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Nation & World

What Nashville Singer-Songwriter Kalie Shorr Read While Recovering From COVID-19

Kalie Shorr
Kalie Shorr

Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Who: Kalie Shorr

Where:Nashville, Tenn.

Recommendation:Reading books that inspire you


On July 11, 1994, I was delivered by my mother's three best friends. It's the best reason I have for my two most conspicuous traits: my surplus of feminine energy and my proclivity to be surrounded by as many people as there are names on the list at Jay Gatsby's birthday party. Needless to say, quarantine has been an unprecedented time.

I had been unhappily self isolating for a week and a half (except for two or three visits to the grocery store for food and prescriptions) when I started showing symptoms. My fever skyrocketed, my whole body was in pain and I lost my sense of taste and smell. I immediately went on full lockdown, and soon enough, I tested positive for COVID-19. That week was tough, and although my symptoms were mild in comparison, it's very scary to have something so uncharted swimming around in your body. It forced me to slow down in a way that I haven't since my love for music transitioned to a career five years ago. It was a massive challenge.

When I'm not traveling the country in a van with my bandmates, I'm usually in a writing room on Music Row, mining for melodies to match the current events of my life. The ideas come to me at unpredictable times, whether it's a conversation with an Uber driver or an unexpected run-in with an ex at a Midtown dive bar. Writing and living manically is comfortable for me, and I've become accustomed to the chaos. So, where am I supposed to get inspiration when I'm forced to stand still?

I started using my free time to read at a luxurious rate. There's many authors that I love — Kurt Vonnegut and Jean Baudrillard have recently gotten real estate on my nightstand. I love their work, but there's something responsible about it. Tom Robbins' Jitterbug Perfume has become a muse for me. It's as untamed and wild as an Alanis Morissette deep cut. It's philosophical, smart and provocative, but never at the expense of its sense of humor. At every turn, lyrics seem to jump off the pages. ("His eyes, bright as torches in an ice cave, were so blue they seemed on some days to bleed into the sky" is a choice example.) It has challenged me to up my game and take my wordsmith-ing to new levels. After a brief break, I'm so thankful to have the fire to write songs again.

I don't know how long this will last, or who I will be after this. The irony of being an extrovert is that we are inherently more comfortable in a room full of strangers than we are in one alone with ourselves. I'm working on being okay with solitude and silence. I thought the lack of constant stimulation would take a toll on my creativity, but Robbins has proved me wrong. Art can be born out of itself, just like it can be born out of dreaming of the day that art can get back to imitating life.


Kalie Shorr's debut album, Open Book , came out last year.

  • Read more from the Our Daily Breather series.
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