchid," which was recorded with producer Will Hunt at Blackwatch Studios in Norman, is that Clifford is now creating characters and singing about them in the first person, such as the grieving mother in "Blue Bonnets" and the American Indian forced from tribal grounds in "Redman." She said she found an empathetic voice while dealing with her physical change and emotional adjustment.
"Honestly, my weight loss had a lot to do with it, the process internally, the discipline I had to apply to my emotional life to make those lifestyle changes possible," Clifford said. "What happens when you take away that thing that you used to medicate your emotions, suddenly this whole new fresh thing comes up."
But it was not just Clifford's approach to subject matter and lyrics that underwent transformation. As a folk artist, Clifford always had lived and died by the acoustic guitar. But "Orchid" goes well beyond the strum, incorporating piano-based songs as well as tracks driven by dulcimer. Another new musical development involved Clifford and husband/collaborator David Broyles essentially dissecting her song structures to construct the perfect bridge.