Encore December 2015

Page 35


Second Home

Singer Meagan McNeal’s career began in Kalamazoo J. Gabriel Ware




oul and R&B singer Meagan McNeal was born and raised in Chicago, and her music career has led to her living in Los Angeles and Phoenix and touring in Europe. But the Western Michigan University graduate, who lives back in Chicago now, claims Kalamazoo as her second home. “The mayor of Kalamazoo, Bobby Hopewell, promoted my show on Facebook one of the last times I came to Kalamazoo,” the 29-year-old says. “I don’t get that anywhere else.” Not only is Kalamazoo where McNeal visited a farmers’ market for the first time and discovered locally grown, organic food, but it is also where she launched her solo career. McNeal had her first playing gig at Kalamazoo’s Fire Historical and Cultural Arts Collaborative. “It was August 18, 2007. I’ll never forget the date because that was the night I first thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, I can really do this and make a career out of this,’” she says. “It was the best 75 bucks I made in my life.”

Meagan McNeal launched her singing career performing in Kalamazoo.

McNeal arrived in Kalamazoo in 2004 to attend WMU, a decision she admits didn’t come about as a result of an elaborate, thoughtout process. “I just picked the first university that visited my high school, and that school just happened to be Western Michigan University,” she says. As a first-generation college student, McNeal had a hard time adjusting to life away from friends and family, she says, so she began to build close relationships with some of the WMU faculty and joined the Delta Sigma Theta sorority in 2007. McNeal started learning about Kalamazoo’s arts and entertainment scene and found her niche at Fire, where she connected with other aspiring musicians. She graduated from WMU in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in sales and business marketing, and in 2011, released her first album, Mindset. One of the songs on the album is called "RainWalk." w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 35

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