#47: Baptist Parking Lot – Country Music Singer Songwriter Mary Heather Hickman

Thursday February 17, 2022

For this episode host Fran Racioppi leapt down to Music City to spend the day with up and coming recording artist Mary Heather Hickman at the famed RCA Studios. Mary Heather hit the iTunes Country Top 10 with her don’t mess with Texas style. She has opened for Toby Keith, Eli Young and Hank Williams Jr. She has played at ATT Stadium so naturally Fran challenged her to describe her mentors and role models; and also explain what happened to the Cowboys this year!

Mary Heather not only shared her story and her lessons on building a career in country music, but she gave our team a solo concert including a sneak peak of an upcoming yet-to-be released track and her newest hit Baptist Parking Lot, which hit radio on February 14. Take a listen to our conversation and stay tuned until the end to hear for yourself.

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About Mary Heather Hickman

TJP 47 | Country Singer SongwriterSinger/songwriter Mary Heather Hickman has a classic country sound delivered with an unaffected style and emotional acuity which is honest, unflinching and gritty.  An experienced performer and gifted songwriter at 26 years old, her dulcet voice highlights the irony, double entendres and spirited resilience at the heart of her songs. Mary Heather’s southern roots run deep throughout her sassy, irreverent, “Don’t mess with Texas” songwriting style .

Born in El Dorado, AR and raised in Frisco, TX (just outside of Dallas), Mary Heather had a love of singing and songwriting from a very early age.  At the age of 10 she started performing at Opry houses and festivals around Texas and has appeared at numerous Dallas Cowboys football games and special events.  After graduating from High School, she was chosen to be a contestant on Season 6 of NBC’s hit show “The Voice.”

Mary Heather moved to Fayetteville to attend the University of Arkansas where she earned a degree in Communications.  While attending college, she regularly played gigs across Arkansas and Texas, building up a following and a reputation as an artist to watch and was nominated for an Arkansas Country Music Association Award (ACMA) in 2019. In 2018, Mary Heather moved to Nashville to pursue her musical career.  Focusing on writing, collaborating and performing in Nashville’s infamous artist community has challenged, inspired and, ultimately, facilitated her growth into a songwriter to be reckoned with.

Her newest single, Baptist Parking Lot impacted radio on February 14 and launches on CMT February 18. She has recently been nominated for three more Arkansas Music Awards.

Baptist Parking Lot – Country Music Singer Songwriter Mary Heather Hickman

Country music is full of megastars like Shania Twain, Toby Keith, Brooks & Dunn, and Carrie Underwood. Every multi-platinum recording artist began their journey with one song. She took a leap of faith, moved to Nashville, and hit the Broadway Live music scene to earn a spot on Music Row. For this episode, I left down the Music City to spend the day with up-and-coming recording artist Mary Heather Hickman.

We met at the famed RCA Studios and recorded our conversation in the rooms that built Elvis, Wayland, Dolly, and Merle. Mary Heather is an impressive young singer-songwriter who has rapidly shown the country scene that the next generation of leaders is ready to take the guitar. Her tracks, Treasure and Baptist Parking Lot, have both gone viral, earning hundreds of thousands of downloads and millions of views on social media.

She was a fellow Communication Major from Alabama. Mary Heather and I discuss her entry into country music, her road to Nashville, her process for writing from the heart, the daily grind of watching your music career come to fruition by spending nights, working at the restaurant to pay the bills, and her battle with diabetes. Mary Heather hit the iTunes Country Top Ten with Don’t Mess with Texas style. She’s open for Toby Keith, Eli Young, and Hank Williams, Jr. She’s played at the AT&T Stadium.

I challenged her to describe her mentors and role models and also explain what happened in the Cowboys. Mary Heather not only shared her story and lessons on building a career in country music but she gave my team and me a solo concert, including a sneak peek of an upcoming get to be released track and her newest hit, Baptist Parking Lot, which hit radio on February 14th. Take a read to our conversation.

Mary Heather, welcome to the show.

Thank you so much for having me.

We are on location in Nashville. We are at the famed RCA Studios on Music Row, and we have a crowd. We had a small crowd for the Travis Hollman episode but not like this. We have Wes Mayers from Redline, your Manager. We have Jenny, our Marketing Coordinator, who came down to keep us on track. Emily Sandberg Gold is in the building, the legendary star of episode five on the show. It’s so close to everything we do here. It is an honor to sit here with you.

It’s an honor to be here. I’m so thankful that you asked me to be on this show. I have been looking forward to it.

When I came to the team with this episode, everybody jumped in. It was immediate. It was like, “You have to do this.” We had no choice because we spent a lot of time on the show, talking about leaders who had already achieved so much. A lot of them are in the middle or have been on the back end of their career.

