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Exclusive: WWE Superstar Mickie James on her successful and growing career as a singer, songwriter and touring artist

Photo courtesy of MickieJames.com
Photo courtesy of MickieJames.com
EXPERT COLUMNIST
Modified 27 Feb 2020, 13:51 IST
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As a professional wrestler, Mickie James practically needs no introduction. A two-time "Woman Of The Year" via Pro Wrestling Illustrated, James is the only wrestler to have held the WWE Women's, WWE Divas, and TNA Knockouts Championships.

Yet for a decade Mickie James has also kept very active as a musician. Her first album was 2010's country-tinged Strangers & Angels, as produced by Kent Wells (Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Reba McEntire). The same year also brought the release of the single "Hardcore Country," which became a part of James' ring entrances for the next few years.

2013 saw the release of her album Somebody's Gonna Pay, which reached #15 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart. James has since released a variety of singles, including last year's "Christmas Presence," and toured alongside Montgomery Gentry, Randy Houser, Gretchen Wilson, and Rascal Flatts. She also became an inductee into the Native American Music Awards Hall Of Fame in 2017, winning a "Best Single Recording" from the Native American Music Awards in 2018.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Mickie James by phone on February 26, 2020, about her musical journey, future career plans, motherhood and more. The full interview is embedded below -- and will also appear on a future edition of the Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz podcast -- while part of the chat has been exclusively transcribed for Sportskeeda.

More on Mickie James can be found online at www.mickiejames.com.

On what to expect from a Mickie James live show:

Mickie James: It's exciting. We have so much with fun it. We build our shows to just be a good range of my songs, songs that I wrote, songs that I play, but it's like a party, it's fun. I like to say that our style is a very country, Southern rock thing. So it's definitely like a blended kind of show... We like to have fun at our shows. If you can't have any fun out there, there's no sense in doing it.

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On when she wanted to become a singer versus becoming a professional wrestler:

Mickie James: I think I wanted to be both as a child. You know how you have all these aspirations as a child. "I'm going to be this, I'm going to be that." Wrestling was my thing with my dad, that was our bonding thing. It was just ironic how I kind of fell into it after high school. However, I grew up riding horses and that's honestly what I thought I was going to be doing for my whole life.

Even though I wanted to sing, I wasn't confident enough in myself that I thought I had the ability to be a singer. I would record myself and I would practice and I would do choir in church, but I just wasn't super-confident in myself. Especially not confident enough to stand on-stage and make myself so vulnerable. It wasn't until I was on the road full-time with wrestling that I went back -- I played violin for five years in school -- more to my music roots... I was on the road 200 days a year, at least... A lot of that time was spent in my car, listening to the radio.

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I've always written thoughts, ideas, whatever. I felt like I was starting to write more in a lyrical kind of form and then I started realizing that I was writing not just in a lyrical form but to melodies that were on the radio and stuff like that. I started writing songs, or what I thought were songs. Out of that, I decided, "You know, this is the one thing I always wanted to do." As a kid, I was completely fearful and had self-doubt, all these things that fear brings in.

On her hunch to take a risk in her music:

Mickie James: I was like, "I'm just gonna go take these songs to Nashville and take these songs and cut them, or at least cut the best ones. If it's only two of them, that's fine. If it ends up as a coaster on my mom's coffee table, that's fine." (laughs) I don't want to look back at my life and go, "Why didn't I ever do that?"

I did, and that was about 2008 that I brought this collection of stuff that I wrote down and I met so many people... It was Kent Wells, who plays with Dolly Parton, who was also the producer on my first album, who was the one out of meeting all these people -- I would meet with big producers as well as just Nashville producers -- that really made me believe in myself. He's like, "Mickie you have these great songs, but I want to put you with songwriters and I wanna strengthen your songwriting ability because I think you genuinely have talent. But you also have a unique sound that doesn't sound like anyone in Nashville right now. You have such a unique story and background, and I would rather take you in and really try to hone in so you can find yourself and see if this is something that you're really serious about."

Through that process of doing my first album with him, I really started to believe in myself a bit more... That was 2010 that I put my first album out and I was so grateful for him because I don't think that he had not given me that courage or belief in myself that I was capable of doing that... I fell in love with the business and love the industry so much. For me, it just creates a balance of spending the last 20-something years of my life in this aggro-male-dominant, aggression-built industry to release a softer side of me that people don't often know.

Published 27 Feb 2020, 13:51 IST
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