Passion is evident from the very first note, and her considerable talent allows her to segue from whisper-quiet reflections to barn-burnin’ romps with ease. Hickman’s in control and loving it – and she proves it on her debut country CD, SUSAN HICKMAN.
With her new CD, Susan is not only sharing her love of music – she’s hoping to connect with a global audience. “I really identify with the songs on this project,” Susan says from her home in Atascocita, Texas. “And I think that a lot of other folks will, too.” Produced by Doug Deforest (Todd Fritsch, Doug Spartz, Jonathan Edwards), the disc is the perfect showcase for Susan’s fresh and vibrant vocals. Highlights abound and include songs by top-notch Nashville tunesmiths Brett James, Mila Mason, Bobby Pinson and others. “Red” is a dark tale of jealousy and rage, while the two-steppin’ fun-loving, “Wrapped Up In Me” offers a light-hearted change of pace. The contemporary ballad “Hell Still Ain’t Frozen Over” works well with Susan’s favorite, the poignant “One Of Those Who Make It Up There.” Closing the disc is Hickman’s soulful take on Gregg Allman’s classic southern rocker, “Whipping Post.”
The 25-year old beauty is not without credentials; over the past few years she has elevated her status, sharing the stage with high-profile acts Miranda Lambert, Jo Dee Messina, Kevin Fowler, The Lost Trailers and Phil Vassar. This year has been a pivotal one for Susan. She was named to the CMA Close Up Who New To Watch In 2010 list and participated in her first CMA Music Festival. Susan has also enjoyed media coverage in COUNTRY WEEKLY, DREAMWEST, MUSIC ROW, and a host of other print and online publications. Hickman’s live shows are energetic, and her music has allowed her to develop quite a following in the U.S. and abroad. In March, Susan made her European debut, entertaining audiences in Germany, Holland and Switzerland. In July, she’ll cross the pond again to perform at the 23rd Annual Country Rendez-Vous Festival in Craponne-sur-Arzon, France. “I love meeting the folks who are into my music,” Susan admits. “But singing on the big stage – no matter where that is, is when I feel a true connection with the audience.”
Music has always been a part of the feisty blonde’s life story; she started taking piano lessons when she was just five years old and added the violin in her teens. Just four years ago she began to teach herself guitar. “Yes, I’m blessed to come from a very musical family,” she laughs. “We were always singing and playing; our family reunions are just awesome.”
Susan grew up singing in the church choir, listening to her parents’ favorite classic rock songs, and hearing her mom sing opera around the house. Her mother often made up songs to get her two daughters motivated. “There was literally a song for everything,” Susan recalls. “Gonna clean house today? Yep, she had just the song to put you in the mood.”
That musical backdrop helped drive the Texan’s love of song, and according to her parents, the exposure began when Susan was still in the cradle. Family legend tells us that Hickman was actually singing before she started talking. “Crazy, right?” Susan laughs. “Well, some things never change.”
Another thing that hasn’t changed is this songbird’s precociousness. When she was just 12-years old, Susan cold-called a talent agency and scheduled an audition. Why? “My mom told me I’d have to convince her that I was sure I wanted a career in music before she’d let me pursue it,” Susan recalls. “Making that call was my way of showing her that I was serious. She’s been behind me every step of the way, ever since.”
While that first phone call didn’t lead to instant stardom, it did give Hickman an insider’s look at the industry – and helped prepare her for the work ahead. Her life, she says, has been focused on a career in entertaining ever since.
Susan is the human equivalent of a perpetual motion “machine” – and she now divides her time between live performances, songwriting, rehearsals and her web design work. “I’m always busy,” Susan confides with a laugh. “But I’m also pretty much happy all the time. I promised myself that my ‘job’ would be something I loved. Music is it.”
Another promise the aspiring star made was to never compromise herself or her music. “I’ve always said that if I tell you something, it’s the truth. For me, if it’s even possible, when I sing something – it’s even truer,” Susan states. Her moral compass leads her in everything from song choices to venue selections – and she is steadfast in her beliefs.
While Hickman was raised in Houston, her childhood years were imbued with a “small town” feel. “My little sister was – and is – my closest friend,” Hickman states. The two shared a childhood filled with secret, homemade slip ‘n slide adventures (indoors no less) and late night television marathons watching old westerns. It was an idyllic life in many ways, and one that Hickman is determined to emulate.
Kids? “Yeah, someday,” she says with a smile. In the meantime, she’s performing every chance she gets. “I love the energy of the crowd,” says Susan. “It’s really powerful when the audience relates to you and your music.” This young artist is driven to make those connections. Combine her talent with that passion – and you have the magic that is Susan Hickman.