Miko Marks Is Freeway Bound
If Miko Marks is freeway bound, it's for good reason. With a hook-filled, deeply felt debut CD under her belt and a bona fide hit single to go with it, this Michigan native is definitely going places in contemporary country music. Released by Oakland-based Mirrome Records, Freeway Bound is the CD, and the Sunny Russ-penned title cut has enjoyed international airplay, including 11 weeks on the European Country Music Association charts, not to mention the attention of Nashville cats here at home. Fans of Shania Twain, Reba McEntire, Faith Hill, and Patty Loveless will want to check out Miko's positive country sound, tinged with a little R & B sass. And it doesn't hurt that she looks great in a cowboy hat.
Produced by legendary guitar and studio ace Ron Cornelius (Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Confederate Railroad) at Music Row's FunHouse Studios and assisted by crack session players like David Hungate on bass, Jo Spivey on fiddle, and the wonderful Brent Mason on electric guitar, Freeway Bound is a splendid mix of honky-tonk heaven and clean, crafted Nashville pop. It features seven of Miko's own songs, with their strong, affirmative lyrics and irrepressibly catchy choruses.
The autobiographical "Mama" - yes, she proves that the classic country theme still has life in it - and "Feeling the Rain" are particular standouts among her own compositions, while Miko makes the Sunny Russ, Marty Rainone ("Kickin' Back"), and Bobby Atkins ("Don't Come Crying to Me") tunes completely her own .
Born of Mississippi stock and raised in the industrial heartland of Flint, Michigan, Miko Marks took to music early: "I can honestly tell you that I can't remember a time when I wasn't singing. I was raised in church and was a natural at singing in the choir and gospel plays." Like many of the northern factory towns that were magnets for job-seekers, Flint was a melting pot of cultures and musical styles: "I had friends from many different backgrounds and I became aware of country music at a young age. I remember that along with rhythm and blues and gospel, I was also being exposed to Kenny Rogers and Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline."
As the new single "Mama" recounts, the precocious Marks entered her first talent contest at age 5: "I sang a song called 'Searching for Love,' which was a mature song for me to sing at such a young age, but I put my heart and soul into that tune." She lost the contest and felt the sting, as the new video of "Mama" poignantly depicts, but her career path was established. The young Miko started writing songs "at 8 or 9" and, following a Flint Central High School choir stop at Carnegie Hall, wound up with a music scholarship to Grambling State University in Louisiana, where her classmates included hip-hop diva Erykah Badu, who remains a friend to this day. Marriage brought her to San Francisco and northern California, where she now lives.
Producer Ron Cornelius gives Freeway Bound a full but clear, uncluttered sound, totally compatible with Miko's own philosophy that "there is beauty in simplicity." Jump-started by Brent Mason's sputtering Fender guitar and Eddie Bayers' drums, the title cut leads off with a take-no-prisoners exuberance, and "Kickin'Back " continues the celebration of independence and self-empowerment. By time the slower, dreamy opening tempo of "Mama" kicks in, with Scott Sanders' classic country petal steel riffs, you know you're firmly in the pleasure zone. It's straight-ahead country, but utterly contemporary – no phony retro touches, just crisp, committed playing and a vocal style Miko characterizes as "very raw and earthy with an unforced innocence."
Miko praises the session players and producer Cornelius for making her feel comfortable in the studio: "The players, like David Hungate, Eddie Bayers, and Jo Spivey, made it so easy for me to see that I could be free and relax and do what I do because they sure took care of the rest. Ron Cornelius is an awesome producer. We both knew we were working on something special and everyone treated it as such."
Miko is also a regular performer on the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo circuit, founded by the African-American rodeo pioneer. As Miko says, "It has been one of the most surprising times of my career. In every town people really love the music and don't hesitate to tell me so." A fledgling rider, she admits: "They say horses can feel fear – one day I will conquer that fear and own horses of my own. One of my dreams."
