Something to talk about with country soul chanteuse Mendi Stone
Mendi Stone retains an undeniable knack for slaying any entertainment stage she tackles. Her mellifluous journey unfolded in rural Alapaha, Georgia. “I have always had a passion for music,” asserts the nurse practitioner by day. “I discovered my voice around 10 years of age. I can remember a Christmas play at church when I was assigned a solo part. That was my first experience alone, that is, in front of a crowd.
“Growing up in church around inspiring talents has influenced me immensely. I credit my Aunt ‘Millie’ Mock and my Granny LaTrell with being the most encouraging in my continuing to sing through the years. Regarding professional gigs, I don’t do much performing compared to my younger brother Kyle. He sings lead for Kason Layne. I am a busy, working nurse practitioner.
“I would describe my singing as country-soul. I like to think I have patterned my ‘sound’ after artists such as Bonnie Raitt, Wynonna Judd, Reba McEntire, as well as soul singers such as Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight. My tastes for music have certainly evolved over the years, but I do find myself sticking with many of the same artists/songs I have always been drawn to.
“The songs I rehearsed for the Alapaha Station Celebration were of a great blend and variation. Some country, some blues/soul. Last year I chose Bonnie Raitt’s ‘Something to Talk About,’ Deana Carter’s ‘Strawberry Wine,’ the Judds’ ‘Love Is Alive,’ and Wynonna’s ‘Tell Me Why.’ This year I ran with Bonnie’s “Angel from Montgomery,” Reba’s “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” and Patty Loveless’s “Lonely Too Long” and “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye.” You would be surprised to learn that there is no real rhyme or reason to my song selection process. I simply pick songs that mean something to me, whether they be an emotional ballad or upbeat tune.
“I attempted Martina McBride’s ‘Whatever You Say’ one year. Wow, what a challenge that was! I don’t think I would try that one again. ‘River of Time’ by the Judds is definitely an emotional tune. I sang it several years ago at the celebration following the loss of a loved one.
“The celebration means a great deal to me to be allowed the opportunity to sing for my hometown. The one celebration memory that always comes to mind when I step onstage is the last time I saw my Aunt Millie smile and blow me a kiss. I must have been about 17 years old.
“I certainly struggle with stage fright. Always have. A great help for me is getting a feel for the crowd, learning their expectations early on, and delivering a crowd pleasing performance. And mistakes do happen. Oh goodness, just two years ago one of my tracks stopped playing halfway through the song but…the show must go on. It wasn’t ideal, but I recovered and moved on.
“I always pray for God to allow me to deliver a performance that is pleasing to him. I do try to place God first. My faith is my strength. I can definitely not envision a time in my life when I would stop singing. Singing and music are in my DNA.”
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