Marissa R. Moss is a freelance journalist based in Nashville. She contributes frequently to Rolling Stone, Billboard, NPR, and many more. Her first book is Her Country: How the Women of Country Music Become the Success Story They Were Never Supposed to Be. As Marissa puts it, the book is “the inside story of the last twenty years of country music through the lens of Maren Morris, Mickey Guyton, and Kacey Musgraves (and many other women from The Chicks to Rissi Palmer to Margo Price and Brandy Clark).”
How did you get to where you are today, professionally?
I was, not unlike other folks who read this newsletter, obsessed with music and being a music journalist from a very young age—I collected Rolling Stone and Spin and got to know as many bylines as I did the names of the musicians I loved. I interned at the Village Voice, USA Today and Marie Claire in college and wrote for the school newspaper, but it was rough going trying to find a job in New York at the time, so I ended up in communications, eventually drifting to political communications. I enjoyed that work a lot—I worked with Maria Shriver on her Women’s Conference in California, on the campaign against Prop 8 and eventually for marriage equality with the American Foundation for Equal Rights and other progressive causes and non-profits.
At the same time, I started freelancing for pennies (or free). It was a weird life—at one point I did an interview with Yoko Ono in my car in the parking garage, then went back upstairs and worked my day job. It’s no surprise that much of my interests ended up existing in the middle, in where music and social justice intersect. I moved to Nashville at the beginning of 2012 and it was cheap enough that after a year or so, I could freelance full time (with plenty of unglamourous hustle work, I think a bio needs to be written here once per hour, to my financial advantage). I think I naively assumed I would leave college and suddenly be working my dream job, but of course it didn’t work out that way. Nor did I ever feel like I had a mentor to help along the way, so I try really hard to be that for folks coming up when I can.