Share on Tumblr

When I arrived at Rachel Kice’s Nashville loft late one afternoon, she was excited. “I’m in the ‘Star’ tabloid on the ‘Worst Look of the Week” page,” she told me. I looked at the small picture and there she was, on the red carpet during the CMT Music Awards, wearing a black afro, bustier, puffy skirt covered in paint and black net stockings under knee-high high-heeled red and blue trimmed boots. Looking me straight in the eye, she declared, “That’s as good a sign as having a painting stolen.” She concluded, quite happily, “I’m 28 years old and I’ve had a painting stolen and I’ve been in a tabloid as a painter!"

Welcome to the mind of Rachel Kice, best known as the “Action Painter,” as she calls herself, who completes an entire painting during the musical performances of hit country music duo “Big & Rich”, and their assemblage of madcap characters. This includes “Red Neck Woman” Gretchen Wilson, a dwarf named Two-foot Fred and his brother, and a black rapper called Cowboy Troy, and others known collectively as the “Muzik Mafia.” If you’ve never seen it, “Muzik Mafia” can be best described as a kind of multi-discipline, free-wheeling, and democratic “performance art” piece, that may at any given time feature up to 20 or 30 people, enough to fill up an entire stage, with each performer getting their moment in the limelight. And in case you haven’t been paying attention out there, “Muzik Mafia” is big.

You might call “Muzik Mafia” Kice’s big break, but actually she’s been working at her art, and not just painting but singing, songwriting, piano playing, writing, modeling, acting (this girl is talented) for pretty much her entire life. In fact, her goal has always been to combine all her creative pursuits into one big something, somehow. “I’ve never had a really clear idea if I want to be this or that, this or that,” she says. “I’ve always just really enjoyed, first of all the idea of acting, and when I started doing that, then I wanted to sing. And I’ve always painted during all of it so they’ve always been things I wanted to do. And then one day I thought if I make music, then I can combine everything I love doing at the same time.”

After a brief visit, Kice decided to move to Nashville from her native Kansas in 2001, accepting a non-paying internship at Warner-Chappell Music, a powerful music publishing company. “I came to Nashville with my daughter and I had an internship at Warner-Chapell for free-so I cashed in two life insurance policies my mother had and I got $7000 so I could live.

It was while she was working at Warner-Chapell that her first big break really came, although at the time, she didn’t know it. “It was then that I met John Rich (from the country duo Big & Rich) and at the Christmas party he introduced me to Big Kenny and Big Kenny and I became really good friends-I call him ‘Muse #1’ but he and John are kind of interchangeable for the ‘muse #1’ role.They’re like brothers to me at this point in my life, muses and guides and everything else. They’re really just wonderful,” she explains.

After a while, “They got to know my art. It started when I made Kenny come over because I wanted to play some songs for him. I played him my traumatic piano songs and he said, ‘I don’t know what you should do with this, but there’s something there, so just keep doing it.’ But he really liked my paintings and the first time he was at my house he bought one for $100. I was going to paint over it, so he gave me $100 and grabbed it and just walked out the door.”

Impressed, Kenny and John started telling a lot of people about Kice’s art, making a lot of people call her. So to further her growing reputation, she started putting paintings in a lot of galleries and coffee shops. “I worked really hard at that,” she says.

Right about the time that John and Kenny got their record deal with Warner Brothers, the duo saw Rachel perform her unique brand of performance art for the first time, “and they started taking me to showcases with them so that I could do more of the performance painting,” she explains. “And as they grew and Gretchen (Wilson) grew and Muzik Mafia started becoming more and more visible, that’s when we started to actually set up a stage and bringing what I had been doing with Max (Max Abrams, her performance partner in an earlier group, “Circus Maximus) to their stage.” / Issue 48 - September 7133
Turnpage Blk

Home | Links | Advertise With Us | Who We Are | Message From The Editor | Privacy & Policy

Connect with Dish Magazine:
Find us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter


Copyright (c) 2013, Smash Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Smash Media Group, Inc. is prohibited.
Use of Dishmag and Dish Magazine are subject to certain Terms and Conditions.
Please read the Dishmag and Dish Magazine Privacy Statement. We care about you!