Host Fran Racioppi and Mary Heather Hickman discuss…

We have not shared that many stories of the people who are on the front end, the next generation of leaders, the ones who have read some of our previous episodes and said, “I’m going to apply this to what I’m doing. I want to grow, do better, and be a stronger individual team and organization.” Those who read our episode regularly also know that I love country music, even though I’m from Boston.

We welcome you with open arms here in the country music world. Country music is for everybody.

[bctt tweet=”A common theme in country music is that they tell stories or they’re a start to finish thing. It’s like a whole experience in a song.” username=”talentwargroup”]

There were two things that I took away from my time in the military very early on that I didn’t know because I grew up in New England. I never knew what country music was. It used to be called country and Western. The other was NASCAR.

I have picked up some NASCAR. I don’t know anything about it but I enjoy going to the races. It’s exciting and fast-paced. What’s not to love?

Let’s talk about you for a while. Top Ten on the iTunes Country charts, hundreds of thousands of streams to your songs, millions of views on social media, your newest single, Baptist Parking Lot, is going to radio. For everyone reading, they can check it out. It’s going to be out. You still work in a restaurant to make ends meet. You still call your parents every day. Your Christmas wish is to still win a CMA. There’s so much that’s still grounding you and so far to go. You told me that you had been nominated for a series of Arkansas Music Awards.

I was lucky enough. I found out that I was nominated for three different Arkansas Country Music Awards, which is a big honor because it’s my home state. That’s exciting.

Congratulations. I can’t wait for the follow-up. We are going to talk about what happened on the back end of those. When we talk about vision, character, and the drive to win no matter the challenge, this building is full of that.

It feels magical every time I’m in the RCA Building, knowing the people that have been here before.

You were born in El Dorado, Arkansas. You moved to Texas at 5, and by 10, you played in small opries across Texas. Music affects us all in so many different ways. Why were you initially drawn to music?

I might have liked the attention to start with. I was the firstborn. I grew up listening to country music. Both my parents are country music lovers. That’s all we listen to, maybe a little bit of Classic Rock here and there, too. The big stuff I remember listening to in the car was Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Merle Haggard.

What initially drew me to country music was listening to The Dixie Chicks, Wide Open Spaces album. I remember my mom having that CD playing in the car and asking her every time the CD went in, “Can we start it over?” particularly the song I Can Love You Better. I was little at the time and could sing all the words. Being around that influences me. I loved being in front of people. I loved getting up on the fireplace at Christmas and performing for all of my family.

It wasn’t until I did a talent show in fourth grade that my parents realized I had some talent. It was when they saw the comparison of me to the other kids my age. It was not a great performance but I was able to get up and sing all the words and be pretty on key. That was when they started putting me in the opries. They never forced me to do it. I loved it. It was a fire that was lit under me, and I always wanted to be on stage.

TJP 47 | Country Singer Songwriter

Mary Heather Hickman’s recent singles Baptist Parking Lot, Ouachita River and Treasure.

Singing comes naturally but musical instruments are something you have had to work at, and you play a variety of them.

I can play a little guitar and piano but I would never call myself a guitarist or a pianist. I play enough to accompany myself and get by but it’s something I have to work at. It doesn’t come naturally the way that singing and songwriting always have.

You are still working on it to this day. You posted about it.

I try to practice. Even with guitar, I hate doing bar chords but I try to force myself to. If I’m writing a song with somebody and they were like, “A bar chord would sound good here,” I’m like, “What is it?” I try to practice and learn it because you should always be trying to get better.



In episode 24, we spoke with Lauryn Snapp about the power of country music. Lauryn Snapp was on Country Music Television, the nighttime radio show with Cody Alan. It was an honor to have her on. They ended up winning a CMA for the show. She has her own show called on PopCrush. Lauryn said that, “Country music is not only a genre of music but it is a human genre.”

She described that there’s no script for country music. There’s no how-to book on what an artist has to look at and what they have to talk about the story they have to tell. In country, you can lose everything. You can be the best tequila drinker. Men drink whiskey, and horses drink beer. You can live forever, die a lonely death, be a cowboy, get the girl, and forget your last name. You can pick up trash and call it a treasure, which you might know something about.

Unfortunately, I know way too much about that.

The stories are endless. Many of them are written from a personal level of the artist. When you looked at wanting to get into music, why country music?

It is that personal level and vulnerability that a lot of country music brings. The type of country music that I grew up listening to is all about telling a story. If you listen to a lot of my songs, you will find a common theme that they tell stories or they are like a start to finish thing. It’s a whole experience in a song. What always drew me to country music is that a lot of it is so lyric-driven. I have always loved writing, even creative writing and writing stories, and also where I’m from with the prevalence of country music in Arkansas.

