Tonya Mitchell grew up in the small rural town of Huron, Tennessee. With a population of less than 2,000 people, no serious opportunities seemed within reach for an aspiring singer, but that did not stop Tonya's parents from trying anyway.
Tonya's parents noticed her talent at a very young age. By the time Tonya was seven years old, she was recording at Barbara Mandrell's studio and making quite a few public appearances. "We didn't have a lot of money, but my parents sacrificed and spent every last penny they had to make sure I had opportunities to be discovered." she says. Her father, having some local fame himself, really gave life to Tonya's dream. Cowboy Louie worked as a magician, touring schools all over the Mid-South. He also worked at Loretta Lynn's Ranch for many years. "Tonya would accompany Louie on his tours and at the Ranch. Any chance they got to perform, they were there. They were a team." says Tonya's mother.
One April day in 1998 - Tonya had a show to benefit St. Jude's Hospital. Suffering from a nasty cold, Tonya almost cancelled. Having never cancelled a show before, she wasn't going to start now. It was important for Tonya to support such a great cause. This decision would change her life forever. After performing, Tonya and her parents were approached by a man by the name of Bill Bomar. He told them how much he loved her voice and then proceeded to tell them about his daughter and her new management company. He then began to talk about his grandson and how successful he was as a singer overseas. His grandson would turn out to be one of the biggest superstars of our time - Justin Timberlake. *NSYNC was not known well in America at this time, so all Tonya and her parents could say was; "Justin, who?"
Tonya's father, Cowboy Louie and Bill Bomar quickly became great friends. "They talked on the phone a lot about me and my career. My dad loved him to death - they were so much alike. Both of them believed in me to the ends of the earth. My dad had someone to share his passion with, someone who believed in me as much as he did." says Tonya.
A year passed and Tonya signed with Just In Time Management. She soon scored a record deal with Motown/Universal records in 1999. By the year 2000 Tonya was traveling all over the country, recording her debut album. In 2001, Tonya's dreams were finally a reality! She released her album titled "I Represent" on April 10th and dedicated it to Mr. Bill Bomar. Tonya's hit single "Broken Promises" reached #17 on the ARC weekly chart, #38 on BILLBOARD Pop chart and even made its appearance the on the Rick Dees and Casey Kasem Top 40 countdowns, but the best was yet to come!
After spending months on a radio tour, Tonya got the opportunity of a lifetime. She snagged a spot on the *NSYNC Pop Odyssey stadium tour - performing in front of her biggest audience yet, 50,000 + people while still continuing her radio tour. "Things did not seem like they could get any better. I was on top of the world! I remember Father's Day 2001. My dad came on tour with me and I wished him a Happy Father's Day in front of all those people. The proud look on his face as he stood and waved is something I will never forget. Everything we had worked so hard for was really happening and he was here seeing it and sharing this moment with me!" she says.
As Tonya's part of the Pop Odyssey tour came to an end, so did her dreams. One month after Tonya's father accompanied her on tour, he passed away. Shortly after losing her father, Tonya lost her record deal and was dropped from her management company. "It's amazing how things seem like they can't get any better and then in a blink of an eye, they can't seem to get any worse" she says. Tonya decided to step away from the music scene for a while. She tried pursuing her dreams again a few years later but no major doors ever opened for her. "I am a firm believer in everything happens for a reason. I have never given up. I have a framed picture that my dad autographed to me when I was younger. It says I will be a big star some day. I look at that picture for inspiration every day." she says.
In 2012, Bill Bomar - the man that discovered Tonya passed away. After reconnecting with her second family, Tonya's spark for music really ignited. This inspired Tonya to pursue her dreams and work extra hard for herself, her father and Bill. "The two people who believed in me the most are now watching me together from Heaven. It means a lot to me to keep trying" she says. After being knocked down and having faced unimaginable obstacles, Tonya is back and better than ever.