In 2014, Anna Clendening took to America’s Got Talent stage with a chill-inducing rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” which quickly went viral and has garnered over 29 million views on YouTube since then. Clendening is comfortable getting candid about her struggles and even shared her battle with anxiety and depression, which kept her bedridden for months prior to her audition. Struggling with severe anxiety for as long as she can remember, Anna fought hard to find her footing, and she eventually did. She uploaded an acoustic version of “Boys Like You,” and it caught fire. The song has sold 200K+ copies and earned 50M+ streams and 60M+ spins on Pandora in addition to helping secure her a record deal. With her candidness and beautiful thought-provoking lyrics, it’s obvious why Anna Clendening is loved by millions of fans worldwide.
I had the opportunity to talk with Anna about her single, “If I’m Being Honest”, how music has helped her and advice she has for young artists.
For the readers who don’t know who you are, can you tell them a bit about yourself?
My name is Anna Clendening. I am 5’3. I love big dogs. I could live off cheese for the rest of my life. And I am a musician who promotes mental health.
What does music mean to you? In what ways has it helped you as an individual?
Music has hands down saved my lifetime and time again. I used to have a tattoo (that the artist messed up) that said: “Music is my refuge”. Music calms me down from my panic attacks. It keeps me grounded as a person. And it gives me a forum to connect to people who need help and is struggling.
Talk to me about your most recent single, “If I’m Being Honest”, what is this track about?
My most recent single is a song about AND for my ex. He was a pathological liar who used me at my most vulnerable point in the past couple of years. At the time of the break-up, he was my support system and I was lost in LA. I was so mad he could lie, steal from me, and manipulate me and yet I missed him at the same time.
What was the songwriting process like for this single?
I sat in a room with the producer Noah Conrad and we played a chord progression on the piano. We weren’t really getting anywhere and had decided to break for lunch. But as we were walking out I asked him to play the progression on the guitar. As soon as we laid the guitar part down, the words just fell out of my mouth as if it was something that needed to be spoken, needed to be let go.
What’s the most important thing to you when sharing your music with your fans and/or anyone who’s listening in?
Take the song however you need to. Music is about expression. I write music with a certain story and mood in mind but that isn’t always how other people perceive it, and that’s just fine.
What advice would you give to young artists trying to break into the music industry right now?
Stick to what you know, what you love, and don’t let anyone try to change that. Don’t force yourself into a bubble of “what you think will be popular”. It never works and you will always keep finding yourself coming back to who you truly are. It’s a competitive industry (but what isn’t these days?). You have to believe in what you make. Keep your head down and run full force into creating.
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I just want to share something I’ve needed to hear myself recently. You WILL get through what you’re going through. It will get better. It won’t always be quick and it won’t always be easy, but it will happen I can promise you this. But also remember, you’re allowed to have bad days. Regardless of what anyone else tells you, you’re allowed to feel how you’re feeling. We are human. We crack. We cry. We get angry. We hurt. We smile. We laugh. It’s ALL a part of being human, the good AND the bad. The good days keep us going, and the bad days help us grow. I hope you remember that in whatever place you find yourself in. I love you.
Do you have any upcoming news/plans you’d like to share?
I have some exciting news about a debut…something. But I can’t share yet 🙂
Any last thoughts?
Life is full of waves; ups and downs we can’t possibly control. But what we can control is how we prepare for them. You are ALLOWED to have bad days. You WILL have bad days. But just like a wave, there are peaks and there are valleys. I promise things will get better, not always as fast as you’d like, but they will get better.
Featured Image courtesy of Nadia Ali PR