Is there any other choice?

TJP 47 | Country Singer Songwriter

Mary Heather Hickman: “I see that these people are doing it. I’ve always wanted to do it. Why can’t I take that leap and give it a shot.”

It was a natural choice. I have this country accent, so it felt natural to go into the country space.

As a senior in high school, you competed on The Voice. You credit that experience as a turning point that “created a spark in me to pursue music more seriously.” Can you talk about that experience? What happened on the show? What was that fire that was lit in you to pursue this as a career as a result of it?

Before I did The Voice, I had always loved singing and writing but I had never seen anybody do music as a career. The only people that I knew that were doing music as a career were Miranda Lambert or the people that had already made it. I had never seen people actively working on getting there. I auditioned for The Voice in the summer of 2013.



[bctt tweet=”When it comes to music, fans can tell when you’re being true to yourself and when you aren’t.” username=”talentwargroup”]

The Voice has a pretty lengthy audition process. I made it all the way through to where I was considered a contestant on season six. I stayed in Los Angeles for two months. I roomed with a girl from Nashville that had a publishing deal. It opened my eyes to the fact that there were people doing music and making it work.

There was a roadmap that you saw.

It was like, “I see that these people are doing it. I have always wanted to do that. Why can’t I take that leap and give it a shot?” I was coming out of a pretty bad year in high school. I was not confident in who I was or even in music. The stars aligned. Even though I didn’t make it onto the actual show, I felt like a different person when I returned home. I was starting my freshman year of college. It became less about everything else that was going on and more about, “How do I get to Nashville?” I want to get my degree, get to Nashville, work on music and give this a real shot.

You grew up in a close family. You said that your parents were a little bit strict.

They are easygoing but they always had an eye on what my siblings and I were doing.

Were you not fooling them?

It wasn’t free reign like, “Do whatever you want.” I wouldn’t try to pull the, “I’m going over to my friends for a sleepover,” and they are like, “Sure.” I’m glad that they were because that’s a good thing that they cared about what I was doing.

You write a little bit about it. Your dad was the most hard-working person you know. Your brother screens your new songs and gives you honest feedback. Your sister is an interior designer, and you share that artistic passion. Talk about growing up a little bit more and your dad’s influence on you in working hard.

Both my parents work super hard. We came from a small town in Arkansas where my dad managed a hunting store. We moved to Texas. He started a new career. Eventually, he went to building his own business. I have seen him work so hard and come from nothing. I was lucky growing up that I was never in a situation where I was worried about having food on the table. My parents instilled in me that anything worth doing is worth working hard at, and hard work builds character.

TJP 47 | Country Singer Songwriter

Mary Heather Hickman


I grew up in a suburb of Dallas where a lot of my friends were handed a credit card and said, “Put whatever you want on it.” That was not the case. I always had a job since I was fifteen years old. If you want something, you have to put in the work. At the time, I was a little resentful about it, especially in comparison to some of what I saw my friends doing. I’m so thankful for it because that has carried through to my career and personal life in general. I’m a hard worker.

I spent the flight listening to a number of your songs. If you see a bump on your stats, know that myself, Emily, and Jenny listened to a whole bunch of your songs several times.

I appreciate it. Thank you.

You write your own songs. You credit your dad influencing you to write saying, “I remember writing songs when I was young because my dad always told me, ‘If you want to be a country music singer, you have to write your own songs.'” Can you talk about your process of songwriting? We hear about songwriters who will say, “It took me 7 to 8 months to write this song.” Others say, “I was sitting at a restaurant. I grabbed the napkin. I wrote the whole song while I sat there.” What’s your process?

I have had both experiences. I have songs that I have written in fifteen minutes, start to finish, with very little editing. I have songs like Treasure that took several months to write. I’m very meticulous about making sense of all of my songs. I don’t like anything that is like, “What is the central idea? How does this line relate to that? Did we already say this? If we already said it, we shouldn’t say it again.” That’s my thought process. I’m very meticulous about everything adding up. That’s a big thing for me.

How do you choose what you want to write about?

A lot of it is a personal experience. For example, Treasure is from some dating mishaps or what I call constant need to fix people or think that I can fix people.

You learn as you get older that most people can’t be fixed.

If somebody has a lot of problems, I’m like, “Let me get my hands on you.” The other stuff is story songs. I have a song called Ouachita River. That one is about killing someone and throwing them in the river. That’s not true.TJP 47 | Country Singer Songwriter

The Dixie Chicks did Goodbye Earl.

