Mondays on Zelda & Scout are all about you! In a series we call “Just Folks,” we talk to Southerners who have found their way to New York about where they’re from, where they are now, and what home means to them. Tell us your story here!
This week we have Madeline Myers! This musical theater composer/lyricist always knew her passion would lead her to New York, but her heart still belongs to the sweet tea and puh-CAHN pie of Georgia.
New York, New York
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m a musical theater composer and lyricist. In addition to writing, I do a lot of musical direction, orchestrating, and musical preparation/copywork. Outside of work, I love seeing theater, reading, exercising, cooking, entertaining, volunteering, and exploring New York on foot (especially its parks)!
Time North of the Mason-Dixon line so far?
I’ve been in New York for just under a year, but I lived in Los Angeles for two years before that.
What brought you to New York?
I always knew that if I wanted to make writing for musical theater my life’s work, I needed to be in New York. Los Angeles was never the plan– I deferred grad school at NYU when I had the opportunity to work for a composer in LA– so it was only a matter of time before I made my way back to the city I had always imagined myself living in
What’s the most common reaction when people learn where you’re from? What’s something about life in the South that you have to explain to non-Southerners?
“But where’s your accent?!” is probably the most common thing I hear when people find out I’m from Georgia. I always respond that it comes out in full force as soon as I go home (or after a margarita or two). I think a lot of non-Southerners think Southern accents are these elegant, refined, lyrical drawls like Vivien Leigh in “Gone with the Wind,” but I think my accent is not nearly that pretty to listen to and is in fact a lot more “country!”
Describe life in NYC as people at home picture it. Describe life in NYC as it actually is.
I’m not really sure what people in my hometown imagine NYC to be like. My hometown has about a thousand people in it, so even much smaller cities like Atlanta or Nashville or Chattanooga feel much bigger by comparison.
Where do you consider home? Why?
Home is, for me and I’m sure for many others, where the heart is. Since my family is back in Atlanta/Trion, my heart is there with them. But since my passion for musical theater is in NYC, my heart is here, too!
Do you miss where you’re from? Do you see yourself going back?
I definitely get homesick, oh, about every hour on the hour. I’m a total baby, mostly because I miss my family so much! I would love to relocate to Atlanta or Nashville (where I went to school) one day if it were still possible to sustain a career in musical theater while living there. I’d also love to live in Atlanta or Nashville and work in New York. I don’t even know if that’s possible, but that would really be ideal!
Do you consider yourself a Southerner? Do you consider yourself a New Yorker? Why or why not?
I definitely consider myself a Southerner. I love the South (well, most of the things about it), and I love telling people I’m from a town of a thousand people in rural Georgia. I don’t think I’ve really lived in New York long enough to identify myself as a New Yorker, but I think I’ve already adapted to New York life and have picked up some New York habits. Sometimes I find myself brushing past someone on the sidewalk without saying “excuse me,” and then I worry that I’m losing my good Southern manners!
Which food/drink/song/book/movie/artwork/quotation/gif/etc. defines New York for you?
Pizza and Manhattans!
Which food/drink/song/book/movie/artwork/quotation/gif/etc. defines where you’re from?
Probably my grandmother’s pecan pie. It was legendary in my hometown and was published in the Chattooga County Historical Society Cookbook! (You can’t find that in the Union Square Barnes and Noble, that’s for sure.) [Also, the pronunciation of pecan is “puh-CAHN.” None of this pee-can business.]
I also love that in the South (or at least in Georgia), it doesn’t matter what you’re drinking– Sprite, Dr. Pepper, etc.– it’s all called a Coke. And when you see tea on a menu, it’s sweet tea. I don’t think I’d had a non-sweetened iced tea until after I graduated from high school!
Somewhat related, someone once told me that eating healthy in the South means you had a Diet Coke and not a Coke. How funny is that?
What is the best cure for homesickness?
Calling my mama! That never fails to make me feel better.