31 10 / 2012
05 9 / 2012
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!
13 7 / 2012
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
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 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!!!
03 6 / 2012
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!