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Kansas country singer takes big stage

By Ron Wilson

From a small town to the big stage. That’s a journey which many entertainers have attempted, and it is a tough road.

Today we’ll meet a singer-songwriter who is making such a journey. He is not forgetting his small town roots. In fact, he is honoring them. Logan Mize is a rising star in country music. He is a Kansas native, having grown up at Clearwater, population 2,173 people. That’s rural – but there’s more.

Logan’s father grew up at the community of Turon, population 432. Now, that’s rural.In Clearwater, Logan’s grandfather Nolan Mize owns the grocery store named Mize Thriftway.  Logan started working there at age 12. Logan took piano lessons as a kid and then got into sports.

He went to some country music concerts and they made a deep impression. In the back of his mind, a seed was planted. But his immediate concerns were sports and school. He played football so well that he had the opportunity to play at Hutchinson Community College and study agriculture. He was then recruited to play at Southern Illinois University.

Meanwhile, he had taken up the guitar and begun writing and performing songs. Southern Illinois University is located only a three-hour drive from Nashville.

Logan started going to Nashville and learning about the country music scene. He decided to give it a try.What followed sounds like the lyrics of a country music song, or maybe the plot of a movie:  Small town Kansas boy goes to Nashville, goes through hard times, meets a good woman and hits it big.

Logan arrived in Nashville with just $60 and a tank of gas. He got a job as a dump truck driver. That and other odd jobs allowed him to stay in Nashville until he signed his first songwriting deal.Logan’s first album, “Logan Mize,” was released in 2009.

It was followed in 2012 with “Nobody in Nashville,” which charted to number 49 on Billboard Country Albums Chart and number 15 on Billboard Heatseekers Albums Chart. Logan has reconnected with his family roots in country music.

While in his early 20s, he learned that his great-uncle Billy Mize (a Kansas native) had been a pioneer in country music in California. The elder Mize, now in his eighties, helped popularize the Bakersfield country sound made famous by Buck Owens and Merle Haggard in the 1960s. “When I found out about him, I really researched the Bakersfield sound,” Logan said. “Buck Owens was in Billy’s band. (Billy) even co-founded the ACM (Academy of Country Music).” Logan is now carrying on that family tradition. He has been the opening act for Lady Antebellum, Leann Rimes, Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, The Band Perry, Charlie Daniels Band, Blake Shelton, Stoney LaRue, Billy Currington, and a special tribute with Merle Haggard.

In fall 2013, he accompanied Leann Rimes on a tour of the United Kingdom in Glasgow, London, Birmingham and Manchester. He has also appeared on national television.  He was in a widely viewed “Fabric Of Our Lives” cotton commercial with a star of the ABC-TV show Nashville. He and his band are shown performing on stage at Music City’s legendary Station Inn.

Logan also played himself and sang with his band in an episode of The CW’s hit drama Hart of Dixie. Logan has even been named the state’s Official Kansas Tourism Ambassador by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism. From a small town to the big stage.  That’s a challenging journey which many entertainers have attempted, but Logan Mize is making it happen.

As he performed in front of thousands of screaming fans on the big stage at Country Stampede, it must have been exciting to think of his small town roots.We commend Logan Mize for making a difference as an ambassador for Kansas. And there’s more.

Remember the movie plot where he met a good woman? The good woman whom he met in real life is a Nashville performer and a Kansan as well. We’ll learn about that next week.

The writer is director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

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