Musician Friends

Valentines Day is right around the corner. I am sure most of us as a child or teen picked up a daisy and plucked the pedals citing the ole verse "She loves me, she loves me not" or "He loves me, he loves me not" until all of the pedals were gone and if we didn't get the outcome we wanted we would pick another and try again, though most of us guys probably would never admit it. lol. This song by Ciera Mackenzie brings you back to that time. The song speaks for itself. I don't have to explain it to you. My purpose is to get you to listen to it if you have not already. It will take you back to Valentines Day in school when we would all hang the construction paper envelopes we made on the back of our desks and all of the students would drop Valentines Day cards into them for our classmates. It will take you back to that crush you had on a particular boy or girl but you kept getting mixed signals from and were not sure where you stood and it was driving you crazy. The girl in the song thinks she has finally learned the truth when she opens her valentine from a particular boy and there is a lollipop that says "Be Mine"! She has a moment of clarity and is momentarily ecstatic until her friends all hold up the same lollipop and she is brought right back down to where she was. Wondering whether the boy likes her or not frown emoticon It is a really cute song and I wonder if this is written from an actual life experience. Maybe Ciera will weigh in on the writing of it and let us in on the story. Is a true story or a made up story?

Don't think that all of her songs are this sweet. Behind the sweet appearance of Miss Ciera Mackenzie she writes some songs that have me scratching my head. There is a toughness behind some of her lyrics with lines like "I don't get jealous, I don't get don't get angry, I get even!" from 'Burn You Down' or "I'll be fine but you won't, I will break your soul, you won't ever love again!" from 'Spell by Love' off of her debut album 'Thoughts from a Hay Bale'. Her song writing is intriguing and has me wondering what the backstory is behind these. Maybe she would share a little about the stories but something tells me that she will leave us hanging in the mystery of them. There is some mystery behind the sweetness of Ciera Mackenzie. 

Military Spouse Magazine

Performing in front of a large crowd is enough to make even the most confident adult sweat a little. That’s why I am so impressed to see a young person perform in front of a big audience… and if you are lucky enough to be stationed at Fort Sill, you get an opportunity to see an amazing young woman, talented singer/songwriter, AND military kid open for Big and Rich on April 25th!

Ciera MacKenzie is your typical military kid.  Both of her parents have served this nation; her mom, Tonya, has served in the Army for almost 23 years and is the Executive for the Commandant for the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, and her dad, Danny, is a disabled Army veteran who served seven years with the 82nd Airborne and the 4th Ranger Training Battalion.  Ciera has lived her entire life as an Army brat.

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with Ciera and her parents, after watching a YouTube video of her original song titled “Volunteer Soldier”.  When you listen to the lyrics, “A hero, don’t you want to be a hero, even when you see all the others die”, it is hard to believe that the words were written by a child. But after speaking with her for only a few moments, you realize that Ciera is a remarkable young lady, wise beyond her years.  Like so many military kids, she has life experiences that are simply foreign to many civilian kids her age. Does she think that military life has made her different than other kids? “I sort of feel different. The fact that it is so normal to me is what makes it different”, she told me.

I could hear the pride in both of her parent’s voices as they spoke of their daughter: “I am always impressed with Ciera’s ability to step up to responsibility, and for her kind heart… she is always sensitive to the needs of other people.”  Asked if she thought that her military service has helped to shape Ciera’s character she responded, “Most definitely my military service has had a part of that. We are not only serving our country, we are always helping people… our kids see that and follow suit.”

           

At the tender age of eight, Ciera started writing music; she sings and plays acoustic, electric and bass guitar.  “Music just gives me so many opportunities, and peace of mind. It allows me to express myself, it helps me to relax, and share my feelings.” Her first CD (available on iTunes) has music about everything from sleepover pranks, to puppy love… and, of course, the song that got the attention of Big and Rich, “Volunteer Soldier”.  All 10 songs on the album, titled Thoughts from a Hay Bale”, are written by this talented pre-teen. Danny told me that his daughter is a farm girl at heart; she laid atop of that hay bale, out by the baby goats that she adores, and wrote all of that music. “She’s always been gifted musically, she is creative”, he says of his daughter. “I am not musically talented whatsoever! She is also very kind, she is good to all of her siblings and friends and she is very loyal. Her first Facebook “like” was from a guy that I served in the Army with. He owns a company and he sent her a tee-shirt… which she now wears to every show.”

