By Breana Pitts

BOSTON (CBS) – Lori McKenna lives in Stoughton, but she’s got Nashville in her blood. She’s written hundreds of songs, including Grammy winners “Humble and Kind” performed by Tim McGraw and Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush.”

This year, she’s nominated for Best Country Song for writing “Crowded Table”, along with several members of the Highwomen who performed the song. It’s a sweet song about acceptance and community and for McKenna, the five kids who crowd her own table. “Half of them are out of the house. I still crave that crowded table. I still want them to come back,” she said.

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McKenna is a self-described homebody. She married an elementary school classmate and even though she does keep a place in Nashville, Stoughton is still home. “I just can’t leave Stoughton. They can’t get rid of me,” she said laughing.

Lori McKenna performs onstage during the 2019 Americana Honors & Awards at Ryman Auditorium on September 11, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Americana Music Association)

Her kids have offered lots of song-writing inspiration, including “Humble and Kind.” “I really just sat there for the entire day and made a list. How many times do you say, ‘hold the door, say please, say thank you,'” she said quoting the song.

“Talk about humble and kind, she’s been that since day one,” said Matt Smith, managing director at Club Passim. McKenna credits the tiny 110-seat venue in Harvard Square for nurturing her talent and her career. She has played hundreds of shows there since the 1990’s and Smith says he’s run the sound board for all of them. “We recognized her talent right from the get-go,” he said.

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The pandemic has been challenging for the music industry, but Passim, a non-profit that also teaches music, has managed to survive by programming live streaming shows. McKenna even did an album release from Passim for ‘The Balladeer’ back in July.

“I’m writing more now than I ever have,” McKenna told us via Zoom, with her youngest son logged in for a high school class in the next room. She says while meeting over the computer is not ideal, it has made collaboration a lot easier. “I can just click on my computer and write with someone in LA or the UK.”

McKenna expects the live music scene to be slow returning, but worth the wait. “Those shows, when they come back, are going to be really special, they are going to be really emotional,” she said.

When we asked where she will play first she told us she’d probably head to Nashville, but had a very quick answer for her second stop. “I’m going to Passim, if they’ll have me,” she said.

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They will. We checked with the guy who books the bands.

Breana Pitts