Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles Guides Us Through Nashville

Half of the hit duo Sugarland tells us what she loves about music, motherhood and Nashville

After taking a break from smash country duo Sugarland to bond with her young son, Magnus, Jennifer Nettles is stepping out on her own. She’s got a new solo album, “That Girl,” which came out in January 2014, and spent much of the year traveling on a 30-city tour. We talked with the talented singer/songwriter about new beginnings, guilty pleasures and what makes Nashville home.

Q: Tell us about your new solo album. What’s the sound?

A: Being from the South, I have diverse musical influences. This album is a mixture of those influences: country, gospel, singer-songwriter and ’70s radio. 

Q:  What is your favorite song from the album and why?

A: Ooooooooh. That's tough. I love them each for different reasons. For example, I love "This Angel" because it's about my son; I love "Good Time to Cry" because it's so fun to sing; and I love "Jealousy" because it's so sassy. 

Q: How is it different performing as a solo act than as part of a duo?

A: Not very. My job is the same: write, record and perform as a front woman. What is different is the music.

Q: How has it been being back on the road? Is Magnus a good traveler?

A: I love live music and I love performing. It is the purest way music can be enjoyed! Magnus is a great traveler. I'm lucky that he's a good baby. Flexible and relaxed. But travel has its challenges as a family for sure. 

Q: The tour has been getting great reviews. What music are you listening to now?

A: There's so much good music out now! Foye Vance is a great singer-songwriter. 1975 is an awesome band for rolling down the windows and singing. 

Q: Any up-and-comers that we should look out for?

A: I don't know about "up and comers" but the Internet has made music so explorable. There are so many musicians out there who aren't "mainstream radio" but are SO good! Foye Vance, Jason Isbell, Holly Williams, 1975, Bastille, Joy Williams ... check them out! 

Q: What’s been the biggest surprise about being a mom? 

A: Haha! How deeply and instinctively one can love, and sleep deprivation. 

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve been given about being a working mom, and a musician to boot? Who gave it to you?

A: "It seems tough now, but before you know it, he'll be sitting beside you eating a grilled cheese and you'll wonder where the time went.” Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town told me this. And she was right. 

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Jennifer admits she has a certain "guilty pleasure" for Jeni's ice cream products. (©Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams)

Q: Why is Nashville such a good place to raise a family?

A: Nashville has a balance of accessibility to the country and some of the conveniences and culture of the city: A Southern city with lots of options. A win-win. 

Q: What are some of your favorite thing to do in Nashville? Any favorite places to hear live music?

A: I love the Nashville flea market. It is HUGE! I have lots of fun finding treasures there. Third weekend each month. Hands down: The Ryman. Such a magical place. I've had the honor of both playing and seeing shows there. It never runs dry. It never gets old. It has spirit. 

Q: What’s one thing about Nashville that will surprise an out-of-towner?

A: Nashville has so many diverse neighborhoods. It is actually very rich in international culture. Go and enjoy some of the food off Nolansville Pike and you'll see what I mean.  

Q: What’s your guilty pleasure and where can we indulge?

A: Easy: Jeni's Ice Cream. Go now. Best ice cream I've ever had. Such unique flavors that taste exactly like their names. 

Q: Nashville’s restaurant scene is exploding. Can you recommend a couple?

A: City House and Rolf and Daughters

Q: If you could wake up anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would that be?

A: Paris, NY, Barcelona, Tuscany, Tulum, Mexico and most of all, HOME!

Q: What do you never leave home without (besides family, of course)?

A: Hand sanitizer and lip balm. 

Q: Any tips for travelers?

A; Pack everything. And hand sanitizer and lip balm. 

Q: So what’s next for you?

A: Right now? Bed :-). After that, the world.