A version of this story appears in Friday’s Weekend Life section of The Oklahoman.
Maggie McClure moves on to California but doesn’t let go off ‘Central Time’
The singer, songwriter and pianist, who hails from Norman, is returning to her home state to celebrate the release of her new album, “Time Moves On.” She and her husband, fellow musician Shane Henry, have found many career opportunities since moving to Los Angeles almost two years ago.
Although she now lives in Los Angeles, Maggie McClure’s heart still beats on Central Time.
“I left home for California/Driving under desert skies/But my heart’s in Oklahoma/Not letting go of Central Time,” she sings on her new piano ballad, fittingly titled “Central Time.”
“Initially, I had no idea that’s what the album was going to be about. I just had all these songs and a lot of them happened to be about change and moving away from home and stepping out into the unknown because that’s what’s been heavy on my heart the past few years,” McClure said in an interview last week at the OPUBCO Studios.
“I miss home all the time.”
The singer, songwriter and pianist, who hails from Norman, is temporarily back in Oklahoma to celebrate the release of her new album, appropriately called “Time Moves On.” She will play a home-state album release show Friday night at the Will Rogers Theatre, with her husband, fellow musician and Oklahoma native Shane Henry, opening for her.
“I’m really thankful that he’s helped me with this process. It’s taken an entire year not just of my time but his time as well. He sacrificed making a new record for himself to help me make mine. So I really appreciate that,” McClure said, adding her spouse co-wrote two songs, played acoustic and electric guitars and lent background vocals to her album.
“It’s really neat for us to be able to have each other. And I don’t think we’d be as far along in our careers if we didn’t have each other. I don’t think either one of us would be living in Los Angeles if we were by ourselves. It’s definitely not an easy career, so having each other is definitely key.”
Land of opportunity
When the couple moved to Southern California almost two years ago, they didn’t have any concrete job opportunities, but they knew the chances of finding work in the music business were greater in L.A. than most anywhere else.
“It’s mostly about connecting with people and ‘Hey, Maggie, meet my friend so-and-so. They work for NBC,’ and that kind of stuff happens every day. And it’s really neat to be in the middle of that and be available for when someone calls and says ‘Hey, I’m doing this Disney thing. You want to come and sing on it this afternoon?’ It’s really cool to be able to say, ‘Yeah, what time?’” she said.
“We’re quickly learning that’s what it’s all about, is who you know. Gotta have the talent to back it up, but a lot of it is about who you know. It was not an easy choice. And it wasn’t a choice that anyone was telling us we should make ‘cause really there is no formula for success in what we’re doing anymore. But it seemed like a good idea, and I think it has been.”
Soon after they made their move, McClure answered a call for unpaid background extras to don vintage dress and appear in Matthew Morrison’s (“Glee”) “It Don’t Mean a Thing” music video. McClure soon found herself in the featured role of a saxophone soloist in the mini-movie.
“At first, I was like ‘I’m not doing this. This is so dumb. This is such a waste of time. I could be writing a song.’ But then I was like ‘You know what, I’m gonna go. I have to live a little and try things and step out of my comfort zone,’” she said.
That willingness to work has served her well, especially when it comes to snagging job opportunities with the House of Mouse. She and Henry were cast as members of Demi Lovato’s band for the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade, which aired Christmas Day on ABC, and she provides the English singing voice for the title character of Disney Channel Latin America’s series “Violetta.”
“I just finished singing on the 80th episode of Season 1, which is pretty crazy. A lot of songs, but it’s been really, really cool and an awesome opportunity and experience. Definitely stretched me. I even had to sing in Spanish. It’s airing in the UK and all over the world, except here in the United States, which is funny. But it’s an incredible opportunity, and I know it will lead to more things. So that’s been really awesome – and probably we’re going to end up doing Season 2 as well,” she said.
“So many people say ‘Well, that’s not what I want to do. I don’t want to be singing on a Disney show. I want to be doing my solo career.’ Well, that’s nice. Are you making money doing that? Are you furthering opportunities? For us, it’s about taking opportunities when they come and being open because every single thing that I’ve done has led to something else, which has led to … meeting someone else. And each opportunity is a stepping stone.”
‘Time Moves On’
McClure, 27, also has played 400 shows in the past three years, including opening gigs for Sara Bareilles and Tony Lucca. She will film the music video for “Troubled Heart,” one of the quirkiest songs on her new collection of intimate pop songs, next month when she returns to L.A.
In addition, her original music has been showcased on several TV shows, including “Dr. Phil,” “The Real World,” “Worst Prom Ever,” “The Hills,” “The City,” “The Vineyard,” “The Young and the Restless,” as well as in the Oklahoma-made movie “Cowgirls N’ Angels.” “Reset,” the opening track from “Time Moves On,” was featured on “Cougar Town” earlier this month.
“It’s been an incredible opportunity,” she said. “I’ve had over 20 so far songs on film and TV … and it’s pretty cool to sit there and watch.”
Her follow-up to 2010’s “Good Morning and Good Night,” “Time Moves On” also reflects the opportunities McClure found on the West Coast, including the chance meetings that led to her working with producer/engineer Justin Glasco.
“I did a lot of experimenting with the album in the studio,” she said. “Since I recorded in Los Angeles and live there, my producer was only 20 minutes away. So we had that flexibility of ‘Hey, I think we should spend a little bit more time working on this melody or this vocal’ or ‘This guitar just isn’t setting right. Come in and see what we can do.’ It was really awesome to have that luxury.”
McClure’s Oklahoma roots still manage to show, like in the inclusion of another transplanted Norman resident, Christopher Wray, who played pedal steel guitar on “Central Time.”
“There’s a lot of Okie ties to this album, in so many ways,” she said. “Shane and I have really tried to keep our roots and be true to ourselves wherever we go. Just because we live there doesn’t mean that we’re changing who we are or anything.”
“People are always like ‘You guys are really nice. You’re not from here, are you?’ she added. “And we always say, ‘We’re from Oklahoma,’ and they’re like ‘Oh, OK.’”
Maggie McClure Album Release
With: Shane Henry.
When: 8:30 p.m. Friday. Doors open at 8 p.m.
Where: Will Rogers Theatre, 4322 N Western.
Information: www.ticketstorm.com or www.maggiemcclure.com.