Her Story

Some songwriters will tell you that the Muse can be fickle: apt to come and go on its own unpredictable schedule and demanding a level of devotion and patience that can try all but the most committed of suitors. But sometimes, the Muse can be patient, too — as if fully understanding that sometimes it’s the artist and not just the art that’s worth waiting for.

Monet Maddux was worth that wait. Sure, it may have taken her a bit longer than most to discover — and embrace — her born-with-it voice as both a songwriter and performer, but a decade down the line from picking up a guitar and setting words to her own melodies for the first time just north of her 30s, the multiple business owner, proud mother of two and resilient breast cancer survivor is at long last ready to answer destiny’s call and take it for the joyride of her life.

Where that ride takes her is anyone’s guess, which of course is part of the thrill. “I’m not putting any pressure on the outcome,” she says of her modest aspirations for her full-length debut, “because I’m just doing it for me.” But if that makes Monet Maddux (August 2018) sound like a “vanity project,” bear in mind not just that it was produced by none other than Americana music legend Ray Wylie Hubbard, but that he offered to do it.

“I had sent him an EP I made (2017’s 11:11), because he said he wanted to hear it,” Maddux explains, “and after he heard it, he told me, ‘If you ever want to do a full album, I will produce it.’ And I about fell down. Because someone came to me! It didn’t seem real. It almost seemed … outrageous. I mean, these things just don’t happen to people in their 40s!”

But as Hubbard of all people could testify, that’s actually right about the age when more than a few artists of genuine grit and substance really find their groove; by his own admission, Hubbard didn’t even begin to take his own songwriting seriously until after he hit the big 4-0 himself. And although Maddux didn’t have a comparable 20-odd years of industry experience going into her own midlife musical awakening, doubtless Hubbard intuitively recongized her as a kindred spirit “condemned by the gods to write.”

“Ever since childhood, my happy place was always writing,” says Maddux, recalling how, as a little girl growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, she would spend many a long afternoon in the back of her mom’s station wagon — her makeshift “office” — filling up notebooks with poems and short stories. “I would lose all track of time in there; I would come out hours later and my mom would be like, ‘Where have you been? I’ve been looking for you!’

“So I always knew writing was my thing,” Maddux continues. “I just didn’t know where to ‘put it’ — or how I would do it for a living when I grew up.”

To wit, her idea to maybe try writing childrens books never panned out, and neither did her stab at journalism, even after studying it at Auburn University. “I had a professor tell me when I was in school that if I was going to be a journalist for a living, that I was going to be broke and skinny!” she admits with a laugh. “I actually did have a journalism job in Birmingham, and I was terrible. I guess I just didn’t like relaying information, or felt I couldn’t be creative enough, but it didn’t suit me at all. After that, I decided I needed to get my head out of the clouds and move on, and sort of excluded myself from the whole idea of writing — at least as far as ever doing it for any kind of a ‘job.'”

The last thing on her mind at that point, even after a move to Nashville — Music City, U.S.A. — was songwriting. “I just wanted to go to another city, start over and sort of look around; it had nothing to do with wanting to find a songwriting career,” she says. But she did end up finding her future husband, Scott Maddux, and together they spent many a night making the most of the vibrant Nashville music scene — albeit only as fans. “We were always at a live show somewhere,” she recalls. “As soon as we got paid, we spent the money on concert tickets, beer, and rent — and in that order!”

A few years later, after marrying and moving to Maryville, Tennessee, the couple ended up opening their own music venue, The Shed Smokehouse & Jukejoint — conveniently located right next to their own Harley-Davidson dealership. Running two demanding businesses on top of raising a family was hard work, but 14 years down the line, so far, so good: Their Smoky Mounain Harley-Davidson dealership was recently honored by the world-famous motorcycle company with a Bar and Shield Award as its No. 1 dealership in the country, while The Shed has hosted a veritable who’s who of Americana and roots rock’s biggest names, ranging from the late Leon Russell to Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton, and of course the aforementiond Mr. Hubbard.

