Mikaela Dewar
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Mikaela Dewar

Nashville, Tennessee, United States

Nashville, Tennessee, United States
Band Country Jazz


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The best kept secret in music


"BBC Radio, England, U.K."

“…a really really inspiring first CD. I like it very much…Mikaela Dewar’s 'Overdressed' is as spirited a first offering as you could actually wish for." - Keith Warmington

"New Zealand singer-songwriter takes step forward in West Texas"

Mikaela Dewar's dreams were always big dreams.

When she played tennis, it was with the goal of becoming the No. 1 tennis player in the world. When she co-majored in French at college, she envisioned herself a diplomat one day.

But when studying political science at Canterbury University in hometown Christchurch, New Zealand, Dewar was only investing three years in "a piece of paper (diploma)," not her future.

"Even my parents knew I didn't want to be there," said Dewar, the daughter of a school principal and a saleswoman.

Music always had been her first love, and she was determined to travel anywhere, make any sacrifice, so her songs could be heard by more people.

Her route to success thus far has seen her travel from New Zealand to Australia and then, on the basis of recording artist Jedd Hughes' recommendation, to Levelland and Lubbock, where she recorded her first compact disc, titled "Overdressed."

She moved Monday to Bristol, England, where she will stay with her parents for a three-month songwriting sabbatical. Dewar will return to Lubbock in April to record again.

She devoted three years to perfecting her sound, writing songs and gathering desired musicians and crew for her first recording. Her next CD will reflect three months of preparation.

"I didn't leave too many stones unturned the first time," Dewar said. "I changed everything I wanted to change, so there was no cringe factor when my CD finally was released. It will be easier next time, obviously."

A staunch supporter of what she calls old country, Dewar set her sights on becoming a country artist long before she followed Hughes and enrolled at South Plains College.

That's bound to surprise all who listen to the jazz vocals that fill "Overdressed."

Then again, Don Caldwell, who co-produced the album, thinks that even jazz might be a too convenient label.

"Really, this is some of the most original material I have ever been associated with," Caldwell said. "I compare it to when I was working with Terry Allen for the very first time. Nobody had ever heard anything like what he was doing — and I've never heard anything before like what Mikaela has just recorded.

"Her music embodies her sensitivity, her life, her humor. She is an entertainer unimpaired by commercial restraints."

Rusty Hudelson, one of her music professors at South Plains College, concurred.

"Mikaela is an extremely unique songwriter, different from every songwriter I know," Hudelson said. "She's political, well informed, very educated, and I've never heard anyone with a voice like hers."

Jay Lemon taught songwriting classes at SPC.

"Her real knack is with lyrics," he said. "She has an honest, intimate girl-and-guitar thing going for her."

Dewar asked for her first guitar when she turned 7. Graduating at age 9 to a steel string, red and yellow Sunburst guitar, she continued learning from musician Julia Sugrue.

Dewar followed country music as a child. She studied classical guitar through high school.

She remembers long days picking raspberries, with her mother's help, to earn $100 needed to buy her first electric guitar.

In 1997, she won the Gold Guitar, an award Dewar calls "the pinnacle of New Zealand country music." For entertainers in New Zealand, she said, the next step is forging a career in Australia.

Dewar networked with other musicians. After a stint playing electric guitar for Shrunk, an all-girls rock band, in high school, she began performing at pubs, clubs and festivals.

A move to Tamworth, Australia, in 1999, paid dividends, thanks in part to her introduction to Jane Robertson, an American musician who helped shape Dewar's songwriting technique.

"Before that, I wrote only because I had to," noted Dewar. "Now I'm much more aware of structure, and I can't compare the feeling I get from writing songs to anything else."

She accepted an offer to join a three-piece Australian country band before she even arrived. She still laughs at the band's name — Electric Barnyard. On the other hand, she pointed out, "You can make really good money there, playing in Australia and New South Wales."

By the time the band broke up, Aussie recording artist Jedd Hughes had been telling Dewar about a fantastic music school in Texas called South Plains College.

"At first I had too many commitments, but I wanted to get more music education," Dewar said. "I've always felt that to be the best, you have to put yourself around the best. Jedd, Dixie Chicks (Natalie Maines), Lee Ann Womack — they'd all gone to South Plains."

Packing all of her possessions into a single suitcase, she set off in 2001 on a 26-hour flight. Her destination: Lubbock International Airport. Homesickness struck quickly.

"I'm a person who enjoys change," she said, "but it takes me about three months to settle in.

"And even though I was only 23, I was a little older than most other students at South Plains. Australia's pretty liberal, so t - Lubbock Avalanche Journal




Feeling a bit camera shy


Mikaela’s voice has been described as “crystal clear, like a running river." Her diminutive stature belies her huge stage presence, and her vocals are delivered with a great sense of time, style and soul.

Mikaela Dewar was born and raised in Christchurch, on the east coast of New Zealand. She started playing the guitar at 7 years old and was playing gigs by 9. Mikaela was influenced early on by old school country: Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris...and fell in love with James Taylor at 15. With these influences, plus her Dad's record collection consisting of The Beatles, Ray Charles, Simon & Garfunkel and Tony Joe White, and add to that her later influences, unearthed in Texas: Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Lyle Lovett...it's no wonder Mikaela's music has been described as eclectic.

Having won many New Zealand music awards, including the prestigious New Zealand Gore Gold Guitar Award, she moved to Tamworth, Australia in 1999. She was a Star Maker Grand Finalist in Tamworth, placing her in the top 10 up and coming country music performers in Australia and New Zealand. Mikaela then spent all her time in Australia touring New South Wales with different bands. She moved to Levelland, Texas, to attend South Plains College in 2001, and has spent the last 4 years honing her craft in West Texas. She was the 2002 & 2003 South Plains College Female Songwriter of the Year. Mikaela’s fan base is ever growing and she regularly performs at The Mean Woman Grill in Levelland, The County Line in Lubbock, and at the historic Cactus Theater in Lubbock, amongst others.

While in Texas, Mikaela has opened for Terri Hendrix & Lloyd Maines, Ian Moore and Fred Eaglesmith. She has played the Buddy Holly Music Festival, the Lubbock Arts Festival, the Tamworth Country Music Festival (Australia) and the Christchurch Festival of Romance (New Zealand).

Mikaela is well-travelled and educated. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and French...when she was younger she wanted to be a French diplomat, but her childhood dreams of diplomatic immunity were eventually surpassed by her musical dreams. Her only regret is that she can now expect a ticket when she parks her ’83 Mercury Cougar on a yellow line.

Mikaela's all-original debut album "Overdressed" is a direct result of her time spent in Texas. The album has been called a creative masterpiece, and showcases the great collaborative relationship she has with some wildly talented young West Texas musicians.

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