31 10 / 2012

Happy Halloween everyone!

Before I begin my blog, I wanted to make a correction on one of my previous blogs. I was referencing my super Canadian fans, and I misspelled their last name. It’s not Farmington, it’s Falkingham. Darryle and Sue. A big shout out to them as they prepare for winter!

Wow! I can’t believe its October already! Before we know it it will be Christmas! For now I am enjoying this wonderful fall weather in Nashville. With the golden and red leaves falling, and the temperature in the low 70’s, it is so nice to go running or walk your dog in the park.

Speaking of dogs, I have a new family member! He is the cutest. His name is Bo and he is an all black Toy Maltipoo with a little white stripe across his belly. He is 16 weeks old, 4 pounds exactly (will be 6 to 7 full grown), and is a bundle of energy.

He is the perfect apartment dog, and even uses a litter box! He goes everywhere with me, and is shy in public, which is good because he is well behaved.

At home, it is a different story. He is a maniac about his toys and rawhide bones, and I even caught him chewing on the door frame! He is just a puppy, but he thinks he is human, and has outsmarted me many times!

It is so nice to have someone so happy to see me when I come home – did you know that Nashville is exactly 1,000 miles from Lubbock? I have new friends, but I do get homesick sometimes. When I go home at Thanksgiving, Bo is going with me on Southwest. His carrier will fit under the seat. I am a little nervous about introducing him to Dash (17 lb Maltipoo) and Patton (100 lb Chocolate lab). I think as long as he doesn’t steal Dash’s bones it will be ok.

Also new in my world is my new power flow Yoga Studio, Shakti Power Yoga

http://shaktiyoganashville.com/. It was started by twin sisters who used to teach at Hot Yoga Plus www.hotyogaplus.com, the Farina sisters, who are sweet, beautiful and in incredible shape. They had disappeared from that studio and I could not find out where they went, until a Yogi walked into my hair salon, Transformations, and told me that they had gone out on their own.

Like Transformations, the new studio is on Music Row, right across from my church, Belmont Church. It is a beautiful old building with wood floors, lots of windows with trees outside, and a fireplace in the Yoga room. The Farina sisters are tough, and their 90 minute class in a 98 degree room will kick your rear, but afterwards you feel so relaxed, like you just had a massage.

Speaking of Yoga, my wonderful yoga studio at home in Lubbock, The Yoga Stand, has been booming with customers, new teachers, and will soon be a certified “Baptiste Inspired” studio. The owner Haley Beavers is such an inspiration to me. She recently heard my new song “Peacefully” and wanted me to write a blog post on the site about the song and what inspired me to write it. Check it out at

www.theyogastand.com

The biggest news is all the new music I have been writing and recording! I can’t wait for you to hear it! I worked with my producer, the legendary Gary Morris, all summer. He is considered by many to be the best voice in the country, and he helped me so much with my singing and with getting into shape enough to have the stamina it takes to go into the studio.

I’ve also written with my friend Travis Bowlin, and have worked with Gary Malt, who is a talented writer. Mainly lately I have been writing with hit songwriter A.J. Masters, and we have been privileged to record in Michael McDonald’s country home studio in Franklin. It’s beautiful and just plain cool – I could spend hours in the “Grammy room”, just looking at all the awards and history in there.

Exploring new music and finding out who I really am as an artist has been an amazing journey.

As soon as my EP is released I will get these new songs up on my website, Itunes and C.D. Baby. Yep, I said it. EP! A lot of you have been asking me why I have been recording so much and that’s why! I will make a big announcement when it is released.

If you can’t wait for the E.P to come out and would like to hear something now I have four new songs on my website. They are under the music/videos tab. Since those songs were recorded, I have done five more, so stay tuned!

I have also been networking a ton! On Wednesday nights there is a big community of songwriters who meet at Dan McGuiness Pub. We sing and play our songs, and we are becoming family. If you live near Nashville, come out! So much talent there!

