By SHELLY WILKISON
A short time ago, Janice Maynard was enjoying life as a Liberty Hill stay-at-home mom, singing in church from time to time, cutting demos and doing background vocals for a family band.
This week, she released her second CD and makes her debut as a songwriter.
“I’ll Take My Chances” is sure to light a fire with fans of Traditional Country Music, and as a writer, Mrs. Maynard proves she has what it takes to be taken seriously in a highly competitive industry.
After her first CD — “There’s a Better Way” — was released in 2010, her producer and friend Bobby Flores of Yellow Rose Records urged her to start writing because she needed her own original material. Until that time, she said she left the song writing to “the experts” — her husband, Ricky Maynard, and his brothers, Jerry and Steve Maynard of the San Antonio Rose Live Band.
“I saw no need to write because they were so good at it,” she said. “After two years, I finally sat down and did it.”
She has several original songs on the new release, including “Don’t Settle for a Spark,” a song she said was inspired by a candy wrapper on a Dove’s Dark Chocolate bar.
“It said ‘don’t settle for a spark when you can light a fire’,” she said, laughing at the notion that a candy wrapper inspired her to write a song.
The upbeat song, which she believes will receive the most radio exposure, “has a little attitude,” she said, adding that she typically shys away from “attitude.”
“It’s my ‘attitude-sey’ song, the fun girl song. But, I’m not really that girl, I don’t like to cause problems,” she laughed.
Over the years, Mrs. Maynard said she’s learned a lot about the music industry. From other songwriters, including her mentors Flores and legendary country artist Leona Williams, she learned to separate the song from her own feelings and her own life.
“Once I figured out how to do that, this (writing songs) became a lot easier,” she said.
Mrs. Maynard said another song on the CD, “The Man You’ve Turned Into”, came to her in a dream.
“I dreamed the whole thing,” she said. “The chorus and the words were in my head when I woke up one day.” She said she sang it to herself for the first time in the shower, got dressed and went to the piano.
“The song is about a wife who realizes she can’t satisfy her husband anymore,” she said. Mrs. Maynard said her husband teased her that she must have gone to bed mad at him the night before.
“Ideas come to me a lot when I’m in the shower or when I’m driving,” she laughed. “The words and the music just come to me, and then I sit at the piano and work it out. I know when it’s right, I hear it and feel it.”
Mrs. Maynard doesn’t describe herself as a musician. She did take piano lessons as a child, but hasn’t mastered it or any other instrument. She married at age 17 and had four children. She said there wasn’t time to learn an instrument, but “I could sing and wash dishes, and take care of kids.
“Vocally, I’m okay,” she said, humbly.
But others liken her sound to Country Music greats Lee Ann Womack, Rhonda Vincent and Tammy Wynette.
After getting to know the multi-talented Bobby Flores several years ago, she took vocal lessons and music theory classes at his Bulverde Academy of Music near San Antonio.
Flores and Mrs. Maynard are co-writers on several songs on her new CD.
Leona Williams also performs on the new CD. In fact, Ms. Williams contributed an original song, “Bad Girls”, which was originally written to be a duet with Dottie West who was killed in a traffic accident in 1991 before the song could be recorded.
“The song sat on a shelf all these years,” Mrs. Maynard said, adding that she was honored when Ms. Williams offered to share it with her.
Finding a Niche
Mrs. Maynard’s love for Traditional Country started as a child. Her father, who was an accomplished musician, had all of the classic country albums and she memorized every word singing along and mastering the traditional sounds.
While the genre of Country Music has changed through the years often becoming blurred with popular music, Mrs. Maynard’s preference for the traditional has not swayed. In fact, she says Traditional Country seems to be making a comeback, increasing in popularity among adults age 40 and older as well as young people.
Mrs. Maynard and her Country Stardust Band, which includes her husband, 16-year-old son on lead guitar and 18-year-old daughter singing backup, and brothers-in-law Jerry and Steve Maynard, performs regularly at dance halls across Central Texas. She said the concerts draw people of all ages, including families.
“I think that’s what I like the most about this genre of music,” she said. “It’s like going to a family reunion every weekend.
“I like the people involved in this type of music. There’s no drunken barroom fights,” she added. “Our kids are in the band. We do all the dance halls where entire families come out.
“I’ve found my niche and that is Traditional Country,” she said. “And I feel like part of my purpose here is to help keep it alive.”
Mrs. Maynard said her quick climb into Texas Country Music is truly a family effort. While the Country Stardust Band includes the talent of her own family, she said her daughter is also making a name for herself in fashion design.
“I’ve always loved to dress up,” Mrs. Maynard said. “My daughter does all of the embellishing on my jackets and clothing. She enjoys embroidery, and hand sews beads and sequins.”
Mrs. Maynard said the family plans to market Starwear Designs in the near future, and describes the look as “old school — you know, the Marty Stewart, Porter Waggoner suits, but with more of a modern, classy design.”
At age 40, Mrs. Maynard said she might not be the typical Country Music star. She graduated from Florence High School and married Ricky Maynard of Liberty Hill, and the two started a family and a business, Liberty Hill Septic and Excavation. Mrs. Maynard homeschooled her children.
Three years ago, she believed she was “too old” to make it in the business. But then one day she was at a Liberty Hill tanning salon where she read in a magazine about highly successful women who had raised families and waited until age 40 or older to start their careers.
“That sort of inspired me,” she said. “If they could do it, I could, too.”
Since that time, she has performed on television programs like the “Shotgun Red Variety Show” and “Tru Country” both broadcast on RFDTV.
“The more I do, the more I love it,” she said of her career.
Mrs. Maynard describes herself as “real simple, real country. All in all, this album is really me,” she said.
Learn more about Janice Maynard and the Country Stardust Band on FACEBOOK or visit www.janicemaynardmusic.com.