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Voice A radio-show host finds her own rhythm while bringing attention to songwriters in northeast Mississippi and beyond. written by Melanie Crownover

The music room in Michaela Compton’s Saltillo home was the last gift her husband gave her. Less than 24 hours after the final touches were put on the instrument-filled space in 2007, the Las Vegas transplants were in a car accident on their way to perform with their Christian music outreach ministry. Michaela and her three children recovered from their injuries. David Compton did not. “I’d been in entertainment my entire life, and I gave it up when [David] passed away,” she said. “I sold every instrument except his guitar and Rickenbacker amp, got rid of the furniture and shut this room off from the rest of the house. It was like there was a dark cloud in there.”

photographed by Joe Worthem

For seven years, the room stayed sealed. Michaela went into survival mode, going out only to handle daily necessities for the family and to sing at church. Eventually, she began to believe she might find healing through music. An urge to create her own songs brought her out of seclusion. “It became an ongoing conversation between me and God about getting back out there,” she said. She sought out songwriters from local praise bands to learn the intricacies of the craft. Then she began sharing her discoveries in 2014 on “Devotion Song Café,” a live weekly show on Booneville’s Unity TV. But because the Christian network allowed her to include only

Christian artists, Michaela felt limited and decided to find another outlet for the songwriters. “I remember going to Mississippi Radio Group asking for 15 minutes of time — any time — even if it was the worst time of day for listeners,” she said. “I walked out with one hour a week of airtime in exchange for the show I’d been wanting to do.” That’s how her radio show, “Local Licks,” got its start. The idea was simple: one hour of songwriters sharing their songs acoustically on the air, with laid-back conversations about the artists and their work. Each guest would get at least a 30-minute spot. The show would be audio-only to keep the session intimate, and all music genres would be accepted. The one rule March 2018 | INVITATION


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