I (Anthony Crosby) have done several interviews for Anthony Around Town. When I first meet with someone, usually, we’ll exchange pleasantries and I’ll explain what it is AAT is looking to accomplish before we start the actual conversation. This was not the case with today’s featured individual. As soon as she walked into the room, she sat a guitar case down on the table, pulled out her instrument, and started playing a song for me. It was a song full of emotion and power; it was a song that she had written. You could tell the lyrics were coming straight from her heart, soul, and experiences. And, hopefully, after reading to the end of this article, you (the reader) may understand why her character and presence is so impactful.
Today’s highlighted guest is Mikki Jeane “MJ” Roadsz. Above anything else, one thing you’d come to understand when meeting MJ is that she is a giver. She lives to be selfless. This is evident through her philanthropy and involvement with Horizon Hospice, which looks to help those facing critical illness, as well as through her own organization Karma Paid Gigs, which is a music based volunteer service that focuses on bringing live music to those in hospice care and homeless shelters. Along with her charitable work, MJ is married to her husband Zach and mother of two children, fifteen months apart, both under two years old. Those are some basic “need to knows” about MJ, but I’ll let her explain a little about how she sees herself as a person. “I try not to give anyone room to hate me; all I want to do is give. That’s what I live for. I know I can be very in your face, but music is a medicine, and I never want to put my ego in front of something that can cure people. My mission in life is to go above and beyond for everyone else so that they might do the same. I want everyone to be as excited as I am about life!”
MJ, how did you end up with your view on life and helping others? Where did the MJ people know and love today come from? “I’m from Southside Chicago, which was almost like a third world country. It’s the kind of place you have to worry about the colors you wear! My mom had me at forty; she was jaded because my brothers are way older than me. Her dream was to have a girl; she tried five times; they said she couldn’t have another kid, then she had me. She wanted me so bad, but she just got so used to taking care of the men in our house that there was a lot of hurt. Growing up I also had a brother commit suicide after raping me, but I found my guitar and the world became my parent. I left home when I was thirteen; I ran away to Milwaukee because my dad lived there for a little bit. I had just signed up for school, but he ended up throwing me out. I never went to high school or anything. I left, and I was always trying to get rid of the pain, so I turned to drugs. It was the only way that I couldn’t feel. I overdosed when I was sixteen, clinically dead… after that’s when I started getting clean. I went to Nashville. I met this guy, and he let me live with him. I ended up not coming home one night, so he kept all of my stuff and wouldn’t let me come in the house. But whatever, it was just stuff. So, after playing at this (guitar-beque) I met this woman named Carla, and she took me with her to Columbus, Georgia for six months. This time was all during the Myspace days, and I was talking to this guy from Austin, Texas. I flew there to meet him, and we’re still best friends today. But from Austin, I went to Atlanta for five years, and then I went to Miami. It was around this time where music really started happening to me! I moved to Phoenix and found real success because I always trip, but I never fall.”
“It was in Phoenix where I started Karma Paid Gigs. It was a like a one night stand playing for bars; I wanted it to last. So, I started going to shelters. I met my husband, Zach, playing a gig for the Hell’s Angels; I was singing and selling raffle tickets. He was from Elko but was visiting his mom in Arizona for Thanksgiving. We met two hours from where his mom lives, but it turned out that his mom actually lived a block from me. That Christmas Eve, my ex-boyfriend came to came to my house and beat me really badly; Zach came, picked me up and took me home with my garbage bags and all. We got pregnant a month later, and I’ve been here now for almost two years! I spent all of those years chasing this dream, but I was really just chasing myself.”
That really is powerful, MJ. Thank you for being so open in your sharing. After all of the things you’ve been through, your music must really be important to you, correct? “I want to get my pain out there because there might be someone else who might have to go through it. If you do music for a selfish reason, you’re going to get selfish things out of it. I do music selflessly, and people come from all over to hear it because it’s honest. It’s honest because music is my soul; music will never wake up and say it doesn’t love me anymore!”
MJ, your feet have literally taken you all over the country; however, you’ve settled down in Elko? Why? How do you feel about our area? “I know this town is going to take time to get to know me. I’ve never lived in a small town in my life. Before Elko, Nashville was the smallest city I’ve ever lived in. But, any place where you truly want to stay, you have to go slow. I love this town and everything it has to offer. Everything I have ever dreamed of, has come true for me in this tiny town. I’m so grateful for Elko because it’s given me a life I thought I could never have. Yes, there is a desire, need, and demand for things here, but I want to help make things happen. I know I’m going to be winning Grammy’s one day… I’m the one fighting for that not to happen yet because I can touch so many people here, now.”
Well, thank you for loving the Elko area with such passion, MJ! If anyone reading this feature would like to check out more of MJ’s music or work, you can find both her and Karma Paid Gigs on Facebook! Alright, MJ, send us out with a little inspiration! “Life moves in waves; they either crash you out or move you on to another ocean. And all of this was not my genius. It was all just a happy accident!”
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See you around, Elko!