I grew up listening to The Dixie Chicks, so you get inspiration from that. Sometimes it’s a personal experience. Sometimes somebody says something, and I’m like, “That sounds like I could make that into a song.” Sometimes I make stories up as I go. Also, I loved creative writing when I was younger. A lot of that feeds into the songwriting process of making stories up. You only have so many personal experiences you can draw from. Eventually, you’ve got to source other material, too.

[bctt tweet=”Traditionally, country music always had a silver lining, even some of the most depressing songs have a piece of hopefulness there.” username=”talentwargroup”]

You studied Communication when you went to college. We shared that bond when we spoke because I was a Journalism major. In episode ten, we spoke with an organizational psychologist called Dr. Alan Echtenkamp. Alan talks about the message. When you study Journalism and Communication, it’s all about the theory behind communicating a message. There are three parts to it, the sender, receiver, and message itself. You spoke about the clarity of the story. What do you take away from studying Journalism and Communication that has helped you become a better songwriter?

In Journalism, one of the things that we often talked about was writing in a way that everybody can understand regardless of background. When you are writing for Journalism, you want to write it in the most concise way.

That’s why they start with obituaries. Why do I have to write 900 obituaries? It’s like, “It’s because you have to communicate their whole life in 200 words.”

I’m like, “If songwriting doesn’t work out, maybe obituary is my calling.” That has translated into my songwriting. Anybody who gets in a room with me knows that I’m going to be annoying about making sense. I will be the person that will scratch a whole verse because I’m like, “This is repeating the same thing we have already said. This doesn’t add anything to the message.”

Sometimes my cowriters are like, “Mary Heather, we spent two hours writing this verse, and you want to scrap the whole thing.” I will do it like, “I’m not going to put it out if it doesn’t make sense. I’m going to let you know I’m not going to do anything with the song unless it makes sense, is unique, and says something that I would say.”

TJP 47 | Country Singer Songwriter

Baptist Parking Lot

There’s a discipline behind that level of being meticulous. You spoke about being in these competitions. It is those details that set apart the elite, highest performers. I work with so many organizations on the development of their teams and individuals. Many times, it comes down to the preparation, the work you put in on the front end. Do you have a standard that you are unwilling to compromise?

When it comes to a finished song, it’s always a gut feeling more than anything. I write every single day. As I have lived in Nashville and learned from other cowriters, I have gotten better overall at writing and saying things in a creative way because I put in the practice behind it. When it comes to a finished song, every song that I have ever put out, I have left the room, knowing that I want to put the song out, and I’m excited about it. I usually sit with them for a couple of months too before I end up going into the studio and recording them to make sure that excitement stays. I want to be as excited about Baptist Parking Lot as I was the day I wrote it and left the room and was like, “I’m so excited about this song. I want to put this song out.”

That is important. Look at artists like Guns N’ Roses and Jon Bon Jovi, who still play.

These are going to be the songs that you have to sing for the rest of your life.


You said, “Don’t chase trends because that’s what’s going to get you somewhere. Be very authentic and write about things about or tell a story that you have to tell.” What do you mean by that?

In this day and age, we see so much on social media. We see what’s working for somebody else. It’s easy to want to emulate that because that’s working for that person. When it comes to music, fans can tell when you are being true to yourself. For example, a lot of people on TikTok are like, “This TikTok worked for somebody else. I’m going to try it.” It doesn’t go over the same way because the one person was doing it authentically, and it’s clear this person is trying to get a viral video.

They have people who go on TikTok and produce these videos that start with, “If you want your video to go viral, do this.” Trust me. I have tried it. It doesn’t work.

People are smarter than people give them credit for. There’s something about it that comes off as inauthentic, and maybe not because there’s an exception to this. As a general rule, I have always tried to do things in my own way. It seemed to work for me.

Let’s talk about your style. Your style has been described as sassy irreverent Don’t Mess with Texas. What does that mean?

TJP 47 | Country Singer Songwriter

Fran and Mary heather Hickman

That means I will say whatever is on my mind and not be afraid to say it. There are times when I have set a line, and people are like, “Are you sure you want to say that? Can you say that?” I’m like, “That’s what I want to say.” People are like, “Would you say that?” I’m like, “I will say it in a song if I said it in the room.” It’s about being honest. Sometimes I have had some one-liners that are a little risqué or scandalous. I’m not afraid to throw those in a song. Even with Treasure, there’s a line in the song at the bridge. It’s like, “The liars, the losers, the one too many shots of whiskey doers, the prescription pill abusers.”

