ANNIE CLEMENTS is having the time of her life...
by Janelle Landauer
Annie Clements – a New Orleans, LA native – got her start in music early on. Her father, Cranston Clements, is a Blues guitarist in New Orleans and encouraged her to be in bands with him when she was younger. She began playing bass at 13 and shortly thereafter, she joined her father on stage playing the local club scene. “He taught me so much about music and I rely on him for advice constantly,” she reveals. “He's a great person and everyone who's ever played with him loves him. When I first started out, people would give me the chance to play with them because I was Cranston Clements' daughter."
Clements attended Boston’s Berklee College of Music, where she graduated Cum Laude in Bass Performance with Voice as a doubling instrument. “Right after I graduated from Berklee, I moved back to New Orleans to play with an artist named Theresa Andersson,” notes Clements. “She and I performed at London's Wembley Stadium for the 50th Anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster along with Joe Walsh, David Gilmore, Brian May, Ronnie Wood, and a slew of well-known guitar heroes. That is one of my fondest musical memories of all time.”
From there, she began touring and recording music with the Southern Rock trio, Sons of William. “I had some of the most fun of my entire life touring with these guys, especially while opening for Marc Broussard,” says Clements. Though there were many breaks along the way, she admits that her biggest break came when she got her current gig – playing bass and singing background vocals with the 2007 CMA Best Country Duo, SUGARLAND.
In February of 2006, she received a phone call from Kristian Bush (of Sugarland). “I had been recommended to Sugarland by my good friend David LaBruyere, bassist with John Mayer and a long-time friend of Kristian's,” explains Clements. “I drove up to Nashville from New Orleans to audition for them and got the gig!” Clements started her first tour with Sugarland in March of ’06 – when they took part in Kenny Chesney’s “The Road & The Radio” tour. They also joined Chesney for part of his “Flip Flop Summer Tour” earlier this year, before headlining their own tour with CMT – “CMT On Tour 2007: Sugarland Change.”
One of the most popular performances from Sugarland’s CMT set has to be their cover of Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable.” This year at the AMA Awards, Sugarland and their band, including Annie – had the opportunity to not just play “Irreplaceable” live in front of their industry peers, friends and fans – but they were also joined by Beyonce herself! “The AMA's were great!” said an excited Clements. “I couldn't believe we really got to play with Beyonce. I didn't tell anyone about it until the day before the awards because I was so sure that it was too good to be true. You can see from my face during the performance that I was having the time of my life. She's a total pro...”
“We've had so many good times,” Clements recalls of her work with Kristian and Jennifer so far. “Making the video for "Settlin'" was an incredible experience. We just have so much fun sitting around on the bus or in the dressing room. It's hard to pin down a specific event. We've thrown some good parties on Kenny's tour. Jen and I have a lot of fun dressing up in costumes out here as well. We also like to sing songs from musicals and Disney films. She's one of my only friends who knows all the words. And I mean ALL the words.”
Aside from playing on the road with Sugarland, she also had the opportunity to go into the studio with them as a bassist and backing vocalist on their current release, Enjoy The Ride. “Being asked to be a part of this record was a complete surprise to me,” Clements confesses. “It's pretty unusual that Country superstars invite the touring band to be a part of any record. I had a blast being a part of it. It was very low-key. We went in and played through “Everyday America” just like we would on stage. I also sang background vocals on a couple songs. I LOVE tracking background vocals in the studio and it was fun to track them with Byron Gallimore.”
In her free time, Clements and a few of the guys in the band have been working to get ready for a charity race that they're participating in. “We've been working really hard out here training to get in shape for the half-marathon we're running in January for Team in Training to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society,” adds Clements. “I spend a lot of my time these days sending out emails trumpeting the cause. Also, we look up local races to participate in every city we play on a Saturday. You can keep up with our progress, donate, and cheer us on at local races in your area by visiting our page at: myspace.com/teamsugarland”
And, to the fans: “Thanks for your support! Please keep buying the records and coming to the shows! None of this is possible without you…”