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Entertainment News

Saturday, 25 December, 2010 2:57 PM

CMA New Artist Spotlight: 'Mickie James'

Photo by Matt Roberts

New country artist Mickie James

By Bob Doerschuk
© 2010 CMA Close Up News Service

All you guys who sing about fightin’ and raisin’ a little heck, meet Mickie James. She can not only go toe to toe with you on the mic, she just might boot you out of the spotlight when she’s done. But there’s no shame in that, since James brings a high-impact delivery to the stage as well as the wrestling ring.

For several years, James dominated the ranks of female competitors in the World Wrestling Entertainment organization, winning her first of six world championships at WrestleMania XXII in 2006. But that tells only part of her story, which began with a love for riding horses while growing up in Montpelier, Va., and leads now to recording her debut album as a tough and tender chanteuse.

Produced by Kent Wells, Strangers and Angels starts at full speed with James’ first single. “Are You With Me,” written by Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson and Ben Hayslip, explodes with thumping drums, buzz-saw guitars and edgy but down-home fiddle, and when James asserts her love for Chevy pickup trucks, you know she’s right in her idiom.

Having established that she rocks hard, James shows her skills as a soulful balladeer on “Don’t Apologize,” one of her three co-writes among these 11 tracks. And on the title song, written by Chris Tompkins, Jess Cates and Kara DioGuardi, she delivers a complex narrative with sensitivity both to the peaks of the melody and the speculative musings of the lyric.

These moments draw from details that may have escaped her WWE persona — the five years she devoted to playing violin in her school orchestra, for example, or the scholarship offered to her by a literary arts college in Maine. In fact, her way with words guided her toward this new career, when Danny Kensey, a musician in Richmond, worked with her to fashion a poem she’d written for her mother into a song. Still, high-impact Country is the norm here, all the way to a final track that hammers the “B” word against the beat like a steel chair onto the head of a hapless rival.

IN HER OWN WORDS Q&A

SONG YOU’D SECRETLY WANT TO COVER
“‘I’d Rather Be Blind,’ by Etta James.”

DREAM DUET PARTNER
“Kid Rock.”

BOOK ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND
“Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much, by Anne Wilson Schaef.”

FAVORITE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION
“Horses.”

SOMETHING WE’D NEVER GUESS ABOUT YOU
“I never board a plane without my Snuggie and airplane pillow — no shame!”

MUSICAL HERO
“Shania Twain - she broke the mold for women in Country. Not only did she embrace femininity through her music but also set a really good example of what womanhood is truly about. It’s not always about the glitz and glamour but more about the true beauty and strength that comes from within.”

SONG YOU WISH YOU’D WRITTEN
“’Delta Dawn’ or ‘Fancy’ or ‘Sweet Dreams.’ I wish I had written them all!”

ACTRESS TO PORTRAY YOU IN A BIOPIC
“Marilyn Monroe.”

LUCKY CHARM
“I carry a little glass lady bug with me and a little pair of angel wings. My house seems to get infested with lady bugs once a year and since their good luck I can’t kill them.

On the Web: www.MickieJames.com

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