October 18 - 31, 2014
Fledgling country singer’s career like a ‘dream’ BY CHRISTINA FUOCO-KARASINSKI
Playing Country Thunder, opening for Kenny Chesney at University of Phoenix Stadium, and singing with Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland at AkChin Pavilion sound like dream gigs to any unsigned artist. But country singer Mary Hoffman, formerly of Chandler, has accomplished that and more in her short career. “I’ve gone from playing in my bedroom to stuff you dream of,” says an effervescent Hoffman. “You imagine yourself in your room on a big stage, rocking out. Then it just happened. I don’t even have a record deal and I get to do stuff like that. I’m so grateful.” The Mesa resident, who plays The Wigwam in Litchﬁeld Park nearly every week, will showcase her material on Thursday, Nov. 13, at the Mesa Arts Center’s Out to Lunch Concert Series. “That’s going to be cool,” says the married mother of a 6-year-old son. “That’s always a blast. They’re there for the music. They actually care to listen.”
Longtime musician The daughter of an aerospace engineer, Hoffman bounced around the United States, living in West Virginia, Ohio and Arizona before graduating from Mountain View High School in 1999. One thing remained constant throughout her formative years—her love of music.
“Growing up, my parents played a little bit of country,” she says. “But I was raised on The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel. “My mom and dad had all those old records. My mom played them over and over, especially The Beatles’ ‘Let It Be.’” The tide turned, however, when she heard Martina McBride’s “Independence Day.” “I thought, ‘What is this music?’” she recalls. “‘What is this music that means something?’ After that, I was just hooked.” Besides McBride, Hoffman was inspired by Reba McEntire, Whitney Houston and Jewel. Alaskan singersongwriter Jewel, known for her song “You Were Meant for Me,” is the reason why Hoffman picked up the acoustic guitar. “If you sing and play the guitar, you don’t have to rely on anyone else,” says Hoffman, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in communications from ASU. “That’s what I thought was so cool about her. She could just play the guitar and sing—and everybody’s just mesmerized.” Hoffman, who released a self-titled limited edition EP, is working on a fulllength album. She’s taking everything she learned from the Chesney, Sugarland and Country Thunder shows and rolling it into her own performance and sound.
“I’ve been watching concerts since I was 10 years old,” she says. “I’d have VHS tapes of Garth Brooks and Reba. I’d watch those tapes over and over. “Now I take notes of what I saw at Country Thunder, or Cardinals stadium.” Hoffman opened for Chesney during his 2008 “Poets and Pirates Tour” after winning a local band competition. The bill also featured appearances by Gary Allan, Keith Urban, Sammy Hagar and Uncle Kracker. “The stage was so big,” she says with her brownish-hazel eyes open wide. “The chairs just kept getting smaller as I was looking up. I had to stop looking up because it was so crazy. “The funniest thing though, was doing sound check. The bass drum was so intense that it threw me off the stage. Doing that every week would be so amazing. That would be insane.” Mary Hoffman performs from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13, at the Mesa Arts Center’s Out to Lunch Concert Series, One E. Main St., Mesa. Tickets are free. For more information, call (480) 644-6500. For a complete list of her shows, visit www.maryhoffman. net/gig/. Christina Fuoco-Karasinski is the executive editor of the SanTan Sun News. She can be reached at christina@ santansun.com.
STUFF DREAMS ARE MADE OF: Mary Hoffman, a former Chandler resident, has evolved as an artist after sharing stages with Kenny Chesney and Sugarland. Submitted