11 Questions to a Nashville Musician: Ellen Starski

Ellen StarskiIn May 2018, Ellen Starski released her debut record, “The Days When Peonies Prayed for the Ants.” The album’s rather mysterious title is a nod to the symbiotic relationship between peony flowers and ants, who rely on one another for growth.

Ellen’s record is a mood-setter with a sophisticated style beyond simple categorization. Her gentle voice glides alongside a soft and subtle musical accompaniment that draws you in to her sensitive autobiographical lyrics. Listening to this record, you will yourself relaxing and reflecting. Watch this gorgeous video for “Missing You from the new record.

Thanks go out to Ellen for taking the time for the 11 Questions. She is now gearing up to hit the road with some Midwestern shows this spring, and hopefully we will see a hometown show sometime soon.


Where are you from originally, when did you move to Nashville and why?

Hello! I’m originally from Reynoldsville, PA, and moved to Nashville in 2008 because I fell in love with my now husband, Shawn Starski. His musical career brought him to Nashville, and my heart followed.

What are the first and the last records you bought, and where did you buy them? Were they CD, vinyl or digital?

The first CD I ever bought was So Tonight That I Might See by Mazzy Starr, and the last CD I bought was a digital download of Ted Drozdowski’s Coyote Motel.

First and last live concerts that you’ve seen?

My husband and I lucked into some tickets via my parents to catch Simple Minds at the Ryman a couple months ago. Great show, and we truly appreciated the musicianship the lineup offered. As for my first concert, I believe my entire family hopped into our big blue van and headed to Star Lake Amphitheater outside of Pittsburgh, PA to see Fleetwood Mac. This show changed my life drastically. As a young child in an open amphitheater, feeling that energy, I knew music would be the path I followed.

Whose star should be added to the Music City Walk of Fame?

I think Bob Dylan would be an obvious choice. Though I highly doubt he would partake in the celebration.

Where do you go in Nashville for coffee and pizza?

I don’t drink coffee regularly, but when I used to, Bongo Java was my go-to. Nowadays, if I’m headed out for a cup of tea, High Garden in East Nashville is on the top of my list. Our favorite family pizza shop is Angelo’s in Antioch. The vibe is perfectly unpretentious, and the pies are delicious.

What’s your favorite record to ever come out of Nashville?

This is a difficult question because of all the great albums that hail from this city. So, being put on the spot I’d have to choose Roy Orbison’s album For the Lonely.

Where’s the best place to eat late night after a show?

I honestly have no idea. Since becoming a mother, my late nights are spent mostly at home with a glass of wine or a martini, and some pantry snacks.

The Bluebird calls and asks you to host an “In the Round.” Pick three local songwriters to join you.

I love the Bluebird and can’t wait to sing there again. If I was so fortunate to choose songwriters for a round, it would be Anne McCue, Matthew Perryman Jones, and Mary Bragg. Hope this happens soon.

What are your favorite music venues to play in town?

3rd and Lindsley is by far my favorite venue in town, and I hope we always have them around. About five years ago, I worked for them momentarily, and while I was there, I discovered I was expecting our child. So, naturally, this room holds a special place in my heart, and the musical experiences I’ve enjoyed there have been top-notch.

Name a musician who you’d like to see move here?

Bjork is my choice for this question. I can only imagine what her inspiration would bring to this city!

Finally, what’s in your musical future?

Right now, we have a little tour booked for the spring, and I’ve been writing in preparation for my new album. Looks like we’re planning to head into the studio in late May with Lucas Morton steering the ship as producer. I’m truly looking forward to working with him and feel he understands exactly what my vision for the songs are. More on that soon!

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