Sam Bailey ’19

Major: Religion

Project(s):
Country-Folk Album (2016-17)


My dad is from the Mississippi Delta and my mom is from Brooklyn. I grew up in Selinsgrove, PA, but because my family hadn’t been there for generations - like every other family had - we were considered outsiders. I’ve never felt 100% anything. I was always too country for the city kids–my house positioned between the Pennsylvania State Game Lands and Mr. Hoover’s farm, the chicken fertilizer drifting in the April air. Yet somehow I was always too city for the country kids–my Massachusetts birth certificate sticking out like a sore thumb during midget football signups; my t-shirt from the Guggenheim. In that regard, I’ve lived my life on a bridge, halfway between this side and that.

I started writing country songs at the age of 14. The genre kept me honest to the fields of corn that ran green to golden along the back roads, and to the speedway race cars that roared in town on Friday nights. Granted, it might have been ridiculous - my young voice cracking through lyrics of prison, whiskey, and broken love, wearing a cowboy hat that didn’t fit my head. But looking back, I see a trace of something bigger in this guitar and banjo drive of mine. I was then, and am still, finding my footing on the bridge.

PA Highway, the album I will record August­ 2017 - with the help of the Ignition Fund - is a testimony of sorts; a witness to the cultures and worlds that I have had the privilege to know.