She will be wearing that tee-shirt when she opens for Big and Rich later this month. Excited to tell me the details, she explained how it all came about: “My Dad was giving CD’s out and a lady from MWR contacted me on Facebook and asked if I wanted to open up for Big and Rich!  I was jumping up and down, like ‘Oh My Gosh!'” She will be singing her original song and the National Anthem for that concert, and will be performing eight of her original songs the next day at Rucker Park at 4 pm. 

We hope, if you are in the area, you will go and enjoy both of these concerts and support this talented, kind-hearted military kid. Her parents said she will be available after the show for autographs and pictures. They will also be selling tee-shirts and CD’s.  The free concert on April 25th is a Polo Field. Gates open at 6:00 and the concert begins at 8:00. 

To follow Ciera’s musical journey, please like her facebook page. You can also download her CD on iTunes.

Musicians Friend

I am sure it is no secret that I am a huge fan of Ciera Mackenzie. In fact, she has become one of my favorite singer/songwriters, this including everyone. I searched for her music on line after reading an article in the Lawton Constitution about her shortly after the release of her first album 'Thoughts from a Hay Bale' and I instantly became a fan. The album is full of quality songs in various styles. This album is really special because it captures something that can never be duplicated even by Ciera Mackenzie herself. It captured the sweet voice of a child that was beginning to change and mature. While this natural occurring phenomenon was captured on the recordings, many of the song lyrics themselves were well beyond her years, like 'Volunteer Soldier', 'Paw Prints' , 'A Super Man', and 'River of Tears'.. Yet there are several age appropriate songs shared from a child's point of view, like 'Spell by Love' , 'Puppi Love' , 'Pickin' Daisies' and 'Learned to Fly'. I can play this album constantly and never tire of it. I love every song on it. This album will no doubt be a keepsake in her family forever. There is an added factor here that many may not know. Her mother CPT Tonya Crain sings backup and plays sax on the album. All Ciera MacKenzie fans should also purchase and keep a copy. This business is very competitive and there are no guarantees even for such an extremely talented young artist. Or, she may even decide to do something else later in life. Either way, should the stars align just right and Ciera hit the big time or she if decides to do something else in the future you will want to own this album. Ciera has a good grasp on this and says herself that she is just living in the moment and enjoying it. The cover of the album features the picture of a child. Compare that to the teenage performance photo's now and you also have a pictorial reference. When you browse her performance photos you can see the passion for performing in still photos.

The beginnings of her musical career are really unique. I mean, who records an album of original songs before they ever performed on stage? Not many. The usual route is to perform cover tunes adding a few original songs to your set over a period of time and transition into an original artist. Then record an original album. Who performs before a crowd or 12,000 on their very first gig? Ciera Mackenzie did. This trailblazer does things her way. Since that day she has been performing locally and touring other states nonstop to include regular performances in NashvilleTN.

I was a fan of her music well before I ever heard her perform live or met her in person. I met her at another local performer's show. We were both in attendance and I saw her in the crowd. I made a comment, "I know who that is. That's Ciera MacKenzie!". She gave a little smile and I figured that I probably embarrassed her a little. I turned back to my friends conversing and the next thing I know she was standing at my table. She came over to meet me and thank me for my support. I was totally impressed at her professional demeanor to be such a young new artist. She makes it a point to acknowledge the regulars at her performances. Many times by walking up to thank them personally for coming to her shows. It is a nice touch that is appreciated though not expected. It is this sort of artist appreciation that builds a loyal fan base. She certainly has my support on any and all future endeavors. She makes herself available for photos and autographs to any fan that wants them. She once offered to come play for me when I was sick if it would make me feel better. How cool is that? Add to that the fact that she performs at numerous charitable and civic events and you start to get the picture of what a remarkable young person she is. At 13 years old she put together a flood benefit for the flood victims in her home town of Cache OK. Her mother posted a flyer on fb for the event and asked "What were you doing at thirteen years old?" I was too ashamed to say or even respond to the post.

She is currently working on a new album and has recorded at least 5 or 6 new songs since 'Thought's from a Hay Bale'. I am sure she has a treasure trove of songs written yet unreleased. I look forward to her upcoming album and wish her all the luck in the future! Have a listen, buy an album and go see one of her shows!

Indie Music Review

-Ciera MacKenzie is an absolute FIRE CRACKER-