There was a big, not back and forth but Stefanie Joyce, who co-wrote the song with me, was like, “I don’t know if we can put prescription pill abusers in a song if we want it to ever go to radio. I don’t think the radio is going to play that.” I’m like, “It works so perfect for the song. It is accurate. It’s what the song needs.” We kept it in there, and we didn’t get much pushback from the radio on that line. Sometimes taking that risk pays off. I’m pretty proud of getting that line on the radio.

I want to ask you about your peers in the pop genre of music. Some of their music is depressing. My daughter listens to this. It’s sad, yet it’s huge. It has become the standard almost. These songs are all about how they have been wrong and how bad life is. I look at this, and I’m like, “You are 18 or 20 years old. You don’t even know what life has to come in. You are speaking about how depressing life is to you.” I listen to your music and country music. Even when it’s about something difficult or terrible, there’s always this uplifting vibe that gives you hope and see opportunity. Why do you think that is?

Traditionally in country, there’s always that silver lining thing. Even in some of the most depressing songs, there is this little piece of hopefulness there. I’m not sure why that’s present in country music and not pop. It has always been that way. I’m glad that country music has a little bit of hopefulness to it. One of the most depressing songs in country music is He Stopped Loving Her Today by George Jones. That’s a sad song. It’s got a beautiful melody and sweetness to it. It’s about this guy that has always held onto this love. It’s sad but also hopeful.

I always reference Rascal Flatts’ song if you play a country song backward where you get everything back. You get your dog, money, and car back. Everything comes back to you. In college, you had a band, Mary Heather and the Sinners. You also had the opportunity to play to open for Eli Young Band, Hank Williams Jr, and Brad Paisley. No big deal on any of those. Carrie Underwood gave you a shout-out on her iHeartRadio station when they debuted Treasure.

We are sitting in the most iconic country music studio that sits in the world. The walls are covered with so many memories when you sit here and think about where you have come from, talking about the future, the opportunity that sits here. I remember a little-known artist who goes by the name of Taylor Swift when she opened for Rascal Flatts long ago. She came out and everyone was like, “Who is Taylor Swift? Where’s Rascal Flatts. Get them out of here.” It’s amazing what she has done in her career. When you look around, how do you feel?

I try to remember to take it all in. Sometimes, my life is so busy and fast-paced that it’s easy to forget about where I came from. I sent Wes a video of my first open mic performance in Nashville. I had never co-written a song. I was doing all of the songs that I had written in college and came to Nashville. Looking at that made me a little bit sentimental to think about how far I have come, not only career-wise but also in songwriting on a personal level, how much I have grown in the past years since I moved to Nashville.

[bctt tweet=”So many variable variables have to come together for anybody to be able to make money at doing music. ” username=”talentwargroup”]

I try to take a little bit of time to stop worrying about what’s next and instead be thankful for what I have and what I have accomplished. Some of the things that have happened to me are so crazy. I have to remind myself there are people out there that are like, “That could be my peak. That would be the biggest thing ever to happen for me.” I have to think about that, be grateful, and appreciate it. I get on to what’s next. I try to take some time to think about all the good things that have happened and give myself a little time to be proud of myself.

Who has influenced you in the industry? Who do you look at as a role model or mentor and say, “That person has set the standard?”

TJP 47 | Country Singer Songwriter


One of my biggest influences is Loretta Lynn. I listen to a great podcast for country music fans. The podcast is called Cocaine & Rhinestones. It’s all different types of things. They have an episode on Harper Valley PTA in the process of getting that song recorded. They had an episode on Loretta Lynn that I listened to. She came from nothing, too. It talked about how a lot of her songs were banned on the radio because she was a woman and talked about things like birth control and taboo things at the time.

Radio tried to ban a lot of her songs but she ended up using that to her advantage. She knew a song was going to get banned but because that song was banned on the radio, people were going to buy more records. That is so cool that she was able to take adversity and use it to her advantage. She’s an amazing songwriter and talented voice, classy, graceful. She’s somebody that I look up to a lot.

You never go it alone when you are building, even if you are a singer-songwriter. We talk to athletes who play individual sports but they are not individual sports. There’s a whole apparatus and support structure that sits behind you and them. We call it team ability. Teamwork is one of our core characteristics of performance that we talk about a lot. There’s also the concept of the tribe, those that you surround yourself with. You are very close with your friend and fellow songwriter, Stefanie Joyce. You were one of The Arkansas Awards.

We’ve got nominated as a duo, which is funny because we are not a duo. We do have one song that we put out as a duet. She’s one of my closest friends and colleagues, too.

Jedburgh Podcast l Country Singer Songwriter

Mary Heather Hickman: “Knowing what I am not god at has been more helpful to my career than anything else.”

What do you look for in your team?