Last month I attended a Gala in Houston to benefit the T.J. Martel Foundation and M.D. Anderson. I am very passionate about this cause, because my Dad recently recovered from a Sarcoma, a very rare form of cancer. He has been cancer free almost three years, and I thank God every day for people like Laura Heatherly who devote their lives to raising money for research to find a cure. Cancer must be stopped!!!!!!!!!

Check out below pictures of recent performances, The T.J. Martel Foundation gala, Halloween pics of Bo, and pics in the studio.

Thank you everyone for your support and be looking at my show dates because I will be adding more soon!!

Xoxo

Mary

PS. Here are all of my websites so you can follow/keep up with me

Website: maryfletchermusic.com

Facebook-

http://www.facebook.com/mary.fletcher.583

Music Facebook page-

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mary-Fletcher/192396104115417?ref=hl

Twitter-

www.twitter.com/singerchick166

Yotube channel-

www.youtube.com/singerchick166

Tumblr-

http://singerchick166.tumblr.com/

05 9 / 2012

Hi everyone!

I hope you are all doing well! I have been as busy as a bee these last few weeks but I wanted to give you all an update on my insanity workout if any of you are interested doing it!

This week is my last week doing insanity and I have to tell you, It is not lying when it says its hard. The program comes with 10 DVDS 5 for the first month and 5 for the second month. It also includes a recovery week in between the 1st and second month so you can have a week off before you start the MAX intereval training. (Which didn’t really feel like a recovery week to me it was still pretty difficult) However I cannot tell you how much this program has changed me!

Shaun T the motivater in the DVDs is an incredible motivater and workout coach. You really feel like he is in your living room motivating you. I really like it because the people following Shaun T take breaks and get tired as well. Its the toughest workout program I have ever done in my life but I can see the changes in my body. My muscles are stronger, my waist is smaller and my legs are lean! It really does change your body if you push yourself hard with each workout. Not only that but it gives me confidence. With the new changes in my body and with everything else in my life I feel stronger and stand up straighter!

Once my last week is over I am going to do the second month of it one more time(Max interval training) just to shape my body a little more. I love this program even though I hate it while I do it its worth every second!!!

So thats my insanity review. I would purchase this workout program if you want something challenging,motivating and something will push you to the limit.

Meanwhile while tourturing myself with insanity (haha) I have been writing and recording songs with my good friend AJ Masters and Gary Malt. All of the songs are very unique and I am excited for everyone to hear them!! They will be on itunes in about 2 weeks so be on the lookout for all of them.

I have also been continuing working with my producer Gary Morris on vocal teqniques and confidence. Weve also been having fun trying different things like skat singing and breathing. I am going into the recording studio next week to record our 3 songs we have been working on. One of them we wrote and the other two were pitched to us.

I am so excited about these new things that are coming up and I cannot wait for you all to hear my new music!!!!

Everyone have a great Wednesday!

xoxo

13 7 / 2012

College Life (Freshman year)

South Plains College (SPC) is about 30 minutes from Lubbock. It has a top notch music program, and I had decided to go to school there and major in Commercial Music. I have been struggling with school ever since I was little.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t smart or anything, though sometimes I really felt that way. I had a severe disability in math, though. The numbers just jumbled together and did not make sense to me. Music theory was hard, too, and I just sang and played by ear.

So, my plan was to live at home and drive to SPC after I graduated from Monterey High School. But one night, right before Spring Break my senior year, I was driving home from playing at Larry’s BBQ in Levelland.

We had a little band that played on Wednesday nights. Now, don’t get me wrong, Larry’s is a charming little old timey place, BYOB, and the loyal customers loved music and tipped very well, especially when I sang Karen Carpenter, but I started having visions of me playing there the rest of my life!

So, when I got home that night, I went into the living room and told my parents that I was moving to Nashville! I said if I can go to college in Levelland, I can go in Nashville! At first, they were stunned. They just sat there and looked at me, and then at each other.

