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Nevada woman nears success in Nashville

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Marci Mitchell performs last June at Bushwhacker Days, where she closed the annual celebration as its headline entertainer. She is a 1997 graduate of Nevada High School who has lived in Nashville since graduating from Pittsburg State University in 2001.
The songs in Marci Mitchell's Missouri heart will be sung and the dreams in her imagination lived.

Given her talent, determination and love of country music, you can count on the 1997 Nevada High School graduate to keep advancing her career in Nashville, where she has lived since completing a degree in English at Pittsburg State University in 2001. "I'm writing songs, meeting with record labels and scheduling the usual summer stuff with fairs and clubs," she said Monday.

"Living here is exciting because on any night, you can go hear great music. It's Music City and so many people come here with hopes of making millions. It's humbling, too, because hearing the talent makes you realize you are a big fish in a little sea. But as many as move here, thousands of others give up and move away."

Mitchell, whose parents, Marvin and Linda Klotz, retired from 3M and live in Nevada, often performs in this region because her band lives nearby, at least by music standards: bassist Mark Zell in Kansas City, drummer Mark Elting in St. Joseph and guitarist Lou Davidson in Pittsburg.

She played the Sheldon Old Settlers' Picnic in August 2011 and headlined Bushwhacker Days last June but has not yet booked any dates in the Nevada area this year.

Having earned a reputation as a well-organized, clean-living bandleader, Mitchell was asked if it was tricky to avoid alcohol, drugs and other vices often associated with entertainers. "It could be for a weaker person," she said.

"I have a lot of friends who fell into that, especially on the road where the days run into nights and there is a lot of boredom or loneliness. I didn't need to lean on those things because I had a good upbringing and a strong family unit.

"I always wanted to show you don't need to lean on those other things to have a good time and make good music. I was strict with my band when I started, but there are times in a honky tonk when people want to come up and buy you a drink. We're there to entertain, so it's fine if they want to have a beer as long as they can finish the night."

Participating in the NHS Show Choirs, Mitchell was also known here as an athlete whose skill as a volleyball setter won a scholarship to Fort Scott Community College. "My two loves were always music and sports," she said.

"We had a strong volleyball team in high school. Jodi McNealy coached us to the district finals one year and I think we only lost one game. I've had some weird sports injuries. I ruptured my Achilles tendon playing volleyball in Nashville four years ago. It sounded like a shotgun going off in that gym.

"It completely split like a rubber band and Dad rode the Greyhound to be my nurse for a few days."

Still riding horses every time she can, Marci was downcast at the death of Rosie, the mare she had owned for many years, on her birthday last Oct. 15 at her parents' farm.

Her love of literature deepened at Pitt State, finding Henry David Thoreau (1817-'62) is her favorite writer. "I always said I won't watch 'Gone With the Wind' 'til I read the book," said Mitchell, whose stage name is the same as "Gone With the Wind" author Margaret Mitchell (1900-'49).

"I'm halfway through, so finishing it and watching the movie are on my list this year," she said.

She said many hopefuls miss the mark by imitating popular singers. "I think it's about being different," she said.

"You can't try to be like somebody else and be authentic. Your music should be something people haven't heard. That's what the labels are looking for and it sure doesn't hurt if you know some of the right people.

"The goal of every young kid with stars in their eyes is to be rich and famous, but not everyone will make it to that status. What it's about for me is to make good music that people want to hear. There is a fine line between being rich and famous and being able to make a living at it."

Which she did for six years, playing 200 nights a year, and she still performs four times a month in venues as far afield as South Dakota. She is regional office manager for Bridgestone Tires.

Even after so much seasoning, Mitchell said headlining Bushwhacker Days was a challenge because it was in her hometown with so many homefolks listening. "It was nice but also nerve-wracking," she said, chuckling.

She is meeting with representatives of the Spin Doctors Music Group, who only have one female singer on their roster. "It's a numbers game and the singer they have is nothing like me, so that goes in my favor," she said.

"Perseverance counts as much as attitude. Generally with the talent in this town, it's not about singing more scales or playing more guitar, it's figuring out what your sound is and which songs people like. Play everywhere you can and try to leave a good impression.

"Let them know you're in this business to win and you're not going home 'til you do."

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