One thing I like to do is know what I’m good at and not good at. Knowing what I’m not good at has been more helpful to my career than anything else. I’m creative. I can write a decent song. I’m terribly unorganized and very type B. Bringing in somebody my Manager, Wes Mayers, has been a blessing. I can attribute a lot of my success to Wes being on top of everything and saying, “We have to get this done. We need to do this for your website. We need everything for the song completed by this date.”

I have always been someone that has tried to be organized and do it on my own but that’s one of my weaknesses. Having people like Wes in my life, people like Classic 77, they help me with all of my social media, which I’m also not very good at. I’m good at TikTok because that’s me singing and uploading videos but things like Instagram, where a lot of people in the industry say, “You need to post every single day,” is not something I love doing. I have a team there that helps me with that, and my amazing co-writers help bring song ideas to life. My parents keep me very humble and grounded. There are so many people that I would certainly not be where I am without.


Adversity is something that all high performers face. Every successful person tells you that at some point in their career, whether it was personal or professional in their lives have dealt with something. You spoke about a difficult senior year that you had. We had an opportunity in previous episodes to talk with Travis Hollman, who’s in Dallas, Texas.

Travis Hollman is the CEO of Hollman lockers. They built the locker room for the Dallas Cowboys. It’s the number one locker company in the world. He was confined to a wheelchair as a kid. He was told he would never walk when he was in third grade. He had dyslexia to the point that his teachers told him he was the dumbest kid they had ever taught. We also spoke with Richard Hanbury. He is the Founder and CEO of Sana Health. They have developed a device that helps train neuro pathways to reduce pain. Richard was in a car accident at nineteen and lost his legs when he drove his car off a bridge in Yemen.

Jessie Graff is another one we spoke to from American Ninja Warrior and the stunt woman who has an endless amount of injuries. She has come back stronger from every one of those. You battled and continue to battle Type 1 diabetes. You were diagnosed at age four. You said, “Diabetes doesn’t define me but it has played a huge role in shaping me into the person I am.” Can you talk a bit more about that?

I was diagnosed when I was four years old. I don’t know much of a life without Type 1 diabetes when my parents were in control of giving me my insulin and making sure I tested my blood sugar. My diabetes was always in good control. Getting into middle school and high school, I started being resentful that I had diabetes and constantly being like, “Why am I the one that has to struggle?” I used to get embarrassed about taking insulin shots in front of my friends. Around high school time, I stopped doing it. I would not take insulin and test my blood sugar. I had acted that I didn’t have it.TJP 47 | Country Singer Songwriter

What did that do to you?

I was sick all the time. The way my doctor described it is that I was keeping myself on the borderline of death, which is very dramatic but it’s true. I would not test my blood sugar and take insulin. I would come home when I was by myself. I would take insulin to bring my blood sugar back down from the high level that it had been. It’s keeping myself out of hospital range. I would take insulin in front of my friends. It’s not even like they were bullying me about it but I didn’t like that type of attention. I wanted to be known as cool or popular, not the girl with diabetes.

[bctt tweet=”The majority of staying humble is remembering all the work that you put in to get here and helping other people that are trying to do the same thing.” username=”talentwargroup”]

It got so bad to the point of my senior year that I was hospitalized and lost a bunch of hair because I was in poor health. I had gained a bit of weight. Peers are making fun of me. It was the worst. To this day, I can still get emotional about it because it was the worst year of my life. I felt I didn’t have any friends. I was in a group in high school that would be considered the popular group but I was never the popular girl. I was always the one who was trying to be in the group. I was also the weird songwriter. I don’t know why I thought that was the group that I was going to fit in.

I was sitting in the hospital, and my parents were crying because I had been doing this for years. I was like, “What do I have to lose? I have no friends. This is horrible. I’m sick all the time. My parents are crying. I have to figure something out.” I decided, at this point, I didn’t care anymore. I started taking my health seriously. I had not been taking care of myself so long that I didn’t realize what it felt like to be normal and have normal blood sugars. I realized I was in a better mood and motivated to do things. Everything came together when my health was in check. I have held on to that feeling.

The Jedburgh Podcast l Mary Heather Hickman

Mary Heather Hickman: “I wanted to be known as cool or popular. Not the girl with diabetes.”

There’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not anything that I can help with. It’s not like I have asked to have diabetes. I always thought people cared more than they do. It’s a casual thing. I’m like, “I have diabetes. I wear an insulin pump. It’s part of my life. If that’s not in check, I can’t do the other things that I want to do, which are songwriting, music, and performing.” It’s a big priority for me to make sure that that’s in check.

You have become a strong advocate for it, which is important.

