With Somebody’s Gonna Pay, her debut project for eOne Music Nashville, Mickie James has set out to carve a new path for herself. An entertainer and athlete since childhood, the TNA Impact professional wrestling star - a multi-time world champion - has spent the last decade as part of some of the biggest pro wrestling organizations in the world. But now she’s using a microphone to rev up concert crowds rather than run down wrestling opponents, taking on the music world full-force.
“I recognized the fact that I’m starting from square one, all over again,” Mickie says. “And I kinda want to keep those two worlds separate because I want my music career to be taken seriously, and not just ‘Hey, it’s that girl that wrestles!’
“This is something I’d always wanted to do, and I’ve never held back on anything I’d been dead set on doing in my life,” she continues. “I feel like that passion and that drive is what really molds you as a person of character, and people connect with that. It’s not necessarily something you can teach, you either have it or you’re scared of it.”
Listeners can connect with that passion and drive from the very first notes of Somebody’s Gonna Pay’s title track. Produced by hitmaker R.S. Field (Alison Moorer, Todd Snider, The Fabulous Thunderbirds and many more), the Jamie Hartford-penned tune showcases Mickie’s high-energy style, something she’s honed not only in the ring, but also via recent performances opening for the likes of Gretchen Wilson, Randy Houser and Montgomery Gentry.
Mickie also shot an accompanying music video for the title cut, teaming with director Blake Judd and featuring Mickie’s fellow wrestling personalities Trish Stratus and Nick Aldis, TNA Impact's Magnus.
“There are a ton of parallels as far as your confidence and your ability to be able to tell a story, both within wrestling and within music,” Mickie says. “With wrestling, you’re running on raw passion and adrenaline. With music, your emotions are more present and your heart goes more into it.
“Making people feel something, whether it’s what I’m doing in the ring or on the stage - that’s what you’re looking for at the end of the day.”
The album, produced by Field and Jamie Lee Thurston, highlights the energy Mickie brings to songs like “Best Damn Night” (which Mickie co-wrote with Thurston and Porter Howell of Little Texas fame) and “A Good Time,” (written by Bridgette Tatum) as well as the emotion found on ballads like “If I Can’t Be Me” and “Hurts Don’t It.” (penned by Kerry Kurt Phillips.) In fact, some of Music Row’s best writers have contributed to the album, including Rivers Rutherford, Tom Shapiro, the Civil Wars’ John Paul White, Odie Blackmon and Craig Wiseman.
Peeling back the layers of emotion for quieter songs wasn’t a challenge for Mickie in the studio, but she knows the consequences of ballads in her repertoire and is ready for what their live performances will bring.
“The ballads are always scary, because you’re really putting yourself out there,” Mickie says. “When you’re singing the rockers, everybody’s partying and having a good time. When you start the ballads, everybody gets quiet and starts listening, so they’re definitely more scary to do.”
But it’s just another day at the office for the spunky Virginia native, who grew up both playing the violin and riding horses, and now makes her impact entertaining thousands at live events and millions on global television. Mickie James is grateful for the learning process Somebody’s Gonna Pay has provided, and is ready to unleash it on the world.
“I’ve been very blessed to have done a lot of things, and to learn a lot from a bunch of amazing people along the way,” Mickie says. “And it’s opened my eyes as to how big this world really is, and how nothing is unattainable if you set your sights on it. If you truly want something, then go after it!
“So many times, people told me, ‘You’ll never make it in wrestling, you’re too little, you’re from a small town,’ but all of those ‘no’s’ should only fuel your fire more.
“I have a lot more respect for the world of music now, learning the process and the reasoning behind why you pick every song and why you write a certain way,” she says. “I’m excited to get out there and perform and share my music and get in front of people. I’m just excited to kick ass and hope people love it.”