Finally they said, well, I guess we had better go up there Spring Break and start looking for colleges! So, we did!

Nashville has 17 colleges! My high school grades were pretty good, but I am not a good test taker, so my SAT scores, well, not so hot. So, that limited where I could go.

I wanted to go to Belmont, one of the best music schools in the nation, but just did not think I could get in, and when my parents visited it while I was in a writing session, they did not get a friendly feeling.

We also went out to Middle Tennessee University in Murfreesboro, about an hour from Nashville. They have a great reputation in music. It just did not seem right, either, and a girl had just been killed by her roommate in the dorm, and when my Mom heard about that, it was out.

We went to Lipscomb, which my Mom liked since she had gone to ACU, but they did not have a commercial music department, so that was out. Nothing seemed to be the right college for me.

Then, while I was writing again at the Marriott with A.J. one morning (that was the day we wrote “Still Gettin’ Over You, which I think will be a great hit someday), my parents remembered that Carolyn Lackey, a friend of theirs, knew Taylor McPhearson, who was from Lubbock and he went to a very small college called Trevecca Nazarene University. It was close to downtown Nashville, so they went to visit.

Well, they were overcome by the beautiful campus, and the big entrance and old stone buildings and huge trees. They visited the admissions building and found out that my grades were plenty good enough to get me in without having high SAT scores! In fact, they really, really wanted me because of my music skills!

The people and students were so loving and kind, and really had a heart for Christ. They took me back to go on a tour, and I knew in my heart that it was the place that I was supposed to be. I even picked out the dorm l liked the best, right by the cafeteria and the music building! Perfect!

More later on my Nashville adventures…….

10 7 / 2012

Hello blog readers I hope all of you have had a fantastic week!

This blog post will be about the first time I came to Nashville and tedhe reason why I moved

The first time my family and I visited Nashville was like a dream. It was the summer before my junior year at Monterey High School, right after my first album “Somewhere” came out.

My Mom works for Lone Star State Bank in Lubbock. They bought a bank in nearby Brownfield, and the President of that bank, Mike Richardson, was a singer who had once gone to Nashville to pursue his dreams.

Mike can sing Roy Orbison as sweet as could be. He had worked with Bob Heatherly, who had been a big executive at RCA and now owns Music City Records. When Mike listened to my CD, he mailed it to Bob, who called Mike and said that he loved it and that I should come to Nashville! So, my parents and I booked a flight on Southwest and flew up there one summer morning.

I remember my Mom was reading a book about Nashville on the plane and I was reading a Country Star magazine about Taylor Swift and Faith Hill. I just couldn’t believe we were going there. I wanted to impress everyone who Bob was going to have us meet, but I was just 16 and didn’t know what I was going to say to them.

We were staying at the Downtown Hilton, next to the Country Music Hall of Fame. We checked in, and I put on my country tank top, blue jeans and cowboy boots with the “diamonds” on them, and curled my hair. It was a hot muggy Nashville summer day, so the curls didn’t stay, but I tried. I wanted to look the part of a star, even though I wasn’t.

Bob had told us to visit the Hall of Fame and wait for further instructions. He said he would come get us in his “limo” later.

First, we ate at the Palm Room near the Hotel. It had the pics and autographs of so many legends that I just wanted to stay and read them all! Then we headed over to the Hall of Fame where they were having a Brenda Lee exhibit. We poured over every item.

When we went back to the hotel Bob came and picked us up in his big black car and took us to this little whole in the wall club called “The Basement”. LeeRoy Parnell was playing there along with some of his friends.

They were absolutely incredible, and LeeRoy’s guitar chords were out of this world. He came over and said he would help me with anything I needed in my music career! I found out that Texans in Nashville tend to support each other. Plus, having Bob introduce us didn’t hurt – it was obvious how respected he was in the Nashville community. It was a night I will never, ever forget.