Every person who is in adolescence going through diabetes, maybe not as severe of a phase that I went through but everybody goes through some struggle. I want them to know that it doesn’t have to be a struggle. It’s not that big of a deal.

You posted a video of you working at a restaurant. We brought it up a couple of times. It’s on Instagram. The caption read, “Nothing more humbling than having a song in the Top Ten iTunes country charts than having to go work your server job the next day and scrape food off random people’s plates because you’ve still got to pay the bills.”

Too often, we think about the path to achievement and success as this easy road. You look around the walls here, and it’s so easy to fall into the trap of, “They made it.” People who are grounded know that’s not the reality. We spoke with Steven Nyman, three-time Olympian World Cup Champion in Downhill Skiing.

He spent a lot of time talking about his road to the top. He said it was, “It’s a step-by-step goal. I reached for it and pushed for it every single year.” I have been on a grit kick since 2022 began. It’s the ability to dig deep, push through, find a way to get it done. In episode 41, author and former Navy SEAL Rich Diviney defined grit.

He said it was a combination of courage, perseverance, adaptability, and resilience. Where are you when you think about this dichotomy? You look at your career, and it’s so easy to wake up and say, “I’m at the front end of this thing. My dreams are starting to be real. I’m so excited but I’ve got to go to this job because I’m not going to be able to pay my bills if I don’t.”

Most people in Nashville have some side hustle working to make music work. I work at a restaurant so that I can write during the day. I’m thankful that I only have to work a few days a week to cover what I need, bill-wise. That allows me to pursue music more full-time. It’s one of those things that you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to make it work. It goes back to that hard work thing that my parents instilled. Certainly, this is not the easy path I could have taken, used my degree, and had a “real job.”

That’s not an easy path. That’s as hard as it’s different.

It’s more traditional. The thing with music is there is no guarantee that you are going to have a job. There’s no guarantee for success there. It’s easy, more in the sense that it’s more secure. There are so many variables in music that have to come together for anybody to be able to make money at doing music.

Jedburgh Podcast l Country Singer Songwriter

Mary Heather Hickman: “I work at a restaurant so I can write during the day…you gotta do what you gotta do.”

There was going to be a test question. It ties into this. When you think about your day and what it takes to get your name and cover on the walls of this building one day, how would you define courage, perseverance, adaptability, and resilience?

It goes back to that grit thing. It’s a leap of faith. Trusting yourself and knowing your abilities enough to take that chance that it’s going to work out takes some courage. You’ve got to be willing to do it and put yourself out there. It takes a little bit of faith in knowing that, “If you work hard, it’s going to work out in the long run.”

What do you tell all of the little girls who follow you on TikTok and other social media and look up to you and say, “I can’t wait until that’s me one day?”

I hope I am an example that you can do it. You can take that leap of faith to do something that is not maybe the path all of your peers are going down. When I told all my friends from home that I was moving to Nashville to do music, they thought I was insane. I would like to be the person that somebody wants to do music or something to follow their passion. Don’t think you have to take the traditional way to do that. Everyone should find what gets them excited every day and chase that.

When you think about what’s ahead, more notoriety, hopefully, a tremendous amount of fame for you comes down the road. It’s so easy often to get caught up in it, become consumed, become what Lucas Foster in the previous episode, an Olympic snowboarder. He’s competing in the Olympics as a rookie on the US Snowboard Team.

One of the things he talks about is that he looked around at these people he idolized when he made the team. All of a sudden, they are too cool for school. They forget about everybody else, their impact, and their position as mentors and role models. How do you plan to stay grounded and humble as you go down this path?

The big thing is keeping people around me who will humble me like Wes and my parents, who will keep me in check and say, “Remember where you came from.” In the music industry, a lot of times, you get a little bit of success, and then you get all these yes men around you because they think you are some star and they want to do or agree with whatever you say.

I hope people in my life will continue to call me out when I’m wrong or tell me when I’m not being humble and staying true to my roots, making sure I go home to Arkansas, spend some days in Morro Bay and get away from all the craziness. That helps, too. The majority of staying humble is remembering all the work I put in to get here and help other people trying to do the same thing, extending a handout when I can, and keeping good people around me. That’s the key to humbleness.

Can we talk about football for a minute?

What do we want to do in football? What football questions?TJP 47 | Country Singer Songwriter

You wrote a song about the Dallas Cowboys.

That is the one song I did not write that I have cut.

There’s a phrase in there where you said that it’s Jerry’s World. It’s controversial because it has always remained Jerry’s World. You have played at AT&T Stadium. You are a big fan of the Dallas Cowboys. My question about the Dallas Cowboys is, what happened? What has to change? Every year it’s the same thing.

