For Americana singer-songwriter Nora Jane Struthers, 2017 was a year of perseverance, which saw the release of her new album Champion in October alongside a series of personal struggles. 

“Over the past year, I’ve faced down some major challenges: career stuff, health stuff, and my dining-room ceiling literally collapsing,” she told USA TODAY via email. “Music has the power to help me get back up off the mat and keep on punchin’.”

To celebrate the new year, Struthers shared a “Pick Yourself Up” playlist with USA TODAY, featuring songs that double as rallying cries of strength.

“The next time you get thrown down,” she continued, “I hope these songs lift you as they have me.”

Made Up Mind, Tedeschi Trucks Band

My drummer, Drew Lawhorn, and I have spent many long drives playing air guitar and singing along to this record. Our bandmates love it. (No, they don’t.)

I Won’t Back Down, Tom Petty

Tom Petty is such a badass; He believed in his ability to make his dreams come true, and he stood up to the people who tried to screw him over.

Records, Lilly Hiatt

Forget about social norms and expectations, Lilly Hiatt totally owns where she’s living in this song. 

Hard Times, Gillian Welch

I love the imagery, and the optimism and persistence in the face of adversity, Gillian Welch gives us in this song.

Hope the High Road, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

Feeling angry about politics? Yeah. So am I, and so is Jason Isbell. This reminds me: Do as Michelle Obama would, “When they go low, we go high.”

Even If It Breaks Your Heart, Will Hoge

Chasing a dream means getting up every day and facing the possibility of failure. A broken heart is hard to live with; a numb heart kills you.

Rock Me (Divine Mother), Ana Egge

Ana Anna Egge’s masterpiece is part adult lullaby, part secular hymn.  I feel as though the frayed pieces of myself are gently soothed as I listen.

Parachute, Chris Stapleton

I once drove through the entire state of Kansas, west to east, with this song on repeat.  

It’s a Great Day to Be Alive, Darrell Scott

Scott is one of my favorite songwriters; he is a master of conveying universal truths.

Tightrope feat. Big Boi, Janelle Monae

Janelle Monae’s Tightrope is an anthem of endurance and self-belief – obstacles on every side, and she’s keeping her balance


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