Hunter Park, the creative force behind the Charleston-based band She Returns From War, blends soulful Americana with a deeply personal narrative. Founded with her friend Jesse Ledford, the band emerged from college house shows and dive bars, and has evolved into a local staple known for its evocative performances.

As Hunter navigates the country music scene, she emphasizes authenticity and resilience in her art, aiming to create a sonic space for healing and self-expression. Her style, both in music and fashion, is a testament to her collaborative spirit, often working with local designers to craft unique stage outfits. Hunter's journey is marked by significant challenges and triumphs, and she continues to inspire with her dedication to inclusivity and the transformative power of music.

Hunter Park

Can you share the meaning behind the name “She Returns from War”? What do you want people to know about your band?

She Returns From War was started by myself and my friend Jesse Ledford who is an incredible songwriter in her own right. Right out of college, the band existed mainly playing house shows and appearances at local dives, and we had the most fun.

The name is something I came across looking for inspiration in a book of baby names of all things. It’s a translation, and it resonated so deeply with me, as someone who wanted to learn how to lend strength to their suffering. A woman who, despite her hand dealt, overcame. What I want most from this band is to create a sonic space where all people can feel and learn and continue, always moving forward in greater understanding of self, and to preach self expression as a way to connect back to the heart, forgiveness, elevation, and elegance. 

What is a “day in the life” like for you on show days? We want all the deets...any pre-show rituals?

I’m a chaos baby, so both past and present crew members can attest to the incredible lack of organization and roller coaster ride that is a show day. That being said, everyone usually has a great time and looks good as hell while doing it. I’m sure I’ll get better at it one day, but as far as meditative practice, or making time to take a breath, I honestly haven’t quite mastered it yet. I will say, 15 minutes before I hit the first note, if I have a few moments to adjust my spanx and make sure my show clothes look like every sequin is in place I’ll do it. I’m Blair Waldorf coded as much as I wanna be Serena… but we all know who wore the pants in that fam.

Any cool Spotify playlists you’ve found that energize or inspire you that we should know about?

Anything Zac Crocker - his Spotify playlist skills are out of this world. ANYTHING Western AF posts, you can discover your soul through their intensive research on Americana, and they support artists like family! 

Hunter Park

What challenges have you faced in the journey of building She Returns from War, and what valuable lessons have you learned along the way? Are there any organizations that hold importance to you?

Being a transgender woman in country music is not easy. I've had to learn some realities about this business and being authentically myself. People don’t care as often as you think of their pocket profits from you bearing your soul. I do believe EVERYONE has a right to be at the table of country music and you never have to explain your angle as long as your art remains true.

The Hello in There Foundation is an initiative established by the family of John Prine, to honor his memory and continue the love, kindness and generosity he shared with the world. The work of the foundation is inspired and guided by John’s simple song title, Hello In There. Their mission aims to identify and collaborate with individuals and communities to offer support for people who are marginalized, discriminated against or, for any reason, are otherwise forgotten.

How does your personal style influence your stage outfits? If you could only wear one stage outfit forever...what would it be?

Working with artists in design lights my fire! My friend Brad from Worthwhile dressed me for Highwater and it was the perfect mood. My past roommate and bestie Cara Fischer, known as House of CARA, has made several of my dresses on my kitchen floor. Rachel Kate of Ranger Stitch has made me gown after gown with insane time crunches with a plate FULL and somehow pulls out these insanely perfect dresses.

I’ll never repeat an outfit but if I had to wear something for the rest of my life it would be the most rhinestone’d western suit (skirt not pants). It hasn’t been made yet but oh I can dream. 

Can you share any exciting future plans or performances for She Returns from War that your community has to look forward to?

I’ve just signed with Madison House in Nashville for booking, and I’m excited to be getting out there this year! Americana Fest, Winnipeg Folk Festival, and some other exciting dates are on the horizon. Festival season is wild but it’s truly magical. 

Who is an artist or band that has inspired you? 

Last year I was fortunate enough to have gone on tour with SG GOODMAN, and Erin Rae… back to back. Seeing, singing, and being around these women and getting to learn from them was one of the greatest inspirations of my life. To see their crowds wrapped up in what they do is nothing short of real magic.


Favorite quote?

Let the moment go

Don't forget it for a moment, though

Just remembering you've had an "and"

When you're back to "or"

Makes the "or" mean more

Than it did before

-The Baker’s Wife 

Sondheim, Into the Woods

What’s on your nightstand? My jewelry in an ashtray that my friend and local designer Miller Heiman gifted me for Christmas, Bag Balm, Beauty of Joseon revive serum, a Ranger Station candle, and The explicit gospel by Matt Chandler 

Worth the splurge? High Class Hillbilly vintage, Chez Nous, Worthwhile anything, Amouage Perfumes, tipping your bartender 75 %

What is in your purse? Love letters, concealer, that one Bobby pin that doesn’t even work because of that one night you convinced yourself you were a locksmith but now you just literally never throw it away. Kate Somerville spf setting spray. Patricia Nash clutch for downsizing/ going out.

Favorite book? The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera

Favorite podcast? Honestly it’s Call Her Daddy don’t at me…

Go-to cocktail or mocktail? As of late I’m in my Paloma phase but I’ll never turn down a Gibson. 

Go-to concert venue in Charleston? Royal American and Pour House

Most worn shoes? Heritage Cowboy Boots in Cactus Pee Wee

Must-have makeup product? Charlotte Tilbury Big Lip Plumpgasm 

What’s your next tattoo? A goose in a martini glass wearing the olive as a hat.

Dream Duet Partner? Emmy Lou Harris 

Favorite album to play while hanging out with friends for brunch, dinner party, or a good ol’ fashioned Charleston porch party...? If it’s a porch party it’ll always be Futurebirds discography.