One-on-one with Tonya Mitchell
How much fun is performing?
It’s amazing. I love the feeling.
I think when someone says Tennessee, people instantly think of country music. Did you grow up with only country playing in your house?
Actually I did, and I grew up only singing country. I did listen to like Debbie Gibson and other pop music, but I would only sing country music.
Who did you look up to?
Tanya Tucker and Mariah Carey.
Were you emulating them as a singer and then grew older and found your own voice?
Yeah, I was just doing it for fun. I never had vocal lessons so it just developed into my own sound.
Did you ever find yourself wanting to rebel against country music?
I always had a pop thing, but I felt like I had to sing country.
Did you ever look at Shania Twain, how she could do country but still have a pop following?
That would be really cool. I never really thought about that and it would be awesome.
If you think about country music, it’s just pop with twang.
Do you want to get more involved in the industry? I mean with writing, producing etc., because when people think of pop singers they think in only one dimension, singing.
Right. I want to write, produce, act, and get into fashion design.
Singing has opened those doors.
I’m so excited about that too.
Did you dream about being a singer or a doctor or something else?
As far as I can remember, it was singing.
Being eighteen, you are at a real transitional place in your life, between college and career. What are your plans for the next few years?
I’m concentrating on music for the next few years, but I definitely want to have something to be able to fall back on. I’d like to go to school for fashion design.
When did you get signed? How old were you?
When I was seventeen.
So when you were like fourteen did you ever think it was possible?
No, I was just having fun. I was always like if I get discovered that would be great, but I knew I’d always do this. It just happened sooner than I thought.
Were you the envy of your friends?
Everybody was jealous. It was a great thing for me. (laughs)
How do your friends react now?
When they found out I was going on tour with *NSYNC they were like, ‘Yeah, right!’ but now they are excited.
Speaking of *NSYNC, are you nervous about the tour?
I am totally nervous.
The venues are huge. That has to be nerve-wracking.
When you sing, what are you thinking about?
I’m concentrating on singing so much. I don’t think of anything else.
Is there anyone that you really would like to meet? Anyone that you would just be unable to speak to?
Probably Lauren Hill or Stevie Wonder. I wouldn’t be able to talk.
Last, where are your dreams?
I hope my music inspires people and I want to be a good role model for everybody, not just the girls but for the guys too. I want to show everybody that I didn’t grow up in the spotlight like the Mickey Mouse Club to make it. That is important for kids to know.
+ charlie craine