As for how Maddux would one day come to make her own record with Hubbard, not to mention find herself regularly singing her own songs onstage at The Shed (sometimes solo, someimes backed by a full band featuring her husband Scott on lead guiar), well … all it took was a subtle push from her older brother.

“He had started writing his own music, down in Jacksonville, Florida, and he had this piece he’d written as an anniversary gift to his wife and asked if I could write some lyrics for it,” explains Maddux, who continued to share her poetry with close friends and family long after she ruled writing out as a viable career option. “It was just a favor for my brother, so I wasn’t intimidated or anything. I remember getting the music online and taking out some paper, listening over and over, marking when the verse started and when the chorus began. I didn’t know anything about charting music so I just made up a system of my own. Then I wrote some heartfelt words that told a story. That’s when I had an epiphany; songwriting was a lot like writing in my journal, just with a little timing. Soon my brother was sending instrumental music all of the time. That’s when the fire was lit and I fell in love with turning words into musical lyrics.

“I was up early and up late every single day consumed with songwriting,” she continues. “I’d finish a song and ask him to send more music; he couldn’t keep up I was writing lyrics so fast. I finally picked up a guitar of my husband’s and taught myself some chords. I was 40 years old. And that was it. I remember crying out loud, just from playing my own song on the guitar.”

Even then, she still didn’t ever see herself performing in public or making a record — but she did begin booking studio time so she could submit demos to a song-plugging agency. She didn’t land any cuts out of the process, but the critiques she got back by the professional song “experts” proved invaluable in bolstering her confidence. And it wasn’t just the positive reviews that did the trick, either. “I submitted one of my favorite songs, called ‘Beg Me to Stay,’ which opens with the line, ‘We’re locking horns when you slam the door …’ And the girl who sent the critique back, I guess she was like 25 years old, goes, ‘Locking horns? I don’t get it. Like, a car horn?”

Monet can’t help but laugh. “It was so absurd that I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, thank you!’ I’d become frustrated over the years, feeling like I couldn’t go forward, so I really needed to read that review. I realized (some of) the people critiquing my work just plain didn’t understand me or my songs. That was the day I stopped sending my work to people who were never going to hear me. It was liberating!”

So liberating, in fact, that Maddux soon found herself “pumping out two or three songs a week” — the kind that come straight from the heart and gut with no filter. And it wasn’t long after that that people in the industry who did “hear” and recognize that substance in her songs (not to mention in her vocals, too) began to further bolster her conviction. The award-winning songwriter Stephony Smith (Tim McGraw, Dixie Chicks, Reba McEntire) — who happened to be the aunt of Maddux’s tennis partner — became something of a mentor and career coach, and Knoxville artist, producer, and mult-instrumentalist Will Carter produced the Muscle Shoals-inspired 11:11 EP that ultimately led her to working wih Hubbard.

“Ray was very complimentary about the EP, but he said, ‘I think your sound could be a little more swampy and grassroots … a little more … Red Dirt,'” she recalls. Which is how Maddux found herself at the beginning of 2018 deep in the heart of Texas, recording at The Zone Studio with Hubbard’s hand-picked crew of some of the best players in the greater Austin area (and by extension, in all Americana music), including both Hubbard and his guitar-slinging son, Lucas, “Scrappy” Judd Newcomb, Andrew Hardin, Kyle Schneider, and Pat Maske. Maddux wrote every song on the album, but she let Hubbard hand-pick those, too.

“I remember when he listened to the first song I sent him for this, which was ‘Sweetheart or Heartache,’ he said, ‘You just got lucky! Let me hear another one.’ Then, ‘Holy crap, send me another one!’ I ended up sending him like 30 right out of the gate, and he chose the ones he thought he could really put his flair on.”

