Brooke Buchanan is Oddly Ginger


Mary-Stella Mangina, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Brooke Buchanan, known professionally as Oddly Ginger, is another creative highflier in the Shoals. She is somewhat new to its vibrant cultural backdrop. Originally from Elberta, near Gulf Shores, she came to Florence to study at the University of North Alabama and was pulled in by its charming locals, many of whom are music enthusiasts.

Upon enrolling in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering as an entertainment business major, Buchanan brought fresh energy to UNA with her continual production of hazy dream pop music.

Rooted in neo-psychedelia, dream pop has typical elements such as atmospheric reverb and light melodies sung with sweeping sincerity. It is Buchanan’s genre of choice, even though her music is also tinged with sounds harkening back to traditional rhythm and blues jams.

Buchanan described dream pop as “a variation of mainstream pop.” She said, “Dream pop is more electronically nuanced. Sometimes, it’s high-energy, but usually, it’s pretty mellow and chill, not super heavy.”

This subgenre seems perfectly tailored to Buchanan’s easygoing energy. Like her mystery-shrouded but melodic music, she is at once approachable and enigmatic. Her appeal lies in the notion that one wants to get to know her better.

“I’m not really aiming to put out Top 40 hits,” Buchanan said. “For me, making music is fulfilling. It’s something I like doing, so it’s something I do. I’m not necessarily looking for fame. What I want is to make a living. I need enough to pay bills, put food on the table and travel every now and again. That’s all.”

Buchanan’s passion for singing was sparked at a young age. She began honing her skills as a keyboardist at age eight and has composed music ever since. Not until she came to Florence did she start viewing herself as a professional musician.

Despite the fact that she did not grow up in Florence, Buchanan has connected with people all over town. She works as a bartender at two of the city’s most frequented spots: The Carriage Wine and Market and North Wood Social. The former is a polished wine bar that regularly updates its lists, the latter a cozy, speakeasy-style restaurant and bar with signature cocktails.

About being a bartender, Buchanan said, “It has definitely helped me in that I find it easier to talk to the people in my life. After I play a show, for example, it’s not so difficult for me to go out and make connections with audience members.”

Working and hanging out at the Shoals area focal point that is downtown Florence, Buchanan has plenty of opportunities to exchange ideas with local artists. The coursework she did at UNA also opened up a lot of doors for her, music career-wise. During her time as a student, she interned at Florence Alabama Music Enterprises, or FAME Recording Studios, the Muscle Shoals facility that garnered international attention in the 20th century. In the 60’s and 70’s, recording artists at FAME generated some of Rock and Roll’s most well-known offshoots.

Commencing from the time when she got serious about recording personal music, Buchanan’s presence has turned ubiquitous. She is well-received by concert venues spanning Florence, Muscle Shoals and Sheffield, including the Mane Room and Singin’ River Brewery. She laments that she never had the chance to do a set at 116 E Mobile St., a famous live music site in Florence that closed roughly two years ago. This Friday, she is set to grace the stage at Lava Room, Mobile Street’s oft-praised bar, ramen shop and concert spot.

In July, Oddly Ginger performed at popular Sheffield music hall Dorm Eleven. She was joined by the Wanda Band and CONNR, both of whom the Flor-Ala has previously featured. Wanda Band frontwoman Wanda Wesolowski and CONNR’s Meagan Connors have much in common with Buchanan. All three women have feminocentric aesthetic inclinations, each of them a rising indie star in her early 20s. They all use art to explore overwhelming emotions, examining their mental health through an imaginative lens.

“Meagan was one of the first friends I made in the area who was also an artist,” Buchanan said of meeting the face of CONNR in Muscle Shoals. “She was the first co-writer I ever worked with.” 

The two wrote a song together shortly after getting to know each other. Following its completion, Buchanan performed the single at Florence singer-songwriter competition Sound of the Town. 

Buchanan and Wesolowski met a little over a year ago. 

“And I’m so glad I did. I feel lucky to know [Wesolowski and Connors] because they’ve inspired me in so many different ways. They work extremely hard and know exactly what it is that they’re going after.”

Feminine expression through song has long been a tradition in the American South. In an environment that often neglects to hear women’s voices, music ends up being the only means through which women can vocalize their innermost thoughts and concerns.