That is where Mickey Utley is from. The singer grew up not far from Brownsville and Nutbush, the hometown of the legendary Tina Turner. “She grew up right down the road,” said Utley. “My band is based there. We’ve been travelling for about six or seven years now. We’re still cranking out the songs, and doing what we do.”
And, what he does is some very fine music that brings all the ingredients of the area’s musical offerings and melts them into one sound-----which Utley said is definitely a blend. “It’s definitely a soulful sound,” he admits. “It’s not just straight-ahead country. Being between Memphis and Nashville, it’s very much a mixture. ‘Soul-Billy’ is what we want to call it.” That recipe was apparent to Utley from an early age. “Our tight knit home was in the country and filled with lots of love,” recalls Mickey. “We loved to sit around and play records and listen to my dad play the guitar.” His parents introduced him to a wide variety of music during his impressionable younger years. “Mama liked country and Daddy liked rock-n-roll,” remembers Mickey, noting how their influence carved out an indelible impact on his sound today.
“It is a different sound. That’s why I’m excited about this new album. In the years prior, I’ve been doing stuff from other writers, but now I’m getting the chance to work with Norro Wilson, who’s been writing and producing for years. He wrote “The Grand Tour” for George Jones and “The Most Beautiful Girl” for Charlie Rich. It’s just a fresh and exciting time for me. I’ve got a new label, new management. I’m just ready to get out there."
Utley’s most recent single at radio, “Cry Like Memphis,” has garnered solid airplay and much critical acclaim for the singer. “It’s been done before,” he says of the track, but says “It’s a great song. It was one of the last choices for the album. I was going to put something on there that I had written. It was sent to be about 4am, and the e-mail said ‘You need to listen to this. So, we did, and we cut it.”
That track appears on his CD TIL’ OUR HATS FLOAT. The album is a great collection full of lively toe-tappers and poignant ballads, such as the bluesy “Once Upon A Time.” He’s already hard at work on his next project.
“We’ve got a brand new single out right now called “I’m Feelin’ You.” Actually, we’re doing a brand new album. “Play That Funky Country Music” is going to be released to dance clubs, and not radio. It’s kind of a parody. We’ll cut the rest of the album later this year.”
Utley hopes that one day his name can be mentioned alongside of the other two musical exports from Haywood County----Turner, of course, and prolific tunesmith Alex Harvey, who has written for such superstars as Tanya Tucker, Billy Ray Cyrus, and has contributed many works to Kenny Rogers’ early albums over the years—including the unknown classic “King Of Oak Street,” which appeared on Rogers’ 1978 The Gambler. He wouldn’t mind being compared to Harvey for a minute!
“He’s from Haywood County, and I’m really proud of him. He’s been there for years. He’s also done some acting. All the stuff from his songs, like ‘Delta Dawn,’ and ‘Oak Street’ is true. Every corner in town has a story. That’s real writing. Everybody knows everybody.
“I’ve been stepping in front of crowds for years, ever since I was old enough to bang on a drum set,” says Mickey. “I’ve never felt more excited about a project as I do with this one. I think I’ve truly pushed myself to new heights.”
You can get more info on Mickey Utley by visiting his website.