The next day Bob had set up a lunch at the Tin Roof with some people in the music business. Some of the people at that lunch would later become friends and mentors, who are always there for me. I met Bob McGilpin, who invited me to his home studio and gave me vocal lessons, and who, along with his lovely wife Rochelle, now treat me like their own daughter. They are my “Nashville” parents.

A.J. Masters, a hit songwriter, sat next to me, and we started talking and found out we were influenced by the same types of music. It was later meant to be that we would become co-writers. He has taught me so much!

Tara Aaron, who would later become my entertainment attorney was there, and Butch Baker, who took us to Haripro for a real live song pitch!

Imagine my surprise when one of the songs they pitched to us was sung by the Cactus Cuties, from home, who had recorded the demo in L.A.! I whispered to my Mom, that’s the Cuties, and she said, shhh, no, it can’t be, but I said, I know all of their voices by heart!

I had grown up with them at the Cactus – they were the group in the next younger age group than the Cactus Kids that I was in - and sure enough, it was them!

Then we went to ASCAP, and I later registered with them. We went to hear many more songwriters perform before we went home.

One afternoon while we were there, we went up and down Broadway, where all the live music is played. We went into Legends, and there was a guy singing and playing guitar. He asked if I wanted to sing with him, and I did!

That is when I learned, always know your keys! I told him I could sing San Antonio Rose, and he harmonized with me, but it was too high because I didn’t know what key I normally sang it in! Most people did not expect me to have such a low voice at my age. Another lesson!

Also, at Legends we met the Farmingtons, a nice couple from Canada. They liked my singing, and we gave them a C.D. And what do you know, they are still some of my biggest and supportive fans! My music sells very well on iTunes in Canada, and I think it is because the Farmingtons have promoted my music. You never know who you will meet.

Bob was a wonderful tour guide, and everyone wanted to talk to us because we were with him.

On the flight home, I realized a few things for sure. If I were going to make it, I was going to have to start writing my own songs. And, that I was going to have to learn guitar to accompany myself. In Nashville, I couldn’t take cover tracts of songs and walk in and ask to sing!

So, the first thing I did was call Mike Carraway, a very talented guitar player who teaches at South Plains College and plays at the Cactus, to give me lessons. I took my brother’s old Fender acoustic guitar to Levelland each week for lessons.

Then, I started writing every song idea that popped into my head, and planned trips to Nashville to write with A.J. He even came to Lubbock a couple of times. Once I learned guitar I started writing songs on it.

After that we started going to Nashville a few times a year – to take vocal lessons from Bob McGilpin and Renee Grant Williams, and stage presence lessons from Linda Davis, and to write with A.J.. Every trip was very productive.

Stay tuned, my next entry will be how I came to decide to actually move to Nashville!

29 6 / 2012

Hey everyone!

Hope you all are having a fabulous week!

I’ve got lots of things going on. I’m working with the wonderful Gary Morris who has had many hits. He is a incredible producer and I am so blessed to get to work with him! He has been guiding me through different vocal techniques that are new to me.

But a big part of achieving all of these vocal techniques is good breathing. Good breathing consists of using a lot of different muscles in your body and not tensing up your throat, which is my worst bad habit.

If you look at music artists today most all of them have what I call “Sick bodies”. I used to think that they had these bodies because they had to look great on stage and for the public. But I have learned that it’s so much more than just looking good, although certainly that comes with it.

I have read many articles on musicians who say that if they weren’t in shape they would be unable to go on tour. It just takes too much stamina.

Taylor Swift said that she works out strictly to be healthy when she goes on tour and just in general. I recently read an article where Taylor swift talks about working out: http://news.softpedia.com/news/Singer-Taylor-Swift-Tells-Allure-of-Her-Workout-Plan-107679.shtml

In it, Taylor says “Basically, if I’m indulging too much and not exercising enough, I can feel that. I can feel a change before I see it. For me, working out is not so I can get skinny. It’s so that I can keep up my endurance so I’m not panting on stage. Heavy breathing is the worst when you’re in concert. You don’t want to see that if you’re going to see a show.”

