WWE Wrestling Diva Mickie James Embarks On Country Music Career
What is the next step for a WWE superstar diva that’s pretty much won—and done—it all? Well, for six-time champ Mickie James, the answer would be country music, of course.
When she’s not giving her opponent a signature “Long Kiss Goodnight” (a reverse roundhouse kick to the skull), James is writing songs and singing. Her first single “Are You With Me?” was released to radio on February 16.
The 9513 sat down with James at CRS to talk about her music, becoming an artist, and about which female country star could give her trouble in the ring.
PIERCE GREENBERG: I’ve got to start it off with this one: What are some of the similarities between professional wrestling and country music?
MICKIE JAMES: I think the energy from the fans and from the crowd—you feed off of that and the performance. I’m performer and an entertainer, so you have to be able to perform. It’s a lot pressure to perform live in front of an audience, because you get one chance to mess up or get it right. You either nail it out of the park or drop the ball kind of deal. That’s a lot of pressure so you have to have a strong will in order to do that.
PG: On a personal level, do you find it difficult to disassociate yourself from WWE? Is that something you try to do?
MJ: I do want to keep them separate but I think one hand feeds the other. I worked really long and hard to get at the top of my game at wrestling, so I can’t deny that, it’s part of who I am. But why not embrace it? It’s part of who I am and what I do and there’s a huge fan base there of my fans and they are all really excited about this adventure for me. I’d like for them to share the journey with me.
PG: What lead to this change or this idea of becoming a country artist?
I’ve always wanted to sing, ever since I was a little girl. I’ve always loved music and had a deep passion for music. We travel a lot. We’re on the road 250 days a year and I write a lot. I would always write short stories and poetry and stuff—especially on those long plane rides overseas and stuff. So, I was writing and I ended up working with some artists in Richmond to turn these lyrics and melody in my head into actual music. Through there, that’s how I met my manager, Sherry.
I was already toying with the idea, but it was one of those things where we’re already touring 250 days out of the year, where am I gonna find time to do this? I really want to, and if you have enough passion to do something you find a way to do it.
I was driving to the gym one day, and this song popped into my head and I pulled over and I wrote it in like five minutes. I sat on it for about a week because I thought God doesn’t just throw these kind of things in your pathway without a reason for it. I called my manager Sherry up and said “Let’s do it!” and the journey started.
PG: You’re really a household name for WWE fans, and I’m sure that took hard work to get to that point. Why start all over from the bottom to try and make it as a country singer?
MJ: I don’t know. Why not? I’m always up for a challenge and I like to challenge myself. When I first debuted with WWE, I just started going back to college. The day I debuted was my first day of college. The first two and a half years, I was doing double duty then. I was going to school full-time and I was on the road full-time.
I think it’s important to challenge yourself and constantly set the bar higher. With music, it’s always been a passion of mine. It’s always been something I wanted to do. The difference between it is that you’re so vulnerable on stage because in the ring, it’s like a dance. You’re performing, you’re feeding off the energy of the crowd, but it’s totally driven by raw passion. Whereas, this is a part of your heart and your soul and you’re very vulnerable because it’s just you and a microphone sometimes.
It’s just you up there, you’re giving it your all, and you’re giving a piece of yourself. I think it’s just a way for me to give my fans a piece of me that they wouldn’t necessarily know—a deeper side of me. What you get on the screen is this butt-kicking girl that kicks tail every Friday night, so this is a little softer side, a little different side of me.
PG: Speaking of your fans, do you think there’s a lot of crossover between WWE fans and country music fans?
MJ: Oh yeah. I think the same rings true for NASCAR and country fans. Our demographic is very similar. I know that there are tons of country fans that are wrestling fans and tons of wrestling fans that love country music. So, I definitely think so.
PG: In a historical/societal sense, I feel like over the past ten/twenty years a lot has happened that would really allow a female pro wrestler to make a transition to the country market. You’ve got these perceived “rougher” female artists like Gretchen Wilson and Miranda Lambert that weren’t around in the 90s. What are your thoughts on that?
MJ: I think just as a society, women have grown and taken things on their own, even just in cultural development. They are CEOs of companies, they are ruling the world, whereas 10-15 years ago, that wasn’t the case. They were secretaries—and now they’re top execs in organizations. So, I think that’s just the evolution of society.
Women are free-thinkers and independent and just as tough as any man in the world. We’re just as impactful and ready for competition.
I think with the single, it’s been compared to Gretchen. You have to respect anyone and everyone who paved the way for yourself and I think that’s awesome.I think if you listen to the project as a whole, it’s pretty well-rounded. There’s butt-kicking songs, then there’s the vulnerable songs, the love songs, sweet songs, angry songs, so I feel like I’m more in the middle somewhere. Like somewhere between Shania and Tanya… if they were to have a baby… (laughing).
PG: Can you more go in-depth on how you would describe your album, musically?
MJ: I co-wrote three songs on the album. Two of the songs I co-wrote with Brad Wolf and Don Goodman here in Nashville, and then another song I wrote back home in Virginia with Tommy Wood, who is an up-and-coming artist. So yeah, it’s a little bit of everything. The single, I felt like it was the best song. It is a crossover so I wanted to do something that was going to attack both fans and really draw them in. And it’ll be spring and summer and everyone likes a good party song in the summer.
Whatever your preference of what kind of songs you relate to, I feel like it’s really going to connect with everyone on some level.
PG: If you had a chance to play or sing one song off that album to really win a fan over, which song would it be and why?
MJ: That’s a tough one. I can only pick one? I think I would pick “Hollywood Movie Moment” just because it’s a true story. I wrote it and it’s about my ex-fiancé. Every great song takes you back to a certain place in your life. It was the day I found out he was cheating. So it was about being strong and leaving and it’s really sassy. I like it. That would be the one.
PG: Why should people really take you seriously as a country artist?
MJ: Because I’m really passionate about it and I’m putting my heart and soul on the line here. I don’t have any expectations, and everyone has the free will to think and feel however they want about it and that’s OK, but I really hope that they have an open mind. I hope they don’t just use the “oh, she’s a wrestler” because I believe you can have more than one passion in life. You can do more than one thing. The only limitations we have our within ourselves, so hopefully society will feel the same way and accept me with open arms.
PG: At the end of your entertainment career, whether that be a music career or wrestling career—what do you hope that people remember about Mickie James?
MJ: That I’m real. What you see is what you get. I don’t try to put on this phony image of like this is who I am, or this is like some image. I’m just the girl next door, and at the end of the day, I’m just Mickie James. These are just accomplishments in my life that help make me who I am. You can have whatever you want in your life if you really strive for it.
PG: Alright, I want to end on a light note here. If you can pick one female country artist past or present, that you think could give you a decent run in the ring, who would it be?
MJ: (laughs) Probably Reba. A fiery redhead—she’d probably kick my butt actually. She seems tough. Maybe Reba. I don’t know if I could take her or not.
PG: Just because she’s Reba?
MJ: Just because she’s an entertainer, she’s a performer, she’s an artist and she’s got so much sass and I really appreciate that.
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