This week, we’re joined by singer/songwriter, Cody Summer of Cody Summer Music. Now, this feature on Cody may be a little different from past “Small Business Friday” articles as Cody Summer Music would be more defined as a “brand” compared to the brick and mortar businesses AAT has spoken with before. However, that’s ok; Cody Summer is still in the business of providing an excellent service to the area as a resident of Carlin.
On top of being a recording artist, Cody has either worked or currently works as a missionary, director of an orphanage in India, and teacher of piano and guitar. She is married to a rancher and homeschools her two children of four and six-years-old. However, that is only the tip of the guitar pick! As you’re about to read, Cody Summer had to go on quite the adventure to get where she currently is in her music career and her faith. So, instead of asking her multiple interview questions, I (Anthony Crosby) am mainly going to step back and have her share her journey with us.
“When I was a kid, I was in a church choir; that was my introduction to singing. My family and I attended a big church down in Southern California, where I was born. When I was twelve, I decided I wanted to learn how to play the piano; I took a recording of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata,sat down and studied it. I learned it piece by piece. Once I had fully learned it, that opened so many doors for me to learn whatever else I wanted, basically.”
“By the time I got to college, I was avoiding studying and focusing on music because I didn’t think it would be a realistic thing to do for a career; it was mostly just a hobby idea, and I didn’t want to be a music teacher. However, there was no other way for me to pay for school as I got a full-ride vocal scholarship and was involved with a jazz vocal group.”
“I also received a full-ride, paramedic and fire-science scholarship. I was working at a fire station full-time, while also touring with the jazz vocal group. I would be away a lot of the times, missing drills until they told me I needed to choose to either be a firefighter/paramedic or focus on my music. I went with the music.”
“After that, I transferred to the University of Wyoming. I still had my scholarship, but I had to work for a couple of different ranches and donate plasma to get through school. I did a lot of opera while I was there. When I’d walk into class, I’d be wearing Wranglers and boots and all the other girls would be dressed like, well, opera singers; I really stood out.”
“With all my night work on the ranches, I was pretty tired all of the time. When you’re performing, you must have a lot of energy to do it; if you’re not well rested, it affects your voice! They told me I needed to stop working so much and focus on music.”
“By the end of the year, I was burned out, so I got a job as a buckaroo for a large outfit in South Eastern Oregon. On that ranch, there was no cell service, no radio, the mail came three days a week, and I was the only girl on the crew. I worked there for about a year, and during that time I got run down, beat up, and bucked off my horse a couple of times. Once, I landed on my hip while I already had a cracked rib. I didn’t realize how bad the injury was at the time.”
“After that year, I left that job to work at another ranch in Wyoming. My job was to oversee a group of two-hundred cows that I had to keep within a certain area of the forest during specific times of the Summer; I was basically the fence that kept the cows where they belonged because there were no actual fences up there.”
“The problem was, grizzly bears would come in and run my cows off, kill them, and eat them; wolves were trouble too. The only way up to the service where I was working, was on a horse, four-wheeler, foot, or by flying in. So, being there for an entire Summer, I kept dogs with me and a gun that I packed all the time! The riskiest part was when I did find a kill because I had to report on it back to Game & Fish, and then come back with them so they could confirm that the cause of death was a grizzly. Since bears like to keep their kills, those would have been the moments when they would be most likely to attack. They would come close sometimes, but I had packed a 44, 357, and had a shotgun inside my cabin!”
“When it came to time to ship my cows out, I drove them down the switchbacks of Wyoming, and met a crew, from Montana, in the middle of a canyon where we would go on an all-day drive to where they need to be hauled out. My (now) husband happened to be on this crew. We spent all day together in drag (the back of the cattle drive) which is the most boring place to be most of the time, so we had nothing to do but visit!”
“We dated for a couple of months, got married, and moved around to different spots. During that time, my hip injury started to get worse; it became a horrible pain. I would be walking on level ground, and my hip would give out. Eventually, the doctors I had been seeing told me I needed to quit working. As someone who has always been very active, this was crushing to me. My husband and I had counted on us working together; we expected that to be our life. Furthermore, as a cowboy, my entire identity was wrapped up in how hard I could work. I always needed to be proving that I was tough. When they told me I needed to quit, it crushed my view of who I was.”
“My injury also affected my diaphragm to where it wasn’t working properly, so I couldn’t sing anymore. There was a stretch of four years where I couldn’t sing, and the doctors couldn’t figure out where the pain was coming from or what was going on. I had given up hope of getting well, and I just decided to let my life go. Everything I always thought I would be doing with my life I had to lay down.”
“After a while, we moved to Montello, Nevada and lived there for six years. When we were there, we found an orthopedic specialist working in Salt Lake City. I went to see him, and he immediately knew what was wrong. It was a hip impingement that they only put a name on about seven years ago; they said it was one of the worst cases they had ever seen. Long story short, I had surgery, and the doctor did an excellent job.”
“Now, the entire reason for doing the surgery was so I could go back to work and get my life back. However, I ended up getting pregnant a month after the surgery! At that moment was when I realized I needed to surrender it all to the Lord, finally.”
“Through the course of the pregnancy, my voice started coming back and healing. As I started to sing again, I remembered that God had been teaching me about worship through everything that happened, and it became my passion! There was a little church in Wendover that didn’t have a worship leader, so I started leading worship there.”
“I started the process of working with someone in Elko to make a demo, and then I attended a music conference in Nashville, Tennessee. On the last day of the conference, I met and started talking with a producer. I brought him the demo, he listened to it, and we ended up recording an EP. Right after my second child was born, I went back and recorded my full-length album. I haven’t had much of an outlet to sing since moving to Carlin. I’ve been focusing a lot of my songwriting, but I’m available to sing if anybody is looking for someone! That’s about where I’m at right now!”
Thank you for sharing your journey with us. What are your goals for yourself and your music brand moving forward? “I want to be able to sing truth. I want to write worship music based on the word of God. Right now, I’m being mentored by an integrity songwriter out of Nashville. I’m also working with some other integrity songwriters, called Brave Worship, and we’re thinking about going over to Ireland to teach worship pastors how to write worship music.”
Finally, what would you say you learned most going through all the different things you had to endure in your story to be where you are today? “I’ve thought a lot about the power of God to redeem what’s broken. There’s nothing He can’t fix and put back together. All we have to do is surrender it all to Him.”
If you would like to contact Cody or you simply wish to check out her music, you can do so here:
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See you around, Elko!