That really opened my eyes. You have to have endurance in the studio, too. Of course everyone wants to look good for the public but could you really go on tour when you are overweight and not pant on stage? I don’t think so.

It’s almost like you need to be an elite athlete. When you are a big music artist your fans want to see a good show. They want to see heart and soul on stage and to give them that you need to be healthy mentally and physically.

Let’s get back to the breathing techniques used in the studio. Whenever I was working with Gary I noticed that it was harder for me to really do what he was asking because I had a soft belly. Those extra few pounds really make a difference when you are singing.

Now I am a normal weight and always have been. I did gain a few my freshman year of college due to stress. The problem is, I never lost the weight. I’m not underweight nor am I overweight. I’m simply average. This is totally fine for an average person.

I don’t want to be model thin. But I do want to eat healthier and get in better shape for the studio. Again my goal is to leave my heart on a sleeve on all of my records and live perfomances and to really do that I have to be in top shape.

Working out

Working out was never a problem for me. In about 9th grade in high school I got a membership at the gym and started working out daily. I really liked it because it was a good stress reliever. But, eventually, the treadmill got very boring.

My senior year of high school my Mom got me into “Hot Yoga”, which is a type of yoga done in a very hot room. My mom and I did this everyday together and we absolutely loved it. The type of hot yoga we did was called Baptiste Power Flow Yoga. It burns 600 calories an hour, and combines strength training with cardio.

We did this at The Yoga Stand in Lubbock, which is owned by the very strong and spiritually enlightened Haley Beavers. Baptiste Yoga was designed by Baron Baptiste, who was actually trained the Philadelphia Eagles how to do it! They had less injuries than any other NFL team, too, because if his training.

The first time I did it, I thought it was insane because you sweat BUCKETS and BUCKETS. It is about 95 degrees with extra humidity pumped into the room. That is to cleanse your body of toxins and so you can really get into deep stretches.

It is so challenging, and sometimes you wonder why you are there when you are dying to get out of Frog pose, but when you get out and go home and take a hot bath, you feel like you have had the best massage of your life.

More than getting me into shape, though, it grounded me. We set an intention for our practice before most classes, and have meditation. This helps me focus and clears my mind of distractions. Believe me, you don’t want to be distracted in headstand – you will fall on your neighbor (which might be ok if he is hot – lol)!

I have learned to set intentions in my life, too. A big lesson in Yoga is “do what you are doing” and live in the present. They constantly say BE HERE! The teachers ask, “What do you want and what are you willing to do to get there”? Great lessons!

When I moved to Nashville to go to school I was so worried that there would be no hot yoga studio. I was part of my heart and soul by that time.

But, to my surprise, there was a very cool hot yoga studio (HotYogaPlus) that offered many different classes, including Bikram and flow, about 10 minutes from my school. Guess who showed up there last week, just dropped in for a class – Jack Black! I was rehearsing and missed it! The studio is in an older building with tons of character and great windows.

I continued to do that all through my freshman year of college and I loved it! However, I was only doing half the work. I was working out, but still not eating right.

The Struggles with Food

My weight has constantly been up and down. Again I’ve never gotten to the point of being overweight, but I was sick of getting on and off diets all of the time, and I was sick of gaining and losing. Losing weight to get into a certain dress to perform on stage was never a problem, but then I would just gain it back.

True to the stereotype, I gain the Freshman Ten, uh, Fifteen, since I’ll be honest here. I thought my eating habits would get better. My problem at home was that I would eat carbs at night when I got hungry. So I figured that being in a dorm at night with no access to carbs would help me eat healthier. Boy was I wrong.

