Country music's triple threats are that rarest of breeds. Performers who excel as singers, songwriters and instrumentalists--with Vince Gill, Brad Paisley and Keith Urban as recent examples--have also, until now, been predominantly male. With the release of the debut album by Megan Mullins, all that changes. Megan Mullins marks the arrival of a mature vocal stylist, a writer of real substance, and a world-class multi-instrumentalist--a true artist in every sense of the word.
A woman who has been dazzling audiences with her musical prowess since she was a toddler, Megan, now just 22, comes into her own with a record that shows country fans everywhere the full range of her artistry.
"This record is who I am," says the scarlet-haired Indiana native, who worked with producer Buddy Cannon, known for his work with Kenny Chesney, Willie Nelson and Reba McEntire, among others. "I've been playing and doing shows my entire life, and I think Buddy was able to capture the best in me."
Her accomplishments speak for themselves. She arrived in Nashville at 15, already with a formidable resume, and soon became one of the most sought-after musicians and background singers in town. She has backed artists including Sherrie´ Austin, Jamie O'Neal and Rebecca Lynn Howard; has been a recording and touring partner with former Alabama lead singer and Country Music Hall of Fame Member Randy Owen; has been a member of the house band of network shows including “Nashville Star” and “The Next GAC Star”; and has lent her musicianship to “The Outlaw Trail” PBS concert and DVD and an episode of PBS's “Legends and Lyrics” featuring Motown songwriting legend Lamont Dozier and Moody Blues vocalist/songwriter Justin Hayward.
Even with that daunting schedule, Megan found time to write 6 of the 11 songs and add both fiddle and mandolin work to a debut that offers a well-rounded look at one of country's most remarkable young talents. Every track displays her ability to bring a rare intimacy and passion to vocals that can be alternately conversational and soaring.
The songs include "He Don't Know It Yet," about the initial stages of attraction, and "The Biggest Thing," which looks at a moment of liberation found in small-town love. The humor ranges from "Almost Like You're Here," which combines sarcasm with a woman's inability to let go fully, to "All-American Family Band," a hilarious, semi-autobiographical, behind-the-scenes look at life in a band like the one Megan grew up in.
Megan is a master at portraying woman caught in the netherworld between love and loss, between troubled relationships and liberation. "Someone You Used To Know" is a waltz steeped in heartache and hard-earned knowledge; "What Are We Doin'," "I Ain't Ready To See You Yet" and "Smoke In The Wind" all offer gripping looks at women trying to make sense of a relationship's breaking point; "Here Goes Everything" deals with a woman finally going out on her own; and "Halos & Horns" is an ominously powerful song about a woman pushed over the edge by an out-of-control husband.
The album's first single, "Long Past Gone," deals with a woman leaving a relationship behind and charting her own path down the open road without regret or tears, relying on her own strength and determination. It is easy to see such a song as the embodiment of everything Megan has brought to the table as she has charted her own course and arrived at this point in her career.
"I've always been confident," she says, "but as you get older, that confidence increases, and that's been the case with me. You learn from everything and you get better all the time."
For Megan, the journey has been lifelong. She is one of a precious few who can say they have been born to perform. She was just 18 months old when her brother Marcus began Suzuki violin lessons, and such was her interest that her parents enrolled her as well. Within a few months, she could play a handful of songs, and by the time she was 3 and Marcus 5, they had joined their father on stage in the family band. They would perform from 100-200 shows a year from then on.
Both she and Marcus branched into other instruments--Megan is proficient on mandolin, guitar, piano, bass, cello, viola, clarinet and accordion--and there was no doubting her status as a prodigy. At 3, she won the State Fair Showmanship Award at the Indiana State Fiddle Championship, and at 5 she performed on the “Crook & Chase” TV show. At 10, she became the youngest Concert Master in the history of the Fort Wayne Youth Symphony and took the Ohio Grand Champion Fiddle Contest, and at 11 she won the Young Artist Classical Competition in Fort Wayne--just a few of scores of competitions she won through the years.
Her family's band played state and county fairs, festivals, churches and concerts in venues ranging from coffee houses to huge auditoriums and arenas. They also varied from a show behind a grandstand during a demolition derby to one in which they received a standing ovation while opening for Bill Anderson--a gig that earned them their first slot on the Grand Ole Opry.
A gifted student, Megan was able to tackle extracurricular activities ranging from acting classes to gymnastics and still graduate high school at 15. At that point, she headed with her mother to Nashville, poised to have her singing, writing, and instrumental skills carry her to the next level. Combined with her consummate abilities as an entertainer, those skills led her to a brief introduction to radio in 2006 with "Ain't What It Used To Be," and finally toward this album as the flagship artist on Stoney Creek Records, a new imprint of Broken Bow Records.
Her main goal as a recording artist, she says, is to bring the best possible music to the public.
"I want everything I record to be something that, 10 or 20 years from now, I'll still be singing and still be liking," she says. "It's very important to me to have lyrical integrity in the songs I sing. If I didn't write it, I've probably lived it. That's very important to me."
She has had a great relationship with fans since the days when she wasn't much more than a toddler, and the music she is creating these days is making that bond even stronger.
"The best compliment you can get is when you touch somebody," she says. "I love to hear that. I think I'd rather hear that I moved someone and made an impact on somebody's life than how well I played or sang."
In a world where many people don't have firm pictures of themselves even a few years down the road, Megan holds a clear vision of herself well down the line.
"I'm going to be that person that's 87 years old on my front porch playing fiddle and singing and writing songs," she says with a laugh. "That'll be me. This is what I do. It's all I've done and it's all I'm going to do."
It's something her first album proves very well, and something that bodes well for the future of country music.