Aimmé, a former Acoustic Showdown runner up, has won the Tin Roof Acoustic Showdown Series 22.
This time around was different in a way that artists on the path will understand — she was ready. So ready, her grounded confidence allowed the muse in for a visit and she only a week prior wrote one of the songs for her winning performance on August 10, 2018. Even her fans noticed the shift, one saying, “Last year was good, this year was amazing.”
Libro Musica has been covering the Showdown Series 22, from start to finish, and I had the pleasure of not just witnessing her win, but sitting down with Aimmé too for an interview. We enjoyed the summer night air together and an impromptu photo shoot, on Loca Luna Atlanta‘s patio.
I learned that Aimmé’s performed at Eddie’s Attic, at Tin Roof Cantina of course, at Virginia-Highlands Festival (both an acoustic set and a mainstage set), open mics at The Music Room, and once opened for Lalah Hathaway after winning an Instagram submission competition with her original song “Freedom” at Center Stage.
As a result of the Showdown win, she’ll produce a video of one of her songs with Shadow Walk Films, perform in one of the Center Theater venues again, again at a mainstage show at Virginia-Highlands Summerfest, and at a paid gig at Tin Roof Cantina.
Aimmé had been leading worship in churches around Atlanta, since the age of 11, at times in venues where she’s performed in front of audiences numbering in the tens of thousands. It’s crowds like at Tin Roof and smaller where she gets the intimate-space butterflies, but while the early spots at Monday-night competitions at Tin Roof can be about that “dinner crowd energy”, the finales on Fridays are always super packed with supportive energy and super nice people — particularly the other artists.
Ian Schumacher & Ian Calk — How did you meet them?
Aimmé: It’s been cool to get to know the Atlanta songwriters circle, the live performers circle. Ian Calk [third place winner of the Acoustic Showdown Series 22] is like my brother. We met at an Eddie’s Attic open mic. He opened his mouth and I was like, whoah… we need to be friends. And so ever since then…
Ian Schumacher [host and producer of the Acoustic Showdown Series], I met him through David Lopez. Georgia Music Partners used to be a baby [sibling] of the Recording Academy and they used to have a lot of networking events. Ian and David Lopez were there, and David and I were talking and Ian was like, “supp?”, and we took a picture together, and now he’s like a brother too.
Tell me about yourself as a songwriter?
Aimmé: I write artistic soul for the soul. My personal goal is freedom and peace of mind, for serenity. I want my audience to get there as well with me. If I can lead the way, if I can be honest and vulnerable in my songs, that may get you to think about that same aspect of your life, get healing, or just let it out and process.
“True Me”, the song she wrote the week before the Showdown finale she won, is about being on her artist’s path.
Her writing comes from personal experiences, and feeding off of other people’s stories as well. She writes and listens to all types of music, using it as a processing tool (because #musicisimportant). At twenty-three, Aimmé’s just trying to figure it all out, like adulting, but with a solid discipline for her craft well in hand.
She writes every day consistently, whether she finishes a song or not. She loves playing the guitar, both acoustic and electric, so while she’s seen that a lot of the competitions around Atlanta are acoustic, put Aimmé behind a Gretsch and look out.
How did you learn guitar?
Aimmé: It all started… [I was about to hear a story from Aimmé so wonderfully startling, it’s what inspired her to call her publishing company company Pink Guitar Music.]
I was the first granddaughter out of ten grandsons on my mom’s side of the family, so obviously I get what I want when I want it. We were in Elkhart, Indiana, my family is from Indiana, at a farmer’s market. We were going through the shops and I saw this pink guitar on the wall and I was like, I want it. But I didn’t play.
I was about eleven, and I wanted it. Of course my grandmother was like, “I’m not going to get you this guitar if you’re not going to play it and it’s just going to collect dust. Can you play it?” I lied, and I was like, “Yeah. I can!” Little did I know, [she was going to challenge me]. We went in the shop and she asked the lady to take it off the wall. And she was like, “Sit here and play this guitar for me right now.”
In my head, I was like… uh-oh. And she hands me the guitar and I kid you not, God is my witness, I start playing the guitar — like rhythm, like music that I’ve heard. My mom walks in and she was like, “When did you start playing guitar?” And I was like, “I don’t know, I just started playing.” And that’s where it all started for me.
