Mickie James is mostly known for her accolades in the ring, but not many know that she is an award-winning country singer. Last year James was honored at the 2017 Native American Music Awards by becoming one of the newest members of the Native American Music Awards Hall of Fame. She also took home the song of the year for her single ‘Shooting Blanks.’
James made her music industry debut back in 2010 releasing her debut album ’Strangers & Angels.’ Working with 20-time BMI award winner Kara DioGuardi, 20-time ASCAP winner Ben Hayslip, and four-time Grammy Winner Josh Kear. She would follow up ’Strangers & Angels’ by releasing her sophomore album ‘Somebody’s Gonna Pay’ featuring Jamie Hartford, Jamie Lee Thurston, Craig Wiseman, Michael Higgins, and Larry Haack.
The songstress recently released a crossover single called ‘Left, Right, Left’ featuring the Ying Yang Twins. The Ying Yang Twins are huge wrestling fans, and James is a fan of their music making this a perfect match. Last month all three individuals were interviewed by ring announcer Mike Rome on the WWE Network as part of the promotional process for the single.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Mickie about what inspires her as an artist. She also discusses how the collaboration with the Ying Yang Twins came about and how motherhood has changed her creative process as an artist.
You released your debut album ‘Strangers & Angels’ back in 2010. As an artist, what has changed in your creation process since you made your debut back in 2010?
I think mostly I am trying to get stronger as a writer to be able to create more of my own material. I had a great opportunity to work with Kent Wells and released my first album. I wrote a couple singles on the album, and the rest came from these amazing publishing companies and songwriters, a process that really fascinates me. I have been working to become a better songwriter to release material that is indicative of who I am.
How has becoming a mother changed your mindset during the creative process as an artist?
Motherhood is just a fascinating thing. Motherhood makes it so that you are responsible for another human being. I think becoming a mother has helped put my priorities in perspective. Before the birth of my son Donovan, I was living only for myself, and now I have a family. I have an amazing human being to take care of that allows me to see the world through his innocent eyes that aren’t yet jaded due to life events. Most everything is still brand new to him. Being his mom has helped change my mindset during the creative process as an artist.
Who were some of your favorite musicians growing up?
I grew up listening to a little bit of everything, but some of my favorites growing up were Tim McGraw, Reba McEntire, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash. My mom was a big fan of pop music artists like Madonna, and Michael Jackson. I also played the violin growing up, so, I had a lot of classical training as well. I feel I had a vast experience with music in my life that has allowed me to connect with various genres. Music has always been something that moves my soul.
You recently had the opportunity to work with the Ying Yang Twins on your new single, “Left, Right, Left.” Can you tell us how this collaboration presented itself?
It was the label that set this whole process in motion. There is a common interest with the Ying Yang Twins because they are wrestling fans and they have worked with WWE in the past. The collaboration came about by Garrett Clark reaching out to see if they were interested. We had an amazing song written by Sean Gasaway and plans to release it as a single. We wanted to see if this would be something that the Ying Yang Twins wanted to be a part of, they did and it turned out great. I think it is a cool crossover. The fact that they wanted to do something with me makes me feel incredibly honored.
Do you plan on making other crossovers into the Hip Hop or R&B genres in the future?
I am always open to opportunities in different genres. I am a fan of all music. Country music is my core and is where I tend to lean when I am writing and performing on my own. I love that there have been so many crossover hits in all genres of music. Music is the one thing that we can all connect through as human beings.
With women’s empowerment being a national and international movement, can you share with us how you want to use your platform as a songstress to help empower women?
I always feel that I release music that promotes strong independent women and the ability to go after what you want in life. I like to believe that I am somewhat of an example, coming from a small town, that anyone can make it in any industry. I also like to help remind people that anything they want to do also takes passion, drive, willingness, and the knowledge that you will be told, “no” one hundred times before you will hear that one, “yes.” When the, “yes,” finally happens, it means more.
You, like many of us, have benefited from the fine arts programs in primary school and secondary school. With programs across the country slowly diminishing because of budget cuts have you thought about possibly partnering with the state of Virginia to help provide a platform to salvage some of the programs in your home state?
I would absolutely love to be a part of something like that. I was aware that there had been some budget cuts, but I did not realize how few fine art classes are being taught in schools. I guess I was very fortunate to have course programs in theatre, art, orchestra, and band. I cannot believe that not providing these programs in our schools has become a reality! These lessons open so many other doors and children’s imaginations. These fine arts teachings are avenues for them to grow on so many other levels, to open their minds to different possibilities. I would absolutely like to be a part of something that offers continuation of the fine arts.
What is next for Mickie James, the musician?
We have released four singles off this last music project. It has been a slow and steady burn. I am just trying to release fresh material to keep the music going, but I am hoping to put out at least a full EP if not the whole album by the end of this calendar year.
What will be the name of the project?
I do not know, just yet! We are releasing so many singles. With the first two projects, we simply used the name of the featured single. I’m not sure that I want to go that route with this project, with all the collaborations. We also have original material on it with different songwriters. So, we will see what happens.
Have you thought about possibly working with Kid Rock at some point in your career?
OMG, how incredible would that be?! I have certainly thought about it. I do not know if that would ever present itself, but it would be incredible because he is an icon. I love Kid Rock!
Is there anything you want to pursue outside of the entertainment business?
I have things that I want to do like starting my own retreat and horse farm rescue center. It is something that I am passionate about and it is more of a charity venture that I want to start. It is a whole process, and I am still in the research stage to try to figure out who I need to hire and what licenses to obtain before moving forward. Also, being a mom is the of utmost priority to me now.
Would you be interested in performing one of your singles in a commercial or as background music one day?
Absolutely! I do not know if I could write jingles but to have a single I’ve recorded become the background of a movie or a favorite television show would be awesome, or as a songwriter, for a song to be entrenched with an iconic program or motion picture would be incredible.