From the moment she steps into the spotlight and begins picking her banjo – her dad’s 1972 Gibson Mastertone, to be exact – it’s undeniable that being on stage is where Lockwood Barr feels most at home.
The Tiburon, California native credits her successes thus far, which include Country Music Association emerging artist recognition and winning an Independent Country Music Association Award as banjo player for bluegrass group The Nashvegas Ramblers, to fearless pursuit of her passions. That, and her incredibly tight-knit musical family.
“My dad always says that he knew he wanted to marry my mother when he walked into her apartment and saw a banjo sitting there,” smiles Lockwood. Music is a way of life for the Barr family. With a sister who grew up singing alongside her in church choir, a mother who once shared the stage with Grammy-winner John Hartford and cousin who is the lead man for the Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys, this multi-instrumentalist is hard-pressed to remember a time in her youth where she wasn’t around music.
While Lockwood logged over 60 show dates in 2015, her performance-packed lifestyle began long before her career in country. Whether it was playing guitar in community productions, accompanying family sing-a-longs on piano or competing in state-wide tap dance competitions, the energetic teen quickly fell in love with being on stage. What was equally as impressive as her artistic endeavors, however, was Lockwood’s intense drive to succeed, a trait surely passed down by her parents, both of whom graduated from Harvard Business School. After honing her songwriting skills in high school and frequently performing around the San Francisco bay area, Locky – as her friends nicknamed her – soon decided it was time to take her career to the next level, allowing her dreams to take her to Music City.
With bluegrass in her blood and determination second to none, the effervescent blonde moved to Nashville (where her mother was raised), enrolled at Vanderbilt University and dove head first into the music industry. Outside of the classroom, the Tennessee transplant spent her time relentlessly performing at local songwriter rounds, channeling her musical influences (which range from Nickel Creek and Stevie Nicks to Beethoven and the Dixie Chicks) and co-writing with fellow artists as often as possible. While preparing material for a debut project, Barr eventually caught the eye of Jen Gunderman, Sheryl Crow’s keyboard player. Gunderman produced Lockwood’s debut album 25th Hour, which was released at a sold out show at historic 19 Broadway in Fairfax, California.
A few years later as she walked off stage at 2015’s CMA Fest in her go-to Durango boots and greeted countless fans, it was made clear that Lockwood’s music has earned her a nationwide following. Since the release of her first project, Lockwood’s captivating stage presence has provided her opportunities to open for artists like Tyler Hilton, Anne Hills, Wiz Khalifa and more. “There is a fire in my belly that drives me to perform,” explains Lockwood with conviction. “I want my listeners to feel what I’m feeling. Connecting with audiences is my favorite part about being an artist.”
Hard at work on a new full-length album set to release in summer of 2016, Barr is currently in the studio working with producer Matt Odmark of the Grammy award-winning Christian rock band Jars of Clay. Showcasing both Barr’s eclectic writing style and technical ability as an instrumentalist, this forthcoming album includes everything from infectious bluesy tracks (“Starve You Outta My Heart”) and heartfelt country ballads (“Forgotten How to Cry”) to folk-influenced melodies (“Indian Summer”) and upbeat love songs (“Can’t Help Lovin’ You”). Behind Lockwood’s refreshingly whimsical vocals is, of course, a hearty dose of her signature banjo work. “In each of my songs is a story and I’m here to share my stories with the world,” she says.
This Californian has crafted a unique sound that is here to stay: unapologetically bold yet playfully relatable. When it comes to emerging women in today’s country music scene, it is clear that Lockwood – armed with killer musicianship and a personality that shines as bright as her electrifying blue eyes – is truly raising the Barr.