A local woman wants to take country music back to its roots, and is hoping to do so in Nashville, Tenn., with the help of a Kickstarter project and local support.
Mandy Heinemann, an aspiring country artist from the tiny town of Walsh in Randolph County, seeks to make a four-song EP with the classic country feel she grew up with.
Heinemann started singing in front of people in second grade, but only because she didn’t know what a “solo” meant.
“I was always painfully shy,” she said. “The teacher asked me if I wanted to sing a solo, but I didn’t even know what that meant.”
Ever since that first performance, singing was a “bug that bit” for Heinemann.
She started performing at eight years old, and she always recognized that country music was calling.
Heinemann is all about classic country music with fiddles, steel guitars and a “honky-tonk feel.”
She is inspired by artists like George Jones, Connie Smith, Faron Young, Lynn Anderson, Ray Price and Loretta Lynn — all of whom she grew up listening to.
She sang with Belleville’s Avery Hill Band for a little over a year after her son and daughter were born.
“We did shows constantly, every weekend, all weekend,” she said. “I wanted to do something on my own and focus truly on country.”
Heinemann discovered she really liked blues and formed a band called Midnight Run.
“We were very successful locally and even did a parade here in Waterloo,” she said. “We did country, rock and blues.”
Although St. Louis has a bigger blues scene, Heinemann said Randolph County hadn’t seen much of it at all.
Heinemann said they played so much as a band that they kind of got burnt out.
“We’re still really good friends, but we don’t play together anymore,” she said.
She went on to do some work on her own including recording demos at a studio in Sparta.
The producer at the studio, Gary Gordon, recommended she strike out on her own and record at the studio.
Since use of studios and producing is expensive, Heinemann was unsure of how it would all work.
Her father said he would love to have a CD of her singing, but getting something like that put together at a studio would cost thousands of dollars, she said.
“I didn’t really have any of my own material, but my sister writes,” she said. “We figured out we could put something together for my family and friends. That was all it was intended to be.”
The album was going to be mostly cover songs, along with a few Heinemann’s sister and cousin had written.
“About halfway through recording the album, (Gordon) told me it was turning out a lot better then he thought it would and he thought I could get some airplay,” she said. “I told him he was out of his mind.”
Turns out, he was right, because Heinemann’s music was played in seven different countries.
“It was a whirlwind from there,” she said. “I was on iTunes and Amazon, and in less than two months of the release of the CD, we had sold a little over 300 copies. I didn’t even expect to sell 12.”
Heinemann even had a review in Country Music People Magazine and was given three-and-a-half out of five stars.
“For a debut CD that was never supposed to be played anywhere but home, I was thrilled,” she said.
After that taste of success, Heinemann is striving for more.
She hopes to make a four-song EP in a Nashville studio, but needs $6,000 to take the first step.
“We’re looking at travel costs and the cost to actually make the CD like artwork, advertising and print,” she said.
Heinemann made a page on Kickstarter.com, a website that lets innovators of all kinds post their projects and dreams for people to view and possibly fund. There is a 60-day limit, and if she doesn’t reach her goal by April 19 at 6 p.m., the money raised disappears.
With a little more than 20 days to go, Heinemann is hoping to spread the word to make her dream come true of making classic country music where it first started.
“I want that Ray Price sound,” she said. “Old country needs to make a comeback.”
To help her and pledge a donation, visit her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/HeinemannMandy and follow the links to the Kickstarter page.
“It’s really exciting to think that I could do this,” she said. “But it’s expensive.”