Marshall Chapman

Marshall Chapman


Singer, songwriter, author and performer: rhythm and words, served up with grace, wit and passion; delivering a solo show to audiences of 60 to 1600. Marshall combines a la Lucinda Williams with the stage presence of a female rocker a la Chrissy Hynde or Marianne Faithful.


Marshall Chapman was born and raised in Spartanburg, South Carolina. One evening when she was seven years old, and her parents were out of town, Cora Jeter – the maid-turned-babysitter – took her purposefully by the hand and said, “Come on, child! Let’s go see what all the fuss is about. They say he white, but sing like he colored!” The year was 1956. “He” was Elvis Presley. The venue was Spartanburg’s Carolina Theater, where Jeter half-carried, half-pulled the tow-headed Chapman up two flights of stairs to the balcony reserved for “coloreds.”

“I felt like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz,” Marshall says. “I knew I was no longer in Kansas. It was hot and stuffy up there with everybody buzzing around. When Elvis came on, it was like an explosion. The whole place just shook. I…. you know how at birth babies bond with their mothers? Well, I held out and bonded with Elvis.”

A few years later, a friend’s older brother went away for the summer and left Marshall his Silvertone electric guitar. “I learned to play the bass riff from ‘What’d I Say’ (Ray Charles) before I ever played a chord. After that it was Chuck Berry’s ‘No Money Down.’ The first 45 I ever bought was ‘Poison Ivy’ by The Coasters. First LP: Stay with Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs.”

When it came time for college, Marshall chose Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Her parents were pleased with the school’s fine academic reputation, but Marshall was more interested in the location – Music City USA. After graduation, she remained in Nashville, waiting tables by day and singing in bars at night.

After a few years of drifting around (LA, Boston, London, Ketchum [Idaho], Australia, and New Zealand), Marshall returned to Nashville and started writing songs. “The first five got recorded in the order they were written,” she says. “I was encouraged!” Within a year she was signed to Epic (CBS/SONY) Records. Three albums later she was dropped from the label:.

Marshall Chapman was too cool and real for
Nashville in the seventies. Not to mention
too bluesy, too irreverent, too original, too
powerhouse, and too tall for an industry that
expected its ‘girl singers’ to be complacent,
subservient, and, of course, petite (the better
for pushing around).
– Alanna Nash
Stereo Review

Marshall refers to the ’80s as her “missing years.” Regardless, she managed to record Take It on Home (Rounder, 1982); tour with John Prine, Jimmy Buffett, and Lonnie Mack; and start her own label – Tall Girl Records. (Motto: “We’re too tall to sell ourselves short!”) Tall Girl’s first release was Dirty Linen (1987), which garnered great reviews and was picked up by Line Records in Germany for European distribution. All the while, Marshall wrote songs that other artists recorded – artists like Joe Cocker, Dion, Irma Thomas, Emmylou Harris, John Hiatt, Wynonna, Sawyer Brown, Ronnie Milsap, Tanya Tucker, Jimmy Buffett, Conway Twitty, Russ Taff, and Saffire: the Uppity Blues Women.

The ’90s started off with a bang. Marshall put together a new band – The Love Slaves – and recorded Inside Job (Tall Girl). Stereo Review voted it “Best Recording of the Month” (April 1992).

In 1993, Marshall recorded a live concert at the Tennessee State Prison for Women. Old pal Jimmy Buffett heard the tape and signed her to his label. It’s About Time… was the first release on Margaritaville/Island, heralding Buffett’s new partnership with Chris Blackwell. Again, rave reviews from Time, USA Today, Village Voice, The Washington Post, etc.

Marshall and The Love Slaves spent 1995 and part of ’96 touring with Buffett, playing for over a million people. Afterward, they went into the studio with producer Michael Utley and recorded Love Slave. According to Marshall, being a “love slave” is a way of life. “We’re all slaves to something,” she says, “…might as well be love.”

More recently, Marshall has explored new outlets for her creativity. She, songwriter Matraca Berg, and novelists Lee Smith and Jill McCorkle, along with director Paul Ferguson, created the musical Good Ol’ Girls, which toured theaters across the South in the fall of 2003. The New York Times called it a “feminist literary country-music review.”

Marshall’s first book, Goodbye, Little Rock and Roller (St. Martin’s Press), was published in September 2003. The book was a 2004 SEBA Book Award finalist, and one of three finalists for the Southern Book Critics Circle Award. A softcover edition was released in September 2004.

In the past year, Marshall has performed from San Francisco to New York; from Blytheville, Arkansas to Loachapoka, Alabama to the Harold Williams Auditorium at the Getty Museum, developing a one-woman show - "An Evening With Marshall Chapman"

Marshall is currently writing commentaries for The Bob Edwards Show (XM Satellite Radio) and touring in support


Me, I’m Feelin’ Free (Epic, 1977)
Jaded Virgin (Epic, 1978) Marshall (Epic, 1979)
Take It on Home (Rounder, 1982)
Dirty Linen (Tall Girl /Line import, 1987)
Inside Job (Tall Girl, 1991)
It’s About Time… (Island, 1995)
Love Slave (Island, 1996)
Goodbye, Little Rock and Roller (Tallgirl, 2003)
(Book companion CD)
Marshall Chapman - Live! at The Bitter End
(Tallgirl, 2004)
Mellowicious! (Tallgirl/Emergent/RED, 2006)

Goodbye, Little Rock and Roller
(St. Martin’s Press, 2003 - hardcover)
(St. Martin’s Griffin, 2004 - paperback)

Set List

"An Evening With Marshall Chapman" is generally two 45 minute sets, comprosed primarily of songs and also including readings form Marshall's book and her commentaries for The Bob Edwards Show.