My Mom has always wanted me to be happy with my weight. We would always encourage each other at home to eat healthy and to push harder on our workouts. We were what I call teammates. We were honest with each other and helped each other out.

I thank her from the bottom of my heart for teaching me how to eat healthy. But going away to college was a big, stressful step to take. So without my mom there in college I could eat whatever I wanted without her being “honest” with me (sometimes too honest…..Mary, really, what’s with the muffintop?) and I developed horrible eating habits.

It was tough and I was not happy with myself. I still have not lost the Freshman Fifteen!

So, I got a personal trainer who weighs me every single week. We work on resistance training and weight lifting training with some cardio. I love, love this because I always want to work hard whenever I’m in front of my personal trainer. It helps when there is someone there to motivate you. I found out I was not eating nearly enough protein, so I am working on that and it helps not being as hungry.

I still do power flow hot yoga for the stress reliever and peacefulness it gives me, and I would do it more, but you always have to take a shower and wash your (already soaked with sweat) hair before you go anywhere after that and it does not always work out that I have time to do that with my long hair.

Next week I am going to start something I am very scared but excited to start. The workout training system called “Insanity” You may have seen this on a commercial. It’s supposed to be the hardest workout ever put out on video. I want to do this not only for my music but hopefully to get results for a lifetime change.

I want to take you guys along with me on this 60 day journey. So I will blog often about Insanity and if it has been helping me get into shape!

I hope you guys enjoyed this blog please check back soon for my blog on the first day of Insanity!!!

xoxo

Mary

 

10 6 / 2012

Hey everyone! I hope you all had a fabulous week!

I have a lot to tell you about Nashville but I wanted to share with you my experience at The CMA(Country Music Festival) 2012. It was an experience I will never forget!

I have never been to The CMA Fest but basically there are about 7 or 8 stages set up all around downtown Nashville.Different country artists play on these stages from about 9 in the morning until 6:00pm. There are also many “Fan fair” places set up. Fan fairs are places where artists sign autographs and take pictures with the fans. They close down all of the main streets for this and there are bout 20 thousand people that come. It is the most insane thing you will ever go to because there is so much going on all at once. But it sure is amazing.

This year was my first year attending CMA Fest. My best friend Tessa from Lubbock came down to enjoy it with me!! I was so excited for her to come because not only did we go to the CMA fest but I also got to show her all around Nashville. I showed her my favorite pizza place called “Pie in the sky” and of course I took her to the wonderful “PF Chang’s” and we also went to Centennial park, one of the most beautiful parks in Nashville and we fed the ducks in the lake. (Yes we still like to do that haha) We had the best time ever! With a few stresses of lost luggage and figuring out traffic situations we ended up taking cabs back and fourth from my apartment to the festival. On the first day Thursday June 7th we walked about 20 blocks from my yoga place because parking was so bad that the yoga place was the only thing i could think of to park and not get towed. So we walked 20 blocks from there to go see one of my favorite artists “Uncle Kracker” He was fantastic! After that Tessa and I were so drained that we took a cab back to the Yoga place and then drove to my apartment. Tessa and I both agreed to take cabs from then on. So we rested the rest of the day and then quickly got ready to go to LP Field to see the main country stars of the night. When we got there we were amazed at how big the stage was and we quickly got excited!! We stayed the whole night that night and saw country artists Miranda Lambert,Jason Aldean,Lady Antebellum,Kellie Pickler,Lauren Alaina,Zac brown band and Brad Paisly. It was so incredible! Tessa and I both agreed that Miranda Lambert was the best. She rocked that stage and was pitch perfect the whole time.She gave Tessa and I chills when she sang her new hit song “Over you”.

After the concert Tessa and I walked back to downtown Nashville to catch a cab. It was about 12:30am and we were both worn out from the very tiring but amazing day!

