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Melonie Cannon fires away

By Dan MacIntosh, October 2004

Page 2...

After being given an honorable discharge, she came home and began to work with her dad. But instead of jumping right into the limelight, Cannon began her career in the nuts-and-bolts behind the scene world.

"He (Buddy) asked me if I would come in and just help him in his office, listening to songs and helping him pick some of this stuff," she remembers. "So I came in as the sort of receptionist/song plugger/A&R person. I got a little bit overwhelmed because I was doing demo sessions in between and singing on records here and there. I had a lot going. I had my first child at that time. I had a lot on my plate. So I kind of asked him if I could kind of back out of part of it. And so I really started focusing on the A&R side of it. I just went and listened to the songs for the artists he was working with, which were Kenny (Chesney), Chely Wright and Sammy Kershaw."

"I think that really helped me get in tune with what great songs really were. I think that (recognizing good songs) is probably just a little bit in my blood from my daddy. I think that period of time helped me really pick the good from the bad. I think it's really been a great stepping-stone to this (performing) side of my career because I know how that side of it works. I've viewed it at all angles, and now I finally get to do this artist thing, and it's really a special moment in my life. It's like I'm really stepping out of the shadow and into the spotlight."

Chances are, however, it will take a little while before Cannon can completely separate herself from the large shadow cast by her dad. And while she is expected to talk a lot about Buddy during interviews, her mom, Billie - who is rarely ever mentioned in the press - is just as vital to her success.

"Mom is where I get my talking from," she only half kids. "I could talk to the wall. That's what I always tell everybody. I could probably sit and talk by myself for hours. She (mom) is the rock of our family. She obviously stayed married to my dad through a lot of hard times, (and) a lot of times with no money and him not being there and him being gone. And as a kid, it's kind of funny because she sheltered us from all of it. I didn't really know...it was never spoken to me that my father was an alcoholic until I was 15. And she hid it from me all those years - from me and my sisters. My older sisters knew more and kind of remember more. But I really don't. I was kind of sheltered from it. But I think that's given me the opportunity to love my dad in a way that maybe I wouldn't have been able to, if I really would have known what was going on. It it's all because of her being that shelter for me and that rock."

Unlike her dad and her sisters, Cannon's mom is not musically inclined.

"No, not at all," Cannon states emphatically. "Daddy used to tell her that he'd go to church with her, but he wouldn't sit by her if she sang. She doesn't sing at all, but I'll tell you what, she's one of the most intuitive people I've ever met when it comes to people in general. Whether she knows it or not, she does help me make choices. She helped me make my choice with my manager. She helps me with my children."

Cannon is on Ricky Skaggs' label, and the esteemed bluegrass musician, Ronnie Bowman, also helped produce her album. But she's quick to point out that her music is not strictly bluegrass - even though it is a whole lot purer than much of what tries to pass itself off as country music these days.

"Bluegrass is a different world," Cannon explains. "I think what I've done is I've brought what I grew up with and what I'd learned as a teenager and brought those two worlds together and kind of just made my own little thing. People are going to call it what they want to call it. I just call it music. It's acoustic music, if anything. People are classifying it as bluegrass, and Americana and country and all this stuff. But it's influenced by artists of all different genres, such as Bonnie Raitt and Emmylou Harris. I listen to everything."

It makes little difference how you label Cannon's music - or even how you spell her first name, for that matter - because what she creates is simply the good stuff.

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