I’m not much of a TV watcher and I’m usually spending all my money on recording albums or making videos or whatever my latest vision happens to be at the moment. So, in short, I don’t budget for cable television. In 2009, I was on a fun road trip to Nashville with one of my besties. We were getting ready in the hotel room (I believe I was making big hair) and we had the tube on as we excitedly got ready to see where the night would take us. We happened upon a show, filmed right here in Cincinnati, at The School For Creative and Performing Arts, in Over-the-Rhine. We were totally engrossed and immediately liked the young girl, a senior at the school. My best friend loved her because she did a great cover of , “Chasing Pavements” by Adele. I liked her performance as well, and her laid back vibe, but it was her sparkly silver leggings that really hooked me. You gotta love a woman with style (and guts).
That high school senior, was Miss Mia Carruthers. Since then she’s been writing, recording, chasing her dreams and falling in love. We met up at Collective Espresso to talk about music and stuff.
Mia has an energy around her. It’s very tangible when you meet her. She’s a bit of a free spirit, a true artist who hates routine and loves living a life where no two days are the same. But, she’s also got her feet on solid ground and has a sense of purpose and a centered way about her.
Mia grew up in West Chester and admits she felt weird and out of place in such a homogenized environment. She had always known instinctively that music would be a focal point of her life and she was fortunate to grow up in a family of creative people. Her father is a singer/songwriter and her brother, Taylor Alexander, plays locally as well. She told me about a show they had coming up at The Comet and how much she was looking forward to that. Her passion for music lead her to SCPA. She found their website and was completely taken with the program and knew that was where she wanted to be. It took a little convincing, but her family got on board and supported the choice to leave school in suburbia and for Mia to attend school in Over-The-Rhine. I don’t think Mia was surprised to fall in love once in the inner city neighborhood. She naturally is curious and enjoys being around all different kinds of people. And, if any neighborhood provides that kind of mixed bag of folks, OTR surely does. Mia quickly fell in love with the downtown neighborhood and has been a permanent resident ever since. Oh, you thought it was all about a boy? No, a different kind of falling in love. It’s about a feeling of being “home” and really loving a community and Mia is smitten.
I asked her about songwriting and if she has a plan. She’s currently working on a project that she wants to be more of a “mix tape” than a CD or album. She’s using a variety of producers and is releasing songs one at a time and not on any set schedule, which frees her up to allow the songs to be spontaneous. “Art is not about deadlines.” Mia explained. She is offering her first single, “Bell and a Basket” as a free download on her website. There’s a nice video that goes with it, that features her beloved neighborhood, to enjoy there as well. miacarruthers.com
I have admittedly never caught Mia live and am looking forward to hearing her this Saturday night at Mainstay. She’s performing solo right now and adjusting to that change. She really enjoyed live gigs a little more with her former band, The Retros, because of the interplay and energy shared by the musicians. I’m sure she will deliver, because of her songwriting. Ultimately a good song is what draws an audience in and Mia is a talented songwriter. She said, her biggest hope when writing is “I try to write the song I want to hear.”
We wound down our time together by walking down the street and checking out a recent art installation on the side of a building on 12th Street. A thin sheet of cardboard, painted over with blackboard paint and the words “Before I Die” and a line to write in your hope. We added our wishes and then snapped a photo for instagram. I was sure to tag #thisisotr, which, uh by the way, Mia came up with! How cool and creative is that! There’s a website she set up thisisotr.com and linked to instagram, so essentially when people tag #thisisotr they are telling the story of Mia’s neighborhood visually. I’m not gonna lie, that totally blew me away that she was the creator of that concept. What a fantastic idea! Mia confessed, “I’ve had my bags packed for New York three times, but this is my home.” I love her heart about the old neighborhood. She even mentioned being able to see her old school from her apartment window. Ah, love.