I literally picked up the guitar, and I started playing. I’ve never had a lesson, I play by ear. That’s why I say it’s a God-given talent. So, we got it that day, and here we are. I still have the pink guitar, too. I came home and I played the mess out of that guitar. I learned how to change strings and all that.
What was the moment you knew music must be your life?
Aimmé: When I say I grew up in church, I was definitely there five out of seven days a week. I come from a pastor. I remember watching the musicians, and to this day whenever I’m watching it’s slowed down in my head. Maybe I was too young to know that that’s actually what was happening, but I have pictures of when I was little, just standing and staring because it would be slowed down. And I think [those were moments] where the gift was fostered. Honestly it was when I got that guitar that summer. I did not put it down, and I haven’t put it down ever since.
In three months, I was already not just singing, but playing on the mainstage at church. I was a twelve year old, the first kid at my church on the adult stage. And from then on, it was acoustic, it was electric, I played the viola in Philharmonic Orchestra for four years, I dabbled in bass. My dad is a bass player. This is me, this is my calling.
What musicians are inspiration for the soul of what you do?
[Note: Aretha Franklin had died the morning of the day of our interview. Aimmé mourns not having been able to see some of her idols before their passing, like Michael Jackson, and Prince, and Aretha Franklin. To learn about who she’ll be continuing to track into the future, I asked about her still-living inspirations.]
Aimmé: I absolutely adore Jessie J. I think she’s very underrated in the U.S. for her artistry and her songwriting. She was shelved on a label for four years. I can just imagine the mind games that come with that. She’s someone that I’ve studied — how she carries herself, every cover, every interview that she’s done.
Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes. Her story — she puts it all in her music. Before she got signed, before the fame, She will perform in a just a tee shirt and jeans, with her glasses, and hair pulled back. She does not care, she’s about the music. I love her, I think she’s a great writer as well.
And Paramore is my favorite band.
As far as composition, Stacy Barthe, she’s incredible writer. She’s actually responsible for a lot of music in the industry, writing with a lot of big name people — Beyonce, Rhianna, all that. She has a couple projects for herself, and for a week straight I listened to every song that she has out, and every song that she has written, over and over again just to study it. She’s great, I love it.
What are some of the core wisdoms in your toolbox?
Aimmé: Always remain teachable. I meet a lot of different artists, I come across a lot of different people, I try my hardest not to be judgmental. If anything, I am teachable, and I am ready.
Somebody I look up to told me this, “At the end of the day, you have to protect your peace.” I had to learn this early on. Not everybody’s going to like you, not everybody’s going to understand what you’re fighting. Everyone is carrying something, no matter what race, no matter what religion, everyone. But at the end of the day, you have to protect your peace, at all costs.
Are you in fact ready for the next step?
Aimmé: The past year and a half, two years of putting myself out there has been growing me and preparing me in order to be ready. Winning was such a big deal for me [we laugh]. I know it’s a big deal for every artist, but I’m like, yo — this is huge! It’s definitely come at the right time. Last year in my personal life, I was not ready. I’m totally there now, as in, squarely on the path.
I also do some producing and have a friend with a producing studio, I just don’t have the tools myself. But I’ve been like, you’ve got to hold on, it’s coming. I’ve got a list of equipment that I want — microphone, a midi keyboard, softwares, different plugins and everything. The journey I’ve been on — besides putting in the work and growing in my artistry — with the instruments I have, I’ve only been able to do acoustic competitions. But once you get those tools, it’s just up.
“I’ve got this
Little thing called
Let it ring from
My inner being to
Ev’ry little thing that I’ve gone through
It wasn’t easy
But pain only lasts ’til the sun comes up
Well, my sun is always shinin’
Because I’ve learned to climb and
Walk walk it out
Talk talk it out
Live live it out
‘Cause that’s freedom” — “Freedom”, by Aimmé
And what’s next for Aimmé?
She’s mid-process in getting her website completed and launched, and right now she’s looking forward to the execution of the Tin Roof Acoustic Showdown first place prize package — and making the most of it. The timing of the cash prize is serendipity (because cars break down and don’t grow on trees), and so is the studio time at Madison Records, the audio production services from David Lopez Audio, the EP mastering by Martina Albano Mastering — because of the readiness that’s arrived for this musician, this artist, this soul.
Thanks a bunch to Loca Luna restaurant for being so kind when Aimmé and I kept talking way past closing. It was a great Thursday night spot, for anyone — for a first date, for catching up with an old friend, for making a new one.