I think Alison Krauss is one of the most amazing singers ever. As a songwriter - this is gonna sound cheesy - I love Randy Newman. And my mom passed on a love of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. At one point I was so into the Indigo Girls, just like I was so into the Dixie Chicks, those female harmonies.
I think life gives you lemons, and the thing that I'm working on doing is not watering it down, not putting sugar in it. Just drink it straight. The more you can take life head on... it's gonna make you a better person, and then you have nothing left to be afraid of. And what an awesome way to live.