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Though Mica is relatively new to the country scene as an artist, the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville is a family reunion of sorts for her, since she’s performed with artists like Faith Hill and Martina McBride on the road for years. She has met most of the radio programmers in one capacity or another over the last decade and befriended many of them, so for her, CRS is really just a fun time to reminisce with some old friends.

“I’ve been so lucky with the radio tour I’ve been out on for my label Show Dog Records. I walk in the lobby at CRS, and I know so many people already just from all the touring I’ve done,” explains Mica. “For years before I got my deal, a lot of the radio guys would bring their contest winners backstage and have them there from 4 ‘til the show, and take them to catering, and let them see how things are backstage. And I’ve always opened up my dressing room to them because a lot of times they don’t have anywhere to go. I’d say ‘Hey, come and have a glass of wine and say hi while I’m getting ready’…a lot of time I’ve been the only girl, so I had a lot of room, and I’ve gotten to know a lot of the radio guys and girls through that.”

Though she spent the past few years playing with other artists and honing her chops, it seems Mica has been ready for her moment in the sun practically since she was a little girl. Growing up in Locust Grove, OK, she started piano lessons at five, joined the school band and choir, and by 12 was already writing her own songs. At 15, she was performing in an Arkansas amusement park show, and by graduation, she had received music scholarship offers from several universities. But she knew she needed an education of a different kind, and she did what any eager musician would do – she hit the road in a 27-foot Holiday Rambler trailer and gypsied for three years, playing restaurants, clubs, and anywhere people would have her.

“I think that college is really good for most people, but for me I already knew what I wanted to do,” she explains. “I feel like I've accomplished a lot, too, because for the last 15 years of my life, more or less, I've been able to make my living and paying my bills playing music. It took me years to get there, but I did it.”

At 19, she expanded her world even more when she took a gig on a cruise ship and began touring the world, seeing Japan, China, and Indonesia before moving back home. She knew Nashville was where she needed to be, though, so she hit Music City and began singing demos and building a reputation among the producers in town for demo work. She also took a gig bartending, waitressing, and singing at the famed BullPen Lounge during the 90’s, (which is where she would meet her future employer and friend, Toby Keith). After a decade of doing that, Mica finally allowed herself to take a road gig when Faith Hill tapped her to come out on the road. Gigs with Martina McBride, Billy Bob Thornton, and others followed, and as a support artist, she has appeared on every major TV and awards show, including the Grammys, the CMA’s, David Letterman, Jay Leno, and even the Super Bowl. No doubt the experience proved invaluable to the aspiring young singer. 

“It would be hard at this point to throw me off course. I've stood behind a lot of people and watched a lot of people make mistakes and do a lot of things right. So I feel like I've learned a ton. The Grammys was very cool... that was pretty scary. I did that with Faith. Looking out seeing all the people you grew up listening to, you know, Prince sitting in the audience, and Tina Turner, and it's like ‘Oh my God, they're looking at me,’ and even though I was standing in the background, it was still breathtaking to be able to look out and be part of that. I was successful at that point…being an artist is just another level for me.”

Though she lost track of her fellow Oklahoman and buddy Toby Keith when she hit the road, the two were fated to meet again on – of all places – Willie Nelson’s bus! Mica had been singing backup for Billy Bob Thornton, and he brought her onto Willie’s bus to get her CD signed by Willie and meet him, when Toby walked on board. “When he walked onto Willie's bus it had probably been 4 or 5 years since I had seen him, and I was dressed up like a gothic chick because I was singing with Billy Bob. I had real black eyeliner on and black curly hair and a KISS T-shirt. I adore Willie Nelson, and think he is one of the best songwriters and artists on the face of the earth. So I see Toby walk on, and I’m excited, and I get up and say, ‘Oh, hi, how are you doing?’ And he says ‘Hi…I’m Toby Keith.’ And I said ‘It’s Mica,’ and he laughingly said, ‘What happened to you?!!’ And he said he was putting together some singers for his show and that he would give me a call about it, and I didn’t think he would really call, but he did. And I’ve been with him ever since!”

The Toby connection proved fruitful in more ways than one, since he opened his own label and promptly gave Mica a deal. The two sing together on her first single, “Things A Mama Don’t Know,” which radio is embracing wholeheartedly. She is still in the throes of making her debut CD, which she hopes America will like and knows will reflect the tapestry of lessons life has granted her – a tapestry of hope, persistence, and joy. And while she is insanely busy touring with Toby, visiting radio, and making her first album, she still finds time to steal away to her small refuge and calm in the midst of the storm – her 25-acre family farm in Oklahoma.

“My favorite thing to do there is to find peace. When I get there, I shut that gate at the bottom of the hill, and it is a refuge…you can’t see a house – there’s nothing around for miles around. I could stay there forever – a beautiful creek runs through it. It’s a great place to write, and it will always be my home, no matter where my career takes me.” / Issue 83 - September 2018
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