Emma Tanner and Brooke Freundschuh, News Editor and Volunteer Writer

Meagan Connors never saw herself becoming an artist. The first creative endeavor she undertook was piano, which she quickly realized she hated, despite playing for six years. When imagining what she would look like as a professional musician, she always pictured herself behind a piano. For that reason alone, she decided against pursuing music as a career.

Connors (stage name CONNR) is a New York native, but moved to Memphis, Tenn., around age seven. In elementary school, she joined choir and discovered the vocal side of music. She began covering popular songs in middle school, but opted not to post them online. Her influences are Julia Michaels, Katy Perry, Paramore and John Mayer.

She wrote her first original song her freshman year of high school. A choir trip turned into a whirlwind romance, which eventually turned into heartbreak. She originally did not know if she had the capacity to write songs, but the situation moved her to write. 

“I think songs hit different places,” said Connors. “Different songs fill different moments.”

Connors obtained a degree in Popular & Commercial Music from Loyola University New Orleans in May 2019. After her freshman year, she interned at Muscle Shoals’ FAME Recording Studios. Her parents met a UNA staff member at an airport in Atlanta, who connected her to FAME. While interning, she interacted with many local creatives and began collaborating with them. The following year her friend interned at the studio, which gave Connors an excuse to return to the Shoals.

“I came [to Florence] with the intention of creating,” Connors said. “I did want to make a project, but I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. It became a whole lot more than I expected but it’s cool because I’ve been very grateful to have people around me to help fill the vision and the whole picture rather than just writing songs.”

She permanently moved to Florence in June 2019. The people she met at FAME influenced the move. She felt connected to the sound of the Shoals, Her main goal was to make music and learn from local creatives. 

The furthest she originally traveled was the recording studio. After taking up a job at The Carriage Wine & Market, she got to know the residents better. 

“Honestly, this place is amazing,” Connors said. “Like anywhere else, it’s got its quirks and its issues, but the people are so nice, it’s cheap as all get out, and I feel like there’s space to find yourself.”

Her core team of collaborators in the Shoals includes Noah Shell, whom she met through her internship at Fame; Spencer Coats, who is the head engineer at FAME; and Brad Kuhn, pianist, producer and also Connors’ roommate. She cites Shell and Cazalas as some of her favorite co-writers to work with. Being in Florence has given her a sense of consistency with her collaborators. 

Her desire to studio record music began in high school. Her school’s music program was strong and she was a member of a group that would perform on weekends. The group recorded at the University of Memphis her junior year and during her senior year, the school implemented its own recording studio. The recording she does now is slightly different, as most of the music is produced rather than performed live and recorded. High school taught her some basics, but she still finds herself learning new things as she records more tracks. 

Connor’s high school teacher helped mentor her in her early days. The students were given free reign of the recording studio and her teacher would aid them whenever they asked for it. She finds embarrassment in her earlier songs now, but still views them fondly. She also attended Berklee College of Music’s summer program for two years. 

Her college experience was both fruitful and monotonous. She did not take time to invest herself within the New Orleans community. Her classes were relatively easy to her and her brain was compatible with the work assigned. She had wished to attend Berklee but found the cost was too steep. However, she is grateful for her experiences at Loyola and the skills she learned there. 

After graduation, life in a college town is significantly different. Compared to New Orleans, Florence is a more rigid environment. The community is open and welcoming, but Connors still finds the lack of nightlife in Florence shocking. She wishes to see more events in Florence that encourage fun and living in the moment. 

In order to finish her degree, Connors was required to record and release a song. While she had been writing and recording music for some years, she had never had an official release. “Catastrophe” was co-written with Ben Lau and was created while Connors was interning in Nashville. Despite her love for the song, she usually opts not to play it at live shows.

Connors chooses to write songs based on real emotions, though they may not be about real situations. The initial assignment for “Catastrophe” was to write the song during her final semester, but she had been writing songs for eight years. She did not want to release a song solely for an assignment–it felt disingenuous. 

Her second single, “Runaway,” was released May 28, 2021 and was co-written with Brad Kuhn, Spencer Coats and Tommy Brown. Connors describes herself as having bad luck in relationships. She wanted this specific track to describe the naivete of early love. “Runaway,” while a love song, describes what Connors sees as a toxic situation. The singer is reliant on the subject to feel better.

“How wack, to be waiting on somebody else to fix you,” Connors said. “I don’t know if that’s what comes across, but there’s a little bit of toxicity.”

Connors’ third and latest single, “Pretty Money,” was released July 22, 2022. Co-writers were Brad Kuhn, Marissa Cazalas and Noah Shell. While interning in Nashville, Connors tasked herself with writing as many songs as possible. She perused song title generators until she came across “Pretty Money.” 

“I just feel like I’ve known people who think that money is God, money is everything,” Connors said. “I get that you’ve got to make money, but to sacrifice people to save a couple of dollars? I never understood that.”

“Pretty Money” stemmed from the idea of wanting to be something unattainable. The song was eventually rewritten to center around a fun-loving, partying lifestyle instead. The song is overarchingly sarcastic. At its root, it is meant to be a fun song about forgetting about heartbreak. Connors sees it as her best song released yet, but her weakest song from her current project. 

Her work is currently focused on a five-song EP, titled “Who Are You?”. The main theme centers how people affect one another. She plans to release “Deep End” soon, which embodies the feeling of naivete in love. “Knives” takes a more cynical approach and discusses feeling backstabbed, which was the first song written for the project. The next song is “Pretty Money”. The fourth song is “Hurt Me,” which centers on relationship regret and longing for a toxic situation. “Dangerous” is the fifth and last song. It deals with unpredictability following heartbreak. Each song will be released as a single, but the project will eventually be released as an EP. 

“Honestly, at the end of the day, I can choose if you say something that pisses me off,” Connors said. “I can choose how I react to it. I can choose to let it bother me or let it roll off. Just that kind of, ‘who are you to love me and break me?’”

Connors wants to empower people to have confidence and ownership over their emotions. She also wishes to promote her music and connect with people through her songs. 

“Who Are You?” has been a work in progress for years. COVID-19 created a few issues within its production, as access to the studio was difficult and mixes would take time to create. To Connors, the project has taken the perfect amount of time as it’s given her space to grow as an artist and creator. 

“Dangerous” is now available for pre-save and will be released on Oct. 21.