Sitting backstage at Farm Aid 30 prior to her early afternoon set, Holly Williams was truly reveling in the moment. “I am beyond excited to be here. There are just no words,” the singer/songwriter told Rolling Stone Country. “Farm Aid is something I’ve heard about my whole life and, as a performer, it’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing.”
For Williams, one of the day’s biggest highlights was getting to share the Farm Aid stage with so many musical heavyweights, especially the festival’s Board of Directors: “Willie [Nelson], Neil [Young], Dave [Matthews], and John [Mellencamp], all of the heroes are here, along with so many other amazing artists and friends of mine. . . We’re legitimate Monsanto-hating, organic-loving foodies. So everything about this day is perfect.”
In fact, while Williams is most often associated with the musical side of her celebrated family tree — her father and grandfather are country music legends Hank Williams, Jr. and Hank Williams, Sr., respectively — the philosophies of Farm Aid seem to fall more in line with her mother’s background. “I actually grew up with my mom’s side of the family, who were farmers and small town people from Mer Rouge, Louisiana. So from a young age, I was always taught about food preservation and supporting your local community.”
Williams has carried those values from her childhood into her adult years. She has a personal friendship with the family farmers who sell meat, cheese and eggs to her own family. “My big thing is, you’re supporting a family directly, there’s no corporate involvement and you’re preventing health bills 20 and 30 years down the line. So Farm Aid is just a huge extension of what we’re already involved in at home.”
While Farm Aid inspired warm thoughts of her mother’s homespun influences, Williams wasn’t opposed to also talking about her lionized musical lineage. When asked if she had seen the recent trailer for I Saw The Light, the upcoming Hank Williams, Sr. biopic starring English actor Tom Hiddleston, Williams one-upped the inquiry by divulging that she had actually seen the entire film the previous week. “I’m personally very happy with it,” she reports. “The film’s producer, Marc Abraham, is a friend and we talked with him throughout the entire process.”
Williams admits she was initially a bit skeptical about the casting choice of the London-born Hiddleston to play her Alabama-born grandfather. But after viewing the completed film, she was ready to sing a different tune. “Tom really put his whole heart and soul into it. He worked so hard to embody everything about Hank, all of the nuances and who Hank really was. Tom put all his passion into his performance,” she says.
Hiddleston wasn’t the only I Saw The Light thespian for whom Williams had high praise: “Elizabeth Olsen, who played Hank’s wife Audrey, was really amazing as well. I’m incredibly happy with the whole thing. I thought it was brilliant.”
Williams is now working on a follow-up to her stellar 2013 album, The Highway, with plans to start recording with famed producer Dave Cobb in February of next year. Cobb has enjoyed notable success producing Jason Isbell, Jamey Johnson, Shooter Jennings and Sturgill Simpson, among many others.