And sure enough, you can hear that patented Ray Wylie “grit ‘n’ groove” all through Monet Maddux. But true to the album’s eponymous title, it’s Monet’s own true grit that registers loudest of all across all 11 tracks. And though it may be her debut, naive it’s definitely not. When she sings about the walloping punch of love at first sight in the opening “You Make Me Boom Boom,” she lays it all on the line right from the start with the no-nonsense manner of a woman with no time for playing games: “What’s it gonna take to make this a done deal?” Maddux notes that she makes a concerted effort to avoid writing about herself “75 percent of the time,” but there’s no denying the degree of first-hand experience and personal insight behind her observations about how to make real-life relationships last long past the honeymoon stage through compromise, sacrifice, and mutual understanding (“60/40,” “Yin & Yang”). Ditto the balance of deep-rooted spirituality and candid self-awareness that informs “Open Up this Gate,” a sinner’s prayer that finds Maddux reckoning with her maker with both humility and swagger; to paraphrase her case before St. Peter, “I ain’t no saint, but I’m not leaving until you hear me out!”

From start to finish, the whole album sizzles with that palpable sense of hard-earned, lived-in wisdom, passion, and release. It’s the joyous exhaltation of a grown-ass woman emboldened by the rush of finally finding the perfect outlet for her artisic soul — and with it the reassurance of an ever-patient Muse that never left the side of that little girl from Alabama who loved to write, even when Monet herself came damn close to giving up and losing faith.

“I want to support this album, because I believe in the writing and what these songs turned out to be, but I already have enough songs to do another album, as soon as I can,” enthuses Maddux. “This is how I know this is supposed to be happening now. I literally write songs all the time: in the car, in the shower … even when I’m cooking at the stove, I’ll have a guitar over me and an iPad on hand to write down ideas. I mean, I’ll wake up around 5 in the morning, and as soon as I open my eyes, I’ll be thinking of songs. As soon as I learned how to do this, it was like the faucet turned on.

“I wish I had the foresight as a teenager to know I was suppose to be, not just a writer but, a songwriter — it would have saved me years of frustration!” she continues. “One thing is for sure, though: I have always valued the power of words and been transformed by the lyrics of a powerful song. In the past there have been songs that seemed to actually know me, and in some special cases, lyrics that seemed to know me better than anyone else. Those are the songs I wanna write; that’s what wakes me up early and keeps me up late.”

Monet Maddux may be a relative newcomer to the performing singer-songwriter playing field, but there’s no mistaking her for a “rookie.” Although the Alabama native didn’t begin writing songs, singing and learning guitar until well into adulthood (when she already had a family and two very successful businesses — including an award-winning Harley Davidson dealership — under her belt), Maddux’s passion for words and music has informed her entire life: from the hours she’d spend as a little girl escaping to her “happy place” — writing poetry and stories in her notebooks — to the 14 years and counting that she’s co-owned (with her guitar-playing husband, Scott Maddux) The Shed Smokehouse & Jukejoint, which has brought many of the biggest names in Americana and roots rock to their beloved adopted hometown of Maryville, Tennessee. As for why it took her so long to begin composing and singing her own songs, well, just chalk it up to her unabashed awe for the art form and respect for those who created it for a livng.

“I have always valued the power of words and been transformed by the lyrics of a powerful song,” she says, noting that it honestly never occurred to her that she, too, had the soul of a musician and the ability (or gift) to channel that same transforming power herself. At least not until right around age 40, when her older brother asked her for help in writing words to some songs he had written. “He knew I had always liked to write, so it started with me just writing lyrics for his music, just as a favor,” she recalls. “But once I began playing an instrument and started putting words to my own melodies, I was up early and up late every single day consumed with songwriting. It was like turning on a faucet.” Early on in her discovery, she was still uncertain as to what to do with all those songs, and it would be a while longer — after sending a handful of demos to song pitchers for professional feedback, some of them sung by hired vocalists — before she came to the realization that she needed to start singing, performing, and recording them herself. It was that leap of faith that led to the recording of her 2017 EP, 11:11, with Knoxville artist, producer, and mult-instrumentalist Will Carter. Upon hearing the EP, Texas songwriting legend (and Shed favorite) Ray Wylie Hubbard made Maddux an offer she couldn’t refuse: “If you ever want to do a full album, I will produce it.”

