Just ten minutes down the road from Nutbush, TN, the home of legendary Tina Turner, is another small town, Belle Eagle. It is in this small farming community that Tuff Duck Recording artist, Mickey Utley, was raised.
Even as a young boy he loved to sing- gospel, rock, country, and blues-it didn't matter what kind of music it was. In high school he was involved in sports but also studied music and theatre; appearing in stage plays, talent shows, revues - anything to perform and test his abilities. During these early years he began to develop his unique style that can make you cry with a ballad or jump to your feet and dance to a fast song.
Mickey's father, a honky-tonk musician himself, wanted Mickey to take his talents to the next level. He taught him to play the guitar, to hone his singing ability and above all embrace music. Mickey gained an early passion for rock and roll from his father, but his mom, who loved all things country, gave him an appreciation for the rich, almost spiritual connection to the family and to the earth that came from country music. This parental fusion would lay the foundation for the unique "blue-eyed soul sound" that so characterizes Mickey's singing style.
In his teen years Mickey was selected for Libertyland. He entered talent contests, karaoke contests and used any money he won to enter other contests and make demos. In 1994, Mickey would perform at a karaoke bar in Jackson TN that J. Michael Keener and I owned. A karaoke tape of "Always on My Mind" that Mickey recorded that night was played on radio station 103.1 and the seed was planted in my mind of the future that lay in front of Mickey.
Mickey would spend the next few years moving up the ladder of success playing casinos in Las Vegas and all across the country . After successfully auditioning for Carnival and Royal Norwegian Cruise Lines, he performed for thousands of passengers from all around the world establishing a fan base that contacts him on a daily basis. Unsatisfied with simply singing music written by others, Mickey began to write. Unafraid to peel back the emotional layers most of us try to keep inside, Mickey began to create songs, including one featured on several episodes of the hit television series “Jersey Shore" and three albums.
Playing separately on the casino circuit our paths crossed repeatedly and early in 2013 I joined Mickey's touring band, playing bass and singing backing vocals. During these performances I saw that the teen-aged singer that I had known had matured into true star material, wowing audiences from north to south.
In 2014 soon after starting Tuff Duck Records a chance call between Mickey and I led to Mickey singing on my Christmas project,“Tennessee Christmas”. Early this year we recorded Mickey's latest album, "Get It! Get It!" and a musical relationship was born. The talented, grinning youth I had met years before has become the cornerstone artist for Tuff Duck™ label. Charles Freeman