Mitch Goudy: Fairfield’s rising star
Fairfield High School alumnus Mitch Goudy is living the dream.
At just 19 years of age, Goudy has become a household name in the country music world. He just finished a national radio tour to promote his upcoming album, “Wild,” and is about to hit the road again for more radio interviews and performances. He was recently named to the Country Music Association’s list of “Who new to watch in 2014.” Digital Journal listed him among its “Top 10 Male Country Singers to Watch in 2014.”
Goudy’s local fans will have a chance to see him perform Friday night when he sings at the Bridge View Center in Ottumwa. The concert starts at 7 p.m. in the Wapello County 4-H Expo building.
During one of his radio interviews, the host began calling the young Fairfield musician “Rowdy Goudy.” Goudy liked the nickname so much he decided to keep it and use it in his marketing, albeit with his own unique spelling of the word, “Rowdie Goudy.” Goudy’s fans are known affectionately as “rowdies.”
Not only does Goudy sing, he plays guitar, piano, drums and bass. And his talents are not limited to performing. He has become well acquainted with the back-stage, behind-the-scenes part of the business, too. He wrote 12 of the 13 tracks on his upcoming album, and he has begun to produce his own music as well.
“Song-writing involves creating the melodies and the lyrics,” he said. “Producing the music involves making all the parts sound the way they’re supposed to in a studio recording.”
Goudy receives a helping hand in the studio from his co-producer and manager Justin Hill. Hill was responsible for honing Goudy’s musical skills when the young man was still in high school and learning the ropes.
The Fairfield native has coveted the spotlight for as long as he was old enough to stand in it. He sang in his fourth grade talent show, and for a while hoped to pursue both music and sports. In middle school, he dreamed of becoming a professional soccer or basketball player, but an injury to his knee dashed those hopes.
“The doctor told me I couldn’t play hard, so I knew being a professional athlete was no longer an option,” he said. “For awhile, I had to lie on the couch because my knee was so sore. I passed the time by playing my favorite songs and my sisters’ favorite songs on the guitar.”
By the time he was in high school, Goudy had set ambitious goals for himself.
“I told my choir director [Zach Reiter] that I wanted to be the biggest country artist in the world,” he said. “I told him I needed some professional training. He said, ‘OK. We can get this done.’”
Reiter gave Goudy a list of vocal coaches in the area. Goudy wanted to go to a coach close to home. One of the coaches on Reiter’s list was Hill, who had a production company in Bloomfield. Reiter told Goudy Hill was a professional but he lived 45 minutes away, and suggested Goudy call a person in Fairfield whose name was listed below Hill’s.
As luck would have it, Goudy accidentally called Hill’s number when tried to dial the number below his. He decided to talk to Hill anyway, and asked him if he would teach him how to sing. Hill told Goudy he has a two-year waiting list for artists wanting to record, but he offered to give Goudy a chance and invited him to his studio.
“I took advantage of any opportunity I had to play, so I thought I’d go to Bloomfield to play a song for them,” Goudy said. “He was hard on me. He said, ‘Why don’t you come back when you can sing.’”
Far from hurting his pride, Hill’s comment lit a fire under Goudy, who was glad to hear someone level with him and challenge him to improve.
“I was very cocky about being the best singer in the world,” he said. “He did that to me as a test to see if I could get through it. He told me to come back in two weeks and have a few songs ready. I practiced relentlessly for those two weeks.”
Hill began working with Goudy on a regular basis. He gave the young singer homework assignments that involved learning new music. One week, Goudy didn’t do his assignment.
“He just walked out and told me to go home,” Goudy said. “He wasn’t joking. I went home and he sent me a text telling me to do this and that for the next week. I did double what he asked.”
Hill’s recording company is called “Third Floor Records,” where Goudy spent many afternoons during high school. Goudy said he would start recording in the studio around 8 p.m. and go late into the night, and have to get up the next day in time for the 8 a.m. school bell. On the weekends, he was playing concerts or DJing dances, a business he started in seventh grade.
“I started to DJ middle school dances, and then I moved into weddings and proms,” he said. “If I wasn’t DJing, I was playing a show pretty much every weekend.”
Music came to consume Goudy’s life when he was a junior. Any free time he had was devoted to writing, rehearsing or recording. To many, that would seem like a lot of work, but not to Goudy.
“I don’t believe this is work,” he said. “Work has a stigma that it’s not fun, but what I was doing was what I loved to do. When I’m in the studio, I don’t think I’m working. I think about getting to be with other musicians.”
Goudy said he owes Hill a debt of gratitude for helping him take the next step in his musical career. He said Hill didn’t change who he was as a singer; he just helped him put his priorities in order.
“He took a young 16-year-old guy who wanted to be the next Garth Brooks and pushed me to achieve my goals,” Goudy said. “He was the key to getting me into Nashville and meeting the right people.”
Many country artists move to Nashville to record their music and rub shoulders with big wigs in the industry. Goudy has spent some time in the Tennessee town, too, but decided to record his music in Iowa with local musicians. He said his fans notice there’s something different about his music – that it doesn’t sound like anything else they’ve heard.
Some of Goudy’s recent work include songs such as “Blow These Speakers Out,” “My Girl’s Hand,” “Dark Red” and “Ain’t My Fault,” which will be featured in a music video that will be released soon. Goudy went to Bowling Green, Kentucky to film the video, which he said was a blast.
“The song is about how you start acting crazy when you fall in love with someone,” he said. “In the video, I pull up in this drift car to a girl I like, and she turns me down, so I start showing off and doing weird things like blowing her kisses. My rowdy side started coming out in that drift car.”
Goudy, the son of Joe and Diane Goudy, said he is thankful to his hometown music teachers, Reiter and band instructor Jim Edgeton, for inspiring him to achieve his goals, and for being flexible instructors who knew he had a lot on his plate in the evenings.
To learn more about Goudy, visit his webpage at www.mitchgoudy.com.