Recorded deep in the heart of Texas with Hubbard’s hand-picked crew of some of Austin’s finest musicians, the resulting Monet Maddux is a debut that plays like a seasoned troubadour’s career best: 11 Monet originals packed with Southern sass and swagger and the grit, wit, and wisdom of a grown-ass woman emboldened by the rush of finally finding the perfect outlet for her artistic soul. Better late than never? Hell no: More like right on time — and she’s just getting warmed up.


What’s it gonna take to make this a done deal
I want you for my own I wont borrow or steal
I feel a good vibration I gotta tingling sensation
It’s just my dumb luck that I got moon struck when you walked-in

*I swear, my eyes got wide when I saw you
My tongue got tied, I couldn’t breathe or move
Awe, it’s a crazy feeling but a beautiful thing

Now I’m about to go and throw caution to the wind
Boy, its gonna blow you away when you hear all the things I’m thinking
So here’s your invitation, you gotta win-win situation
Don’t think twice, come on roll the dice & the games begin


She won’t look me in the eye, no something ain’t right
Oh, who’s the little lady who’s been hovering lately
She’s like an ally cat pawing at the back porch doormat
Purring, circling wanting you to let her in

*Who’s that talking ‘bout taking my man
Who’s that hoping that maybe she can
Who’s that
Who’s that thinking she can fill my shoes
Who’s that walking too close to you
Who’s that

She’s been stepping on a fine line
Skipping through a land mine
Making mighty bold moves
Acting like a damn fool

You better tell her, make her understand
You ain’t a two-timing man
If she needs to hear from me
I will tell her happily

She’s like a cottonmouth curled round waiting to strike
Lurking in the toolshed about to bite
I see her in the dark, I smell her stench
I’m watching like a hawk she better not move an inch


I’ve fallen out of favor, been face down on the floor
I’ve cried out for the savior, painted blood red on the door
Lift me up sweet angel if that’s what you’re here for
I’m through fighting you Gabriel, now set aside your sword

*Open up this gate and roll away that stone
Oh yes, I’m far from perfect
No, I’m not a saint
The Good Book says I’m worth it
though some say I ain’t
Open up this gate and roll away that stone
I’ve found my way home

As I look back I wonder was I ever alone
Were the prayers of my mother a barrier for my wrong
Somewhere in the distance I’ve heard the sweetest song
I’ve just had to figure out the words so I could sing along


Even a wretch like me can learn Amazing Grace
and turn about-face


You know I’d take a bullet for you
Take the fall and the blame too
Believe me baby, nothing I wouldn’t do
But there’s a fine line

I don’t mind a few rude mistakes
You can bruise my heart but it better not break
You know what they say about love and hate
There’s a fine line

*Please don’t cross that line
Whatever you do
Please don’t cross that line
There’s a part of me on the other side
That won’t forgive you

Everyday I thank the Lord above
He brought me you and you taught me love
But handle me with kid gloves ‘cause
There’s a fine line

Never step across that place in the sand
It’s cold and dark but part of who I am
When ya been hurt over and over again
You grow a fine line


I don’t blame you for blaming me
I wasn’t there for you, I didn’t know how to be
I was doing like I was done
And while you were growing, growing, growing
I was gone

There’s no excuse for where I’ve been
I should’a driven you to school, should’a been tucking you in
Sometimes I was working, sometimes just having fun
While you were growing, growing, growing I was gone

*Will you lay down your guard and let me hold you in my arms
Will you pretend I’ve never left your side
If I close my eyes and go way back in my mind
Will you be five years old one more time

Even though it don’t matter now
I was always talking ‘bout you passing pictures around
But I understand where you’re coming from
‘Cause while I was growing, growing, growing
they were gone


I don’t blame you for blaming me
I wasn’t there for you, I didn’t know how to be
I was doing like I was done
And while you were growing, growing, growing
I was gone

We use to be 50/50 all the time
Everything right down the line
You went left and I went right
And in the middle we’d meet at night

Well, it ain’t been easy truth be told
We climbed the ladder and fell flat broke
I’d start to cry and you’d make me laugh
Going all way takes more than half