While some listeners may be surprised to hear an African-American singing country (tell that to Ray Charles, Al Green, and Charley Pride!), Miko Marks feels no constraints on her musical creativity: "I am a singer-songwriter who loves country music and loves to tell stories. I am doing what I love and feels right!" For her, country is a musical home base, not a prison. The pop and R & B accents of "Excited," "Feeling the Rain," and "Don't Come Crying to Me," testify to the fact that musical honesty is more important to her than industry labels. Indeed, "I Believe in You," with Billy Davis' shimmering backup vocals, could be mistaken for a Whitney Houston or Celine Dion single, if not for Miko's own distinctive voice.
The truth is that Miko Marks' way is free and unbound, and a meeting with country giant Charley Pride confirmed her confidence in herself and in her future: "He gave me the 'thumbs up' and advice that I will cherish throughout this journey." As her "Find My Way Home declares, "I'm going to keep moving on/Find the place where I belong/I'm going to find my way home." If you ask about her plans, she says, "All I can say is that I know I am on the right path. Who knows what's next, but I'm having the best time right now!" Freeway Bound provides plenty of reason to go along for the ride.
» Hollywood Heavyweights Launch New Christian Music Label
» Round Hill Music And Zync Sign Madge To Joint Venture
» YG PLUS and Gracenote to Bring K-POP to Fans around the World
» Lithuanian Band Grabs Bronze at the Silk Road Indie Music Festival 2017
» HBC Fall Festival Celebrates 12 years of HBC Fest
Music Spotlight Directory
» [2018-09-16] Live Nation Electronic Asia Inks Deal With Budweiser For Creamfields Festivals; Together, Creamfields And Budweiser Will Focus On Building Entirely New Content For Dedicated Electronic Music Fans Throughout Asia
» [2018-08-23] Andy Ma Appointed Warner Music China CEO; Andy Ma Has Also Been Appointed EVP, Commercial And Business Development For Greater China
» [2018-08-23] IndieOn Connects Music To The Blockchain; IndieOn Is Confident Of Creating A "music Miner" Who Listens More And Grow Their Token Value
» [2018-06-23] The 2018 MIDEM Silk Road International Music Alliance Signing; International Music Industries Signing Of A Mutual Resource Sharing Agreement With Shanghai Conservatory Of Music & The China Records Group
» [2018-06-06] Screen Music Connect To Explore The Music Of Film, Television And Interactive Media; Created By James Hannigan, Award-winning Composer And Game Music Connect Co-founder, Screen Music Connect Builds On The Success Of The Sold-out Game Music Conferences
» [2018-06-05] Fred Casimir To Develop BMG's Global Recordings Business; As Well As Building BMG's European Infrastructure, Casimir Was Instrumental In Developing BMG's Recordings Business
» [2018-06-03] 13 Music Label Sold To MTN; DSN Music Spins Off Record Label To Albuquerque Music Entrepreneur's New Group
» [2018-06-02] CISAC 2018 Annual Report; A Comprehensive Overview Of The Confederation's Work To Serve 4 Million Creators And 239 Authors Societies Across The World
» [2018-06-02] MusicDish Announces A Love Electric 2018 China Tour; The Tour Will Crisscross Through China With 12 Shows In 8 Cities, Including Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhuhai, Shenzhen, Kunming, Jiaxin, Wuhan And Beijing
» [2018-06-02] Darcus Beese Named President Of Island Records; Renowned U.K. Music Executive To Join Universal Music Group's U.S. Label Leadership
» [2018-05-17] Avant-Garde Label Maybe Noise Launches In Beijing; The Official Launch Will Be On May 26 At Magnet Theater With A Performance Supporting Its First Vinyl Release: Píng Zè
» [2018-05-04] Award-Winning Lithuanian Rock Band Colours Of Bubbles "She Is The Darkness" 2018 China Tour; The Tour Will Kickoff In Shanghai Where The Band Will Represent Lithuania During The Country's Signing To The Silk Road Music Alliance
follow MusicDish on