Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Arts Insider Spotlight: Cheyenne Mize

Among The Grey comes from this idea that most of our lives are lived in the in-between places instead of the destinations. Fortunately, the good stuff is in the middle — in the process. In that grey area is where you find those little sparks or dashes of color that make it all interesting and worthwhile. The record is like that; dark at times, but has a lot of sparkle to it.” – Cheyenne Mize

In the Spotlight: Cheyenne Mize, singer/songwriter/musician 
By Gioia Patton

In the two days leading up to my phone interview with Louisvillian Cheyenne Mize, I must have played her 2013 summer-released CD Among The Grey (Yep Roc) about six times, and not because I routinely listen that many times to a music artist’s CD as part of my research process.

The 30-year-old Southern Kentucky native, who’s resided in Louisville for about 20 years, graduated from Louisville’s Youth Performing Arts School.

TW: I think the reason I kept replaying the CD over and over was because of the sense of comfort I felt to my overall psyche. I’d also made a note to tell you that because your lyrics seemed so personal, at times I felt as though I was reading your diary. Was that your intent?

Cheyenne Mize: Yeah, it definitely was personal, but I feel like I’m never just writing about one particular experience, but usually just collating from a lot of different things. I guess I try to be a little general so that it can be relatable. But often a whole song is not just about one thing.

TW: Does that mean you have a notepad by your side in case song lyrics strike out of the blue?
Cheyenne: Yes. I have a notebook in my purse. Or sometimes when I’m driving, I’ll record a melody or lyric idea on my phone. A lot of them don’t get used, though.

TW: What instruments do you play?
Cheyenne: I started on piano and then picked up the guitar and violin at the same time when I was about 10 or 11. And since then, I have added some other string instruments. Once you play the violin, a lot of the other string instruments are a lot easier. (Laughs) Things with strings I can play a little bit of — most often it’s the dulcimer, banjo, and autoharp.

TW: You’re employed full-time as a music therapist. Was that your original career goal, or was the goal from the beginning to eventually become a full-time singer/songwriter/musician?
Cheyenne: I never really enjoyed performing unless it was with a big group. It wasn’t about playing for people but about playing with people, which is what I really enjoyed about music. So when I found out about music therapy after high school, I thought that would be really perfect because I could play music and work with people … and play music with people. So, I got my music therapy degree at the University of Louisville.

TW: Where are you employed as a music therapist?
Cheyenne: I work in the music therapy program at Norton Audubon Hospital. We work with patients to mainly help reduce their pain and anxiety and provide emotional support.

TW: How did your career as a professional music artist begin?
Cheyenne: I started playing music in college with a number of bands around town, playing the violin or singing backup. There was one main band in town I played with (Arnett Hollow), and we played together for about five years. And that was kind of when I realized that I could not only play with people and have that enjoyment but also do that for people and have that same enjoyment at the same time.

TW: Is becoming a famous music artist something you hope to achieve one day, or would you be just as content with your life if that never happened?
Cheyenne: I really just want to be able to continue to play and to record music. That’s the part I enjoy the most — the creative process of playing with some of my best musical friends, and sometimes being able to go out into the world and sharing that with other people. That’s my main goal. Yeah, I’m like to get my tunes out there as far as possible and have as many people as possible be able to hear them. But beyond that, I’m not really sure. (Laughs)

TW: Speaking of names, it doesn’t hurt publicity-wise that ‘Cheyenne Mize’ is such a unique name.
Cheyenne: Yes! It helps with Google!

In 2010, Cheyenne released her debut CD, Before Lately, which the New York Times described as “sweet without being cloying, weary without hopelessness.” The next year, after her performances at the music festival South By Southwest in Austin, Texas, Cheyenne was chosen by NPR as one of their 10 “Discoveries at SXSW 2011.”

Gioia Patton is an Arts & Entertainment celebrity profiler, concert reviewer and in-concert photographer.

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