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“Do I have to be a star to be a musician?’ | University of Alabama Student Paper Billboard 1976

In the life of every musician, there are little moments that let you know you're doing something right. As a young undergraduate at the University of Alabama, I was lucky enough to experience one of those highlights in the form of this article written for "Billboard," the UofA student paper by entertainment editor Bill Smith published November 22, 1976.

As a lifelong fan of Joni Mitchell, it was an honor to be compared to my hero, who in November of 1976, released her groundbreaking "Hejira" record on Asylum.

Here's a transcript of the text of that student paper article and a link to the student paper archive on the University of Alabama website.


“Do I have to be a star to be a musician?" by Bill Smith

I hardly expected to hear someone who could match the vocal depth and range of Joni Mitchell. Much less did I expect to hear her in the living room of the Tri-Delta sorority

house on a Saturday night.

Tim Weisberg had just finished an outstanding concert at the Bama Theatre last Saturday night and some old friends from Anniston had come down for the show. Later, Clayton asked where we could find a piano and that all led us—fantastically enough to the Tri-Delt house, where Kathy Weems, an alumni of the sorority had said it would be alright to go and play. Clayton was hesitant and so was I, but Kathy said it was o.k.

So by midnight Clayton was playing the piano and before too much longer he was joined by a blonde haired, blue-eyed girl, playing acoustic guitar.

They played a nice long easy set together, consisting of Dan Fogelberg Souvenirs, for the most part. Her name is Teresa Wright. She’s from Ashford, AL. “I always tell people I’m from Dothan,” she said with a smile, “they seem to recognize that much easier.”

What was so astonishing about Teresa was that she was so astonishing. Her idol and prime motivation seems to be Joni Mitchell. She plays her songs almost as well as Joni, well maybe as well.

Meeting her showed me that, in all amazement, there are so many good musicians around Tuscaloosa and even on the University of Alabama campus that you just want to take them to Los Angeles and let some of those people listen to their style, their voices, and their drive. It becomes almost necessary to contain yourself. THERE IS something you want to do, some

helplessness that seems to creep into your bones as you hear a person with the talent of Teresa Wright.

I remember this summer when AeroSmith played at Rickwood Field and I talked to the bass players. He said it was all a matter of time. “You have to pay your dues in this business, the bars, the late nights, sometimes even two and three dates in one night. Then when you think you’re really good, when you’re a hit, you move out of town and play shows somewhere else, you travel and eventually, if you’re lucky, the right person comes along and bam, you’re in," he said. I remember he looked across Rickwood Field, at the people gathering in thousands, with blankets and beer and settling themselves on the infield and he said again,

"yeah, you’re in."

Teresa strummed her guitar a few more times, fiddled with a contrary string and with a little encouragement played a couple of songs she had written.

As I listened I wondered how Bob Dylan, the Birds, the Beatles, and even John Prine had come to stardom and the record labels and the road tours with such ease and grace. Then I realized, as Teresa played, that maybe that’s not what all these musicians are seeking. I mean not every body wants the big shot at stardom, not everybody wants the long drives to everywhere to play for everybody.

Teresa ended her first songs with one of the ones she had written. It had a line in it that went something like, "I’ll follow the light that flows from your eyes. I’ll follow that light..." and as she sang, there in the living room of the Tri-Delt house, late last Saturday, I knew that someday didn’t matter. Teresa Wright and other artists like her were already stars, stars of the best making. They are people that express their art through music, their own special way. And if no one listens, if no one cares, it still doesn’t matter, for Teresa is gonna keep playing and singing because music is a part of her: she is an artist.


Pre-save and Download Teresa's Debut single "Sometimes Blues" here >>

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