June 06, 2016

From an AFSCME family to a Nashville star

This is a sneak peek from the May-June 2016 issue of On The Move, the member newspaper of AFSCME Council 31. Union members, watch your mailboxes for the paper including this story and much more! 

One of the brightest new country music stars in Nashville comes from an AFSCME union family right here in Illinois.

With her debut album Midwest Farmer's Daughter, Margo Price has landed a guest spot on "Saturday Night Live", a video on CMT, and a rave review in Rolling Stone, which called her “undeniable” and compared her to Loretta Lynn.

But what looks like a rocket ride to stardom is really the latest twist in a long road that started in Aledo, Ill., southwest of the Quad Cities, where Margo and her sisters were raised by mom Candace and dad Duane. He worked for 25 years in Illinois prisons, first as a correctional officer at East Moline, where he was a member of AFSCME Local 46, and then as a lieutenant at Hill Correctional Center (Local 1274). Duane was a PEOPLE contributor and after his retirement in 2010 joined AFSCME Retirees.

Little Margo playing drums"From her adolescent years on up, Margo was just very interested in music," her dad says. "She always had the radio on, went to voice lessons, piano lessons. Then she picked up a guitar. In high school she was a cheerleader and she would sing the national anthem at football and basketball games, a cappella.

"At age 20 she decided she wanted to move to Nashville and try to pursue a music career," Duane goes on. "Of course, as we all know, that can be a pipedream for a lot of people. She went through some real tough times."

Those struggles—13 years’ worth from the time she dropped out of Northern Illinois University—are a frequent source of subject matter in Margo's songs. Besides bad breakups, money troubles and hard drinking, there's the heart-wrenching death of an infant son that touched off a tailspin and ended with a weekend in jail.

"She's writing from the heart," Duane says. "I think she felt she'd come to a point where she was just going to sing what she feels, and with songs like 'Hurtin' (On the Bottle)', I think a lot of people can relate."

It's working.

Midwest Farmer's Daughter got a high-profile release on Third Man Records, the label owned by Jack White of the White Stripes.

Album cover

In February, Margo performed for the first time at the Grand Ole Opry. Her parents were in the crowd.

Duane had seen the legendary show once before, as a child tagging along with his own parents. To return decades later with his daughter on stage "was euphoric," he says. "It was just amazing to see her in that center circle where so many great performers have stood."

The coming months will find Margo making more memories at Willie Nelson's annual picnic outside Austin, Tex., on July 4, on "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon on July 14, and at the Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago's Millennium Park on September 7.

"I'm just so happy for her that things have come around in her direction," Duane says. "She's still very humble. Other than her spirits being lifted by a little bit of success, she's still the same girl she was when I dropped her off in Nashville years ago."

Duane remains a fan of his union, too.

"AFSCME got me a good wage, good benefits and good representation," he says. "The union is a necessity, let's put it that way. Without it, where would the average Joe be?"

Visit Margo Price on the web or watch her play “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle)” live at the Grand Ole Opry below:

Related News

There are no related news stories.