If I am forced to define myself musically I would say I am a country/pop – singer/songwriter. I’ve
been writing songs…well I guess before I could even write…always making up a tune.
As a small child I admired “Pa” (my grandfather Eddie Gaskins) and uncle Ronnie, who came by on occasion
with a guitar, hymns, old country songs, and maybe a bit of humorous cowboy poetry. They taught
me the song that would become the first and most frequent vocal performance of my preschool
“career” …the “Oscar Meyer Wiener Song” (most often sang as a duet with my sister Cathy).
After those early living room performances I was always drawn to music. I wanted to play the
piano so badly that I just couldn’t stand it. I had recurrent dreams of playing beautiful songs only to
wake up and be disappointed that it wasn’t real. Lessons, much less the purchase of a piano, were
far beyond our family budget. I remember being so determined that I drew piano keys on the back
of a shoe box and tried to cut them partially out so that I could press on them and make them
move. I thought maybe I could learn how to play by pressing on the shoebox keys and imagining
how they would sound.
My first public solo was in a school play at Edison Elementary in Lawton Oklahoma. I sang
“Whenever I Feel Afraid” from the King and I. If you remember the tune there is an entire section
of whistling. Well I just couldn’t whistle at all! I had to fake the whistle part while someone behind
stage whistled into another microphone…my first education in how show business really works…
“Pa” bought me a guitar in 9th grade and I started taking lessons. I LOVED taking lessons
(even though I had to suffer through sneezing the entire time (my teacher had cats, which I am highly allergic to)).
Once I started playing guitar it seemed I was constantly writing songs. I could finally take all
those “deep” heartfelt words and make them into real songs.
Note: – Actual poem from junior high school:
“Music is fun
Algebra’s a bore
Mike’s the guy…
that I am for”
My lyrics began to take a more serious note as I matured. I eventually became a member of Heartsong
which went on to some success on the Christian radio charts back when contemporary Christian
music was new and controversial.
My very young musical influences were a mixed bag of opposites: Elton John, Tammy
Wynette, Seals and Crofts, and Heart. As an adult I have been totally smitten by the late Eva Cassidy and most recently the textured vocals of Holly Williams and the cool lyrics of Kacey Musgraves. So if you ask me what my favorite genre is…well the answer is somewhere between all of that.
As life does, time moved on and I became deeply committed to my career with a medical
company. I traveled to, and worked in over 50 countries. Basically I left music behind to pay the bills.
Now after a move back to my home town to be near family, I found myself back to the girl who had a passion to write music…so I am…
My family – who love me in sweatpants and without make-up. What more could anyone really need?
My faith and belief in a God that is bigger than myself.
My musical mentors:
My school music teachers Mrs. Evelyn Smith, Mrs, Brenda Curry, Mrs. Vicki Hogan. I am so thankful I had music
teachers who cared about students and loved music. Not everyone is that lucky.
Danny Brown, who first showed me how to translate a guitar chord to piano, and was my first
experience working with a truly gifted arranger. I will love him forever.
Last but not least – author and researcher, Dr. Brene’ Brown. Her books “The Gifts of
Imperfection” and “Daring Greatly” (the result of many years of research) is the sole reason I got
past the fear and started being real. I am no longer afraid to say that I am a singer…I am a songwriter…I am imperfectly…perfect.