You are asking the same question that everybody else is asking. If I had the answer, I might be hired. It’s sometimes very heartbreaking to be a Cowboys fan. I’m also a Razorback fan. I’m no stranger to heartbreak in football. I wish I knew. If I had the key to success for the Cowboys, I wouldn’t be in music. I would be coaching the team. The last time the Cowboys went to the Super Bowl might have been when I was born.

It was 1996.

I was one year old. I would love to be able to see the Cowboys in a Super Bowl sometime that I remember. I’m going to leave it at that. I don’t know anything else. I don’t know how we can fix it but I hope we do.

When you are ready to convert to the New England Patriots, let me know. We will send you some gear.

My sister’s boyfriend is a big Patriots fan. He’s from Rhode Island, and we give him a lot of trouble for his team of affiliations. We like to talk about Deflategate.

It never happened. It’s fake news. Baptist Parking Lot is going to radio on February 14th. What does that mean?

The song is impacting radio, which means that it will be played on the small local stations all over the country, which is super exciting. That’s how my manager found me. We did the same thing with Treasure. It’s going to radio on Valentine’s Day. Baptist Parking Lot is a perfect Valentine’s song. It’s exciting because that means we get to hopefully go and do some radio tour, meet those stations, and thank them for playing the song, which is always exciting. It’s also cool because a lot of my fans will reach out and be like, “I found your song through the radio or I knew this song already, and I heard it on my local radio station.” That’s super exciting.

What else is on the horizon for 2022? What do we have to look forward to?

More music. Hopefully, at some point, I will be able to put out an album. There are some songs that I want to put out that I don’t think are things I would put out as a single. I would love for people to be able to hear an album. You never know. I love to sign a record deal or a publishing deal if it’s the right fit. I hope that could be on the horizon too and maybe, getting to quit the restaurant job. As much as I love everybody there, I would love to be able to walk in one day and say, “I don’t need to do this anymore.”

Wes is in the background over here, smiling. I’m sure he realizes but we have given him the to-do list for 2022. Mary Heather, as we close out, the Jedburghs had to do three things every day in their plight in World War II to be successful as core foundational tasks. They had to be able to shoot, move, and communicate. If they did these tasks with the utmost precision, they could focus their attention on larger challenges that came their way. What are the three things you do every day in your world as foundational tasks to be successful?

Start every day with a list because I am extremely unorganized. To combat that, I write out my plan of what I need to get done for the day. I find on the days that I do that, and they run a lot more smoothly. I write every day, whether writing a song on my own or song ideas. If I don’t feel like writing any songs, I make sure I journal what happened that day. That helps a lot.

Jedburgh Podcast l Country Music Singer Songwriter

Mary Heather’s Three Foundations to Success

For other people, it might be meditating or something that gets the creativity going. It helps me to be successful, especially in this career for me. I love to make sure that every day I am taking a few moments to do something for myself. Sometimes it’s very easy to get caught up in the hecticness, especially in this type of lifestyle. I have been implementing, whether that’s taking time to watch a TV show for 30 minutes. I feel much less stressed out if I take a little bit of time, even if it’s walking my dog. Something simple that isn’t music-related or business-related helps me stay way less stressed out.

Make lists to stay organized, write every day, and find a few moments of me-time. In our episodes, we talk about the nine characteristics of performance as defined by Special Operations Command, drive, resiliency, adaptability, humility, integrity, curiosity, team ability, effective intelligence, and emotional strength. High performers display all of these in their quest. We have talked about almost all of these here to a point. What I do at the end of these shows is I give one to my guests that, through the conversation, they display the most of, even though you have them all.

For you, I think about drive and this need for achievement and a growth mindset to be better than you were before, this constant need to learn more. We talked about learning instruments, writing every day, building a team around you, and resiliency. Even in resiliency, you have to have the drive to keep going when you are faced with challenges and be grounded and humble.

The fact that you can wake up every day and say, “This is what I have to do. Can I devote myself every day to push myself forward to achieve this goal that I have set out?” It’s so commendable. You have embarked on the front end of a very prosperous and great career. I am so thankful that you took time out of your busy day to spend it with my team and me. We wish you the most success. We will be watching and promoting you. We will be looking to follow up soon on what is to come.

I would love that so much. Thank you so much for having me. This has been so great. I’m so glad you’ve all got to come to Nashville and do this in person. I’m very thankful to be on this show. I have read some other episodes, and it’s truly an honor.

Thank you, Wes and Redline Entertainment, for having us. Thank you to the RCA Studios here on Music Row. I couldn’t be more appreciative of the opportunity that we have had. We will see you soon.

Thank you.

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