Culture

Margo in Motion


For country star Margo Price, the long road to musical success is more than a metaphor.

Words by JENNIFER JUSTUSPHOTOGRAPHY BY WHITTEN SABBATINI

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Updated

5 Apr 2024

Reading Time

5 Minutes

ONE DAY, MARGO PRICE would cut a string of acclaimed albums, hewing to country music but also bending genres. She’d earn a Grammy nomination and sit on the Farm Aid Board alongside Willie Nelson and Neil Young. There would be network TV spotlights, an acclaimed memoir and big-time festival gigs.

But in June 2008, all of that was in the future. At that moment, it was just Price, her band, and a four-cylinder 1986 Winnebago LeSharo. Gearing up for their first national tour, Price and her bandmates dubbed their ride “Winnie Cooper.”

“The upholstery and everything was original,” Price remembers. “So it was nostalgia, maybe for my childhood.”

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They used paper maps and ran a Discman through the cassette deck. They called venues under an invented name, figuring they’d be taken more seriously if they had a “booking agent.” They went from Illinois to Nashville, then onward to North Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona and California. In Arizona, Winnie Cooper needed a mechanic. In California, she spontaneously slowed to a putter, with a top speed of about 35.

“We were going up the Pacific Coast Highway with people honking at us, irate,” Price says. “We ended up selling Winnie to some hippies.”

For Price, who turns 41 this month, that “ragamuffin tour” fanned flames of a wanderlust that has infused her career as she’s grown into a star. Though she’s strongly associated with Nashville and a vein of rebellious Americana, her geographic influences range well beyond her home in the Music City. Title aside, Price’s 2016 solo debut, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, sits squarely in a Nashville world of honky tonk twang and lyrical misadventures. But more recently, her sound has rambled. The songs on last year’s Strays came together under Charleston’s Spanish moss, and moments on the record (and on Strays II, a surprise follow-up companion) evoke the desert, California, Topanga Canyon. “That album,” she said, “might be a little bit of a nomad.”

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Price’s earliest travels were family trips to Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks (“It felt like such a magical place—waterfalls and crazy cliffs my dad would jump off ”). At 19, she drifted to Nashville, then to Colorado, where she busked and lived in a tent with bandmate and now husband Jeremy Ivey (a songwriter himself ). The pair resettled in Nashville. Price’s 2022 memoir, Maybe We’ll Make It, tells the tale: struggles to keep making music in the face of poverty, sexual harassment and the grief of losing one of her twin boys shortly after giving birth in 2010, the result of a congenital heart condition.

The Wildsam QUESTIONNAIRE

GAS STATION SNACK OF CHOICE

If I was trying to be healthy, then cashews are the way to go. But I'm not going to lie, I love Flamin' Hot Cheetos.

BEST SONG TO COME ON THE CAR RADIO

Tom Petty, "American Girl.'"

BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED

When I was nervous about being pregnant again, Loretta Lynn happend to call, not knowing I was pregnant. She invited me to play her birthday, then started talking about how I should have another baby—just not be worried, have as many babies as I want. Like, "It's not going to ruin your career. People are going to love you. Don't worry about it."

These days, Price and Ivey live with their son and daughter on a wooded spread just outside Nashville. Winnie Cooper may be long gone, but Price still logs some serious miles: Already this year, she’s played a Deadhead festival in Cancun, mini-toured the U.K. and Ireland, and joined Mandy Moore and a roster of indie acts for a piano gig at Carnegie Hall. In her memoir, Price recalls a moment from that first tour when the band joined some locals for a late-night dip in the Atlantic. As they snuck across private property toward the water, under a full moon, a new acquaintance asked where the band was headed next. Price whispered a one-word answer: “Everywhere.”

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