Everyone likes a good “I knew them when” story, and at Inside Columbia, we’re no exception. We knew singer/songwriter Hilary Scott when she was just starting out, living and performing here, and chose her to grace our ninth cover back in December 2005. She was the first woman featured on the cover.
Check out Hilary’s ICM feature from 2005
Scott went on to make a name for herself in the wider world.
Now a resident of Puget Sound, Washington, Scott is an acclaimed Indie-Americana artist about to release her 12th studio album, “Don’t Call Me Angel.” The album release will take place at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, at The Bridge in Jefferson City. That evening will also see the Midwestern premiere of the title track’s music video.
Scott came to Columbia in her 20s and had been active on the local music scene for about three years when she appeared on our cover. She recalls opening for Little Feat at The Blue Note.
“It was a great venue that made a huge impression,” she says. “I felt very excited to do that.” Scott was told that if you play at The Blue Note, “you’ve made it.”
Scott found the Columbia community supportive and welcoming. “I couldn’t think of a better place to have gotten my start. I’m really grateful to Columbia,” she says. Scott made some of her best friends here — “friends for life” — and has many fond memories.
“I miss the great downtown,” she says. “There aren’t that many smaller city downtowns that are so cool and fun.”
Scott found her way to music early in life — very early. She says her mom loves to tell the story of how Hilary would climb up on the piano bench when she was just 2. Unlike other 2-year-olds, she didn’t pound on the keys but, instead, picked out little melodies. Her mom sensed something special and searched for a piano teacher willing to work with a very young student. Scott started lessons at 4.
“I feel like music sort of chose me,” she says.
Her piano teacher heard Scott sing and encouraged her to pursue that as well. Stints in choir followed, along with violin lessons. Today, Scott is a multi-instrumentalist who also plays acoustic guitar and ukulele — talents on display on her current album along with her singing and piano playing.
Scott opted to minor in music and studied opera in Italy for a year. Songwriting also continued to be a passion. She started as a prose writer, she says, creating short stories. She quickly realized she could channel that love of storytelling into her songs. Over the years, she also spent time in Asia as a resident artist in hotels for months at a time. Among her favorite places were Korea, Japan and Vietnam.
Over the years Scott’s definition of success has changed. When she was younger, she equated it with playing big venues such as arenas. But now she feels blessed for the many different-sized opportunities she’s had, “little hallmarks of what has happened over the years.”
“It’s so cool I can make a living playing music. This is a beautiful, wonderful, creative job,” she says, and one that continues to amaze her. “Sometimes I do have ‘wow’ moments.”
Scott’s main goal is always to reach the listener one on one. On “Don’t Call Me Angel,” she sings nine original songs and one cover (of Prince’s “Kiss”) directly to someone else, as though singing to a lover. The results are intimate and moving personal stories. By sharing her emotions so fully, Scott evokes them in her listeners, as well.