Updated: Jul 12
Cindy-Jo is from a musical family, her mom, who is also Cindy, Grandpa Joe and brother are all singers, and Cindy-Jo, being the youngest of four children, gained a lot of their influences as a young child. She grew up listening to her mom’s favorite artists like Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, and Amy Grant and danced around singing their songs and copying Shania Twain’s wardrobe as a young girl. She participated in talent shows and dreamed of having her own band while in elementary school and naming it Dirt Road Dixie, the Dixie Chicks were a popular band at the time, no doubt. Her dad solidified that name after her American Idol performance. It has been the perfect name for a female country singer’s band who lives on a dirt road. As time has moved on, that is one of the changes that is coming for Cindy-Jo. She started as Dirt Road Dixie, then Cindy-Jo with Dirt Road Dixie, and now she will be dropping the title Dirt Road Dixie and will be performing as Cindy-Jo Music.
Cindy-Jo has auditioned on three singing competition shows, starting with America’s Got Talent in 2012, stumbling upon the audition location on her way to an Ice Show in the Twin Cities. After a few years of working on her singing talent, she auditioned on American Idol, which brought her a lot of publicity in 2015. She was voted through by Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. but got a no from Jennifer Lopez. Cindy-Jo sang a Carrie Underwood song on her original audition and ended up with a golden ticket singing Leann Rimes’s song Blue. The extensive process of auditioning sounded brutal to me, traveling back and forth to Burbank, sleeping on the floor of the convention center waiting her turn. After exiting the show, she played around 250 shows a year. Constantly living with a suitcase in her car running to play shows after a full day of teaching Pre-K/Kindergarten classes.
In 2017, she auditioned for The Voice and again in 2021 but gave up her spot on the show, she was pregnant with her youngest, and knowing how intense the auditioning process would become, it didn’t seem like a way to spend her pregnancy.
Since those auditioning days, she has decided to slow down to focus on the quality of shows instead of quantity. Family-friendly atmospheres have become more important, and her family is always in attendance, she rocked her youngest child to sleep while singing to the audience on stage most of the summer.
It is a perspective change for her to switch from being a "performer that is a mom" to now a "mom that is a performer" and loves the joy that it is bringing. It will keep her from the typical burnout of overperforming and wearing out her voice as well. One of the perks of being an independent artist is that she can manage her schedule. Cindy-Jo is participating in a fundraiser for a local teacher who was nominated for teacher of the year, which will help with the costs of the travel for her participation in the National Teacher of the Year contest. She schedules herself out two weeks before Christmas to do pop-up shows in the community leading up to Christmas. In the past, they have played in the parking lot while a Salvation Army bell ringer is ringing at Cub Foods and also popped up at a nativity scene to do some caroling.
On stage, Cindy-Jo sings mostly cover songs from classic and traditional country artists. She has supported the classic country style and works to maintain the value and positive influence of that style of country music. She is currently recording cover videos and those are coming in November, next is a fresh photo shoot soon leading into Cindy-Jo recording and releasing original music. Her first song is ready and will be released after the first of the year. Cindy-Jo and her brother Kaleb Heart (Iron Horse) are working on a secret project for the 80s and 90s country fans with a large backup band, fiddle, and steel guitar. I can't wait to hear more about that!
I really appreciate you, Cindy- Jo taking time out of your day to chat with me about your life and music, especially now that we have become best friends.
catching up with one artist at a time, in a country minute
photos by Cindy and Jake
*American Idol pic - (watermarked) by Getty Images