Clare Bowen left Australia behind to sing on ‘Nashville’
When Cate Blanchett tells you to go to America to find your fortune, you pack your bags and go. Or in the case of Clare Bowen, the singer with the ethereal yet powerful voice on ABC’s “Nashville,” you sell your vintage dress collection to buy a plane ticket.
Now, Bowen, 23, is starring in her first TV series and is working on her first solo CD with T Bone Burnett, the Grammy-winning producer, “Nashville” musical supervisor and husband of its creator, Callie Khouri. How the petite, classically trained singer found her way to Tennessee to play waitress Scarlett O’Connor is a dramatic story that began in 2010, backstage at opening night of the rock musical “Spring Awakening,” an Australian production supervised by Blanchett. After Bowen moved to LA, it didn’t take long — she didn’t even have to make a Lifetime movie — for the Khouri’s “Nashville” script to land in her lap.
“I was two hours late for the casting because of the rain. I called and said, ‘I think I have to cancel. I don’t want to keep them waiting.’ And they said, ‘They’re waiting for you.’ So I went. I looked like a drowned rat. I was soaking wet. I sang and [the casting director] said, ‘I gotta get my camera.’ ”
Told to come back the next morning and sing a country song, Bowen met Khouri and her co-executive producer R.J. Cutler. “I guess it could have been intimidating but they were really nice,” she says. “So we sat there and talked for an hour and a half, making friends. And they said, ‘We need to see you tonight at a recording studio.’ I was actually going out on for a test on another project. I was about to sign the waiver that says you can’t go out on anything else if you go out for this test. I was at the desk with the pen in my hand when the phone rang and my manager said, ‘Don’t you sign anything. You have to go the studio right now go.’ The next morning they told me I had a job. And my whole life changed.”