The next day we decided to avoid the daily festivities of The CMA Fest downtown because we were both so drained and to tired to handle the traffic. So we hung out by the pool and ate lunch at “PF. Chang’s” Then I called the Music city cab and we both headed down to LP Field for the second night. That night we saw artists Ronnie Milsap who rocked the stage,Brantley Gilbert,Jake Owen,The Band Perry,Blake Shelton,Carrie Underwood,Gwen Sebastian and Randy Houser. Tessa and I both agreed that Ronnie Milsap and Brantley Gilbert rocked it that night!

Tessa and I had so much fun and we were so blessed to go to such amazing shows!

I attached some pictures below for you guys to see

Take care everyone! And be looking out for a new blog soon about my Journey to Nashville and what I have learned!

Xo Mary

03 6 / 2012

Hey everyone!

Welcome to my new blog site where you will be reading all about my musical journeys in Nashville! This blog will be more then pictures and updates. I’ll be telling you stories of where I’m going, what I’m doing, the joy and stresses of getting there and the amazing opportunities given to me. I am so excited to share all of this with you guys and hope that these blogs may give you some inspiration to keep positive and to follow your dreams.

So, on this first blog post I’d like to give you a little background of how I started to sing and what made me continue on to fulfill my dreams. It wasn’t easy but it sure was worth it!

I was born and raised in Lubbock Texas. The first time I started singing was on my trampoline when I was 6 years old. I was on a gymnastics team at the time and I remember after school going to my gymnastics class and then coming home and immediately jumping on the trampoline to practice my routine.

I loved doing this because our backyard was huge and jumping and looking over the fence I could see cotton patches and just miles and miles of flat farmland.  I could just picture in my head a stadium with thousands of fans watching me. I would picture the lights, an amazing band behind me, and the audience singing along with me. It was a dream I knew I would never let go.

My mom heard me singing and jumping. At the time I was big into artists like The Dixie Chicks (Natalie Maines was from Lubbock and I grew up singing with her cousin Brian and Uncle Kenny), Leann Rimes and Shania Twain.

As my mom recalled I would always sing “Wide Open Spaces” because I could see for so far in the backyard that it just made sense to sing that song! I remember one evening I was walking back into the house after jumping for 2 hrs and my Mom asked me “Mary, do you want to sing?” And I just looked up at her and said “Mom, God gave me a gift and I have to use it.”

So, she took me to Texas Tech University’s music school and told the director there that I could sing. I was the shy one and didn’t like to talk to people so I let my Mom handle that. They told me I was too young for voice lessons and to bring me back when I was 14 after I had matured. The director, Gerald Dolter, did, however, put me in a musical, “Paint Your Wagon”.  From then on I have loved musicals more than anything.

Still, I refused to wait until I was 14 to really start voice lessons.  So, my Mom found out about Terri Caldwell. Terri gave voice lessons to students in Slaton,Texas at her house (about 30 min away from where I lived) and her husband Don Caldwell owned a historic theater called The Cactus Theater. It was a very popular theater that held Nostalgic shows and plays.

My Mom called up Terri and explained how I loved to sing and that I would sing for hours on end. So Terri agreed to audition me. Since I was 6 years old at the time I had no idea what to expect. I just knew that I had to sing in front of a lady and I thought to myself “Okay I can do that!”

So then came the time for my first audition. My mom drove and I sang as along to Shania Twain as usual. When we pulled up to Terri’s house I started to get nervous. But, when my Mom and I met Terri she was the sweetest lady I had ever met. She had a cozy house with a sound system set up in her living room. Of course at the time we had cassette tapes so she had a tape player.

My Mom left shortly because she thought Terri would get more out of me if she wasn’t there.  The first song I ever sang for her was “Hello, Mr. Heartache” by The Dixie Chicks.  I’m sure it was pretty twangy, with my West Texas accent.

After I had finished the song Terri said, “That was great! Now, let’s try it without The Dixie Chicks singing on the track.” I was shocked! I had never really sung in front of anyone before.