*You and me
We’re two parts of one thing
And when 50/50 hurts
60/40 works

Our babies brought the sun and rain
Rough, long nights and tough, hard days
We’d wake dead tired and roll our sleeve
Yeah, we might walk away but never leave


There ain’t no such thing as fair and square
Now it’s more or less we just don’t care
We gotta love down deep and stay the course
Gotta keep betting on that long shot horse


We go 50/50, 60/40, if you need me honey 80/20

Hey girl, you make it look so easy
The way you walk in the room, wink at the barkeep
Waltz on the dance floor like you’re parting the Red Sea

Girl, I wish I could be groovy like you
In a silk-blue kimono, your hair cut in a shag
Snakeskin stilettos, wearing a halo like a hat

*Girl, share your secret
I swear, I’ll keep it under lock and key
You gotta carefree spirit, you dare to be different
You’re everything I want to be
Girl, share your secret with me

Girl, I wish I could preach the truth like you do
You don’t apologize or lie, no you tell it like it is
Then leave us all wanting more, blowing us an air kiss

Girl, you’re a Tarantino movie
You’re far out and super cool, you’re a star in outer space
You’re beautiful like Uma in a peculiar kinda way


You set’em up, I knock’em down
You’re a straight shooter, I hem-haw around
You’re understanding, I’m misunderstood
You ain’t half bad honey, I ain’t that good

*We’re Yin & Yang
We’ll never be the same thing
But if the sun and moon get along alright
Maybe left and right and wrong tonight
Take my hand, feel that spark of lightning
That’s static electricity, a little Yin & Yang
And a whole lotta you and me

You’re hot and spicy, Im’a sugar sweet
You get up and at’em while I’m still asleep
You’re complicated; I’m a simple girl
You’re a homebody baby, I wanna see the world


Our love lies in-between
Baby, our love lies in-between
Our love lies in-between all the extremes


You gotta clean slate hanging over your head
And I ain’t done one thing I regret yet
I gotta size you up ‘fore you let me down
Are you a good ‘ole boy or a man about town

*If I roll the dice will you be naughty or nice
Are you my new sweetheart or my next heartache
Don’t make me guess, I’m begging please
Playing hard to get is too hard on me
Sweetheart or my next heartache
Come on tell the truth shoot me straight which one are you
Sweetheart or heartache

Well, I’ve been bitten twice so I’m a little shy
But I’d change my mind if you’re the right guy
Don’t you be a mistake that I’ll wanna undo
Caught red-handed claiming you’re true-blue


If I roll the dice will you be naughty or nice
Sweetheart or heartache

A sinner’s gotta a future a saint’s gotta past
Ain’t nobody perfect and nothing lasts
Three second chances and one more night
Won’t clean our slate or make it all alright

*I’m sorry, I said I’m sorry
What more can I do or say if my love for you is lost
I’m sorry, I said I’m sorry
How much will I have to pay for you to take me off
This cross

Instead of going around saying this and that
Will you please take the bullseye off my back
“Cause we both are to blame we both know why
If you don’t stoke a flame it’s gonna die


Ya don’t smile and hold my hand no more
We don’t laugh the way we did before
Don’t hate me cause I’m gonna leave
I’m at the end of my rope hanging by a string
Have mercy, let’s live and let live
You won’t forget but you’ve got to forgive


There is a high and mighty lion watching over the goat and lamb
One understands his sacrifice but one can’t comprehend
And there’s a serpent lurking down below, he’ll eat’em whole if he can
The lion saves’em, the serpent slays’em, both want the goat and lamb

*The lake of fire is on the rise
Make no mistake this ain’t the river of life
You can open or close your eyes
But realize your true desire
The lake of fire is on rise

As the herd is separating the rock of ages turns to sand
Some run left, some run right, some still can’t comprehend
And the serpent he’s hell bent and wants a little more than an upper-hand
In a stranglehold he grabs the goat into the flames he drags him in


Every star begins to fall and darkness stains the land
Thundering trumpets start to call, the ending now begins
The serpent’s silver tongue unfolds, he grins and licks the lamb
And the lion rips his head from his throat, that’s all she wrote, AMEN