The Georgia-grown singer-songwriter Lera Lynn found herself a long way from home, when she first appeared last month as a beaten-down California bar singer in the second season premiere of HBO's "True Detective."
She was thousands of miles from both Nashville, Tenn., where she moved in 2012, and Athens, Ga., where she had found her voice as a local performer.
It was a journey several months in the making ... that almost didn't happen.
Lynn's manager last fall had put her in touch with T Bone Burnett, the acclaimed producer and "True Detective" music supervisor, who thought he might want to use some of Lynn's music in the new season.
"I was terribly nervous, as one is when meeting a legendary producer, and we were actually in the same restaurant, but we had missed each other. We were kind of like waiting for half an hour on each other, but we did finally find each other," she said, adding, "I was very relieved to see he was drinking a martini."
Lynn — a Texas native, raised in Georgia, who spent several years performing in Athens — then ordered a glass of wine, and it was at that point that she realized they could click.
Things moved quickkly: Lynn first met Burnett in Nashville in August, and in October they began to write in Los Angeles, producing at least three songs for the series, jumping off from lines or phrases supplied by series creator Nic Pizzolatto.
Then Burnett suggested putting Lynn on camera to sing the music herself. She's appeared in two episodes so far.
"I think it's liberating to write from an identity that is not your own, which is what we were doing," Lynn said. "T Bone and I and [co-writer] Rosanne Cash were cultivating a certain tone, a certain character, that would match the show."
Mission accomplished: One of Lynn's songs served as the soundtrack for the second season's first trailer, sending the corner of the Internet that never stops being obsessed with "True Detective" into a tailspin of questions. Who was this musician and what did her music mean and when would they hear more of it?
About most of those things, Lynn is still silent.
"I had to keep my mouth glued together" after agreeing to work on the series, she said (a secrecy which temporarily cracked), and declined to say if she or her songs would appear in future episodes.
What she did say was that it was "amazing" to watch the cast, including Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn, at work in the same set where she was singing. Farrell even approached her to compliment the music.
"That made me feel really good," she said, "obviously."
And yes, Lynn said, she was made up to look like a junkie on camera, complete with track marks, inflamed cuticles, yellow teeth and oily hair. But she gave a different performance than she would on stage, she said: performing only for herself.
Already though her TV appearances have had an effect on her live audiences. Lynn said she's "definitely noticed a difference," in terms of crowd size and interaction, at recent shows in Chicago and Indianapolis.
She has two upcoming Georgia shows, too: at Eddie's Attic in Decatur, on July 24, and in Macon, at Bragg Jam's 2015 Concert Crawl, on July 25.
A career several years and many miles in — Lynn released her last album, the acclaimed "The Avenues," in 2014 — is basking in its biggest burst of buzz.
"Playing music is my favorite thing to do in the world," she said. "I hope that doing this show will enable me to do that for as long as I can."
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