So, I absolutely refused to do it. It took her a long while to convince me to sing on a karaoke track but eventually I caved in and by the end of the lesson I felt so comfortable singing to Terri.

Terri and I just connected as singers and people. She just got me and I got her. (I ended up taking voice from her from that day until I graduated from Monterey High School last year.)

My mom came back to pick me up and Terri said that she wanted me to be in this group called “The Cactus Kids”. The group had about 19 kids who sang all around Lubbock and did shows at the Cactus Theater. It was such an honor to get asked to do that. So, of course I told my Mom I had to join and that’s when everything began and my singing career started.

I was very intimidated at first to join the group because I was the youngest and the most shy. I just wanted to sing but I did not want to talk. When I found out being in the Cactus Kids meant talking, dancing, and having good stage presence, along with makeup and costumes I was shocked!

My first gig as a Cactus Kid was for 100,000 people singing at the annual Fourth on Broadway Concert.  It is the largest free concert in the nation, and Don Caldwell puts together a class act, bringing in performers formerly from Lubbock, such as Mac Davis, Richie McDonald and David Gaschen.

The Cactus Kids were learning “Footloose” and “Back in the USA” for the big show, and the choreographer had designed some really cute, but, to me, very hard dance moves.  It was then I learned that as easy as singing on tune came to me, that is how hard dancing was!

I was seven years old, but knowing my right from my left was no small challenge for me.  The older kids were so patient (well, mostly), and in the end I just couldn’t get it, so they ended up buying us all big blue rings to wear on our right hands, and when they said go right, they would say ring hand for me, and I got it! 

I will never be a Paula Abdul, but I did slowly improve.  What the other kids probably didn’t know was all the tearful extra hours I spent at home and the choreographers house (thanks, Jana and Britney) trying to learn those dance steps!

In years to come I sometimes wondered if Terri just gave me solos to just keep me out of the dance line!  I would have given up on the dancing but Terri believed that I could do it and so I believed in myself. 

From then on I made new friends, had a new family and got the experience of performing for audiences of all kind. The Cactus even had a very, very talented professional band “The Lubbock Texas Rhythm machine” to back me up on solos. I was in musical heaven!

Eventually Terri’s husband Don heard me sing and wanted me to be on some of the adult Nostalgia shows at the Cactus Theater. I couldn’t believe it! I thought I had really made it big!

The first show he wanted me to sing on was a 50’s show and I had to learn a Brenda Lee song called “Speak To Me Pretty” which I loved. I was so nervous. I wanted so much to impress Don and let him know that this is what I wanted to do more than anything.

I felt the pressure build up inside me but it was a good kind of pressure. It was alot of pressure for an 8 year old, but I didn’t mind. After my first show Don went up to my Mom and told her that I had a voice and that he and Terri believed that I was going to go far. I did not really believe them at the time.

It took me a long while to really believe in myself but everyone I have ever come in contact with seemed to believe in me. It was easy for them to do so why couldn’t I? As I got older and got more and more confident in myself I realized that maybe I really can make it!

I could tell you every single minute of my music career - about all of my gigs, performances and all the hard work and long hours I went through to get where I am today. 

There were many things I didn’t have time for as a kid - I missed many parties, sporting events (unless I was singing the National Anthem), and really did not have a social life outside of performing.  But, I would not change it for the world.

I could not have done it without my family, friends, the Cactus Family and the Caldwells.  I especially could not have done it without God.   

Recently I have become more confident on stage, and learned to accompany myself on guitar and am not afraid to do what I love to do. All of these things are what lead to where I am today, MUSIC CITY! I still can’t believe it!

I hope you all continue to read my posts!

I will be updating very often. The next post will be about how I got to Nashville, the things that  I have learned so far about Music City, the people I have met and how I have grown since I have left Lubbock.

Thanks so much for reading, and thank you to all of my fans!

xo Mary

01 6 / 2012

01 6 / 2012