Artist Interview: “Ohio” by Deidre Thornell

Q: Hi there! Loving the genre-fusing feel of “Ohio”! It has a country flare, but your voice brings a singer-songwriter/rock element to it! What was your favorite part in making “Ohio”

DEIDRE THORNELL: Thank you so much for listening to ‘Ohio’ and to its story! I love how you used “genre-fusing feel” to describe it. I grew up with amazing influences from the likes of Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette, Martina McBride, Reba, Whitney Houston, and Bonnie Raitt – all of whom are very emotive vocalists. Throughout the years, I’ve had voice coaches tell me that I am very emotive when I sing, so I believe it’s from those strong female artists that helped shape me in that way. Personally, I am so passionate. I have this overwhelming sense of empathy naturally, so when I listen to a song, the music has to capture me first, then the lyric. If I am not touched by the music that is tied to the lyric, I have a harder time getting behind it emotionally. I only realized this recently, to be honest. But when it comes to ‘Ohio,’ it totally makes sense because the day I was at Liz’s house (co-writer), we were building the song when Tim Pasley (the third writer) emailed over a melody that was on his mind, and it struck something inside me instantly – from there Liz and I were on the non-stop train to ‘Ohio-Town’ so to speak! Ha! When the song was loosely finished, I remember calling my mom excitedly about this universal feeling we had captured about such a specific location – and being born and raised Texan, I can’t tell you how much I wanted to fight that feeling, but I was IN LOVE.

Q: From the lyrics, I’m thinking “Ohio” is about a past love from your younger days in Ohio, but I could be wrong. What was the inspiration behind “Ohio”?

DEIDRE: Liz had an old song she had crafted from her days growing up in Cleveland. Her memories there cover the entire state, as she is a daughter of two Ohio State Buckeyes. Her mom and dad, who both had the love of writing, had their own first chance at young love upon meeting in Columbus. As a child playing alongside the Ohio River near her grandmother’s home in Southern Ohio, she has the fondest memories of those days, but now calls Nashville home. So her story truly is the inspiration behind the song. We also wanted a sense of nostalgia, similar to ‘Strawberry Wine,’ so we aimed toward that idea while piecing it all together. When Tim Pasley sent over that guitar hook – it practically wrote itself musically. Sal Oliveri was the icing on the cake with his amazing production style and skill. 

Q: Being a Texas native (huge country music hot pot), I’m interested in your childhood; were you introduced to music from your family, or did you discover your love of music on your own?

DEIDRE: This is a very intriguing question because no one in my family sings! We always joke about this. But I will say that from my grandfather Pop to my older brothers Russell and Kyle, growing up they were always proud to show me the music they knew and loved, and I just took it from there. They probably have more to say on this subject – being the proud Texans they are! The pool of musical talent is big and plentiful in Texas. As a kid I was fortunate enough to work with one of Dallas’s premiere vocal mentors in the industry, who has worked with many Pop and Country artists that were based in Dallas, LA, New York, and Chicago, so my path to music was set from a very young age. I have performed on stage since age 5 and songwriting since the age of 13. I sang and danced at Six Flags over Texas for the Country Is My Rock and Honky Tonk Christmas shows during the summers in high school and had the chance to write songs with some of the best in the industry, between Dallas and Nashville. My move to Music City came after I made it as a finalist on the Texaco Country Showdown. I had the most amazing opportunity to perform on The Ryman Auditorium Stage in front of a sold-out crowd, that went on to air on Great American Country TV several times that year. I’ve never looked back and it was at that moment that Nashville became the goal, to which is now reality, and will be ‘the rest of forever’ home!

Q:  Ohio” instantly put me in a good, calm mood; I absolutely love easy-listening songs like this. What do you hope listeners take away from “Ohio”?

DEIDRE: That makes me so happy! I have listened to the song about 1,200 times by now, and you know what – it puts me in a good, calm mood, too! When I drive and listen to it in my car, I think about my adolescent days in Texas, which was the whole purpose why I felt strongly on releasing it – because it takes me to a place in my heart and in my head that I escape to. I know from the feedback I’ve received that others feel the same way you and I do, and I love that people are connecting so much to it with their own stories of love. In the end, it’s not just about the state of Ohio, it’s about the universal message, and if you can place yourself in any memory or moment you want to within those 3 minutes and 57 seconds, my mission as songwriter was accomplished. That’s what music is supposed to do, right?

Q: If you could collaborate with any artist (dead or alive), who would it be?

DEIDRE: Vince Gill. I adore him and his smooth, rangy voice. He truly is the most humble, down to earth, respectable, ridiculously talented country music artist who has lived so much life on the road touring. It wasn’t until COVID when he finally had a break after almost 30 years! Now, he is living his second dream, playing with The Eagles and currently on the road with them. I think it’s absolutely amazing to see artists like him who are already at a certain level still get excited about having depth and doing so much more in their career than they anticipated. No one is more deserving. I secretly also think our voices would blend SOOOOO well together. I’m ready for that day! Not going to lie – I’d be nervous, no doubt, but what a dream that would be.

Q: Any parting words to your fans?

DEIDRE: I’d really love for fans to show me around their hometown using my song ‘Ohio’ as a nostalgic portal for them, when they record their ‘day in the life’ IG Reels or TikToks. I think it’s dreamy and universal for people from anywhere to show off their hometown: maybe where they had that first kiss, first love, where they had their first heartbreak, their first “talk”. I love connecting with people, so I’d love to see more of this! But more to that point, I’d love to see the proud Ohioans use this song in that way, too!

Q: Tell everyone what is next for you! Any projects in the works you want to tell the world about?

DEIDRE: ‘Ohio’ is the first of three songs recorded by Sal Oliveri (Chris Stapleton/P!nk ‘Love Me Anway’, Carrie Underwood, Lee Brice). Sal is the best producer I’ve ever worked with. He is sharp, respectful, knowledgeable and gives the best advice. 2023 is going to be a big year. Please stay in touch and make sure to follow me on socials to keep up with the latest! Thank you for the time! I appreciate you letting this proud Texas-raised girl spread the word about this song that I hold so close to my heart. I also happen to know that a proud Ohio girl and Pennsylvania boy appreciate too! Love y’all!

Interviewed by Melissa Cusano





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