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The singer bursts onto the scene from the back of the dance floor. As she struts toward the stage, her movements incorporate a kind of odd, sinless swagger, as innocent as a young girl's first goodnight kiss. Her entrance is, nonetheless, full of sassy, pop-star self-certainty.
She wears flared blue-jean hip-huggers, a white Calvin Klein shirt and platform shoes, and as she hops onto the stage, her delicate brown bangs bounce above big limpid eyes. She faces the crowd with a smile that stretches across her soft face. A smile that says all is well, and all will be well.
When she sings, everything around her--save for the worthy chimes of her five-piece backing band--comes to a halt. The laughing stops, the drinking stops, the smoking stops. Even a jaded, seen-it-all bartender puts down the glass she's washing and pays attention.
The singer tackles the ageless Righteous Brothers' hit "Unchained Melody," and the venue is crammed from floor to ceiling, entrance to exit, with her voice. Its warm, low, sexily distorted tones suddenly shoot three octaves up to a register that rings like a bell.
Goose bumps rise to the occasion.
Her voice pulls unwitting dancers to the floor. They swing, they jig in place, and mostly they stare at the source of this remarkable sound. Two children, not a day over 6, twist and gyrate, circling the grown-ups like buzzing bees.
The singer's vocal gifts are a reminder that true singing is limited to a chosen few. Her rhythm, her concept of melodic time and phrasing are instinctual.
She also possesses rare charisma, that ability to make people want to know more about her, to want a piece of her.
Most of the crowd for Cody Lynn Macy's CD-release party at Mesa's Country City know these things. Even the prepubescent boys, some of whom will stand in line to purchase a CD or a tee shirt, or wait for the singer to autograph color promo photos or even the shirts they wear.
But the uninitiated, those who aren't familiar with Cody, who just came in and give a cursory glance toward the stage, are shocked that such a full sound could come from such a tiny package. She isn't five feet tall. Juxtaposed against the boys in the band, she could be a dwarf.
But really, the diminutive singer with the huge voice is a girl, just a little 11-year-old girl, who should be in fifth grade.
A big bull noses in not five feet away from where Cody Lynn Macy sits for a photographer. She's in the yard of her Chandler home, which is also home to lots of farm animals.
She looks over to her mother, Debbie, who stands 50 feet across the yard, coyly blinks her oversize brown eyes, and says, "I hope it happens to me, that would be it."
It very well might.
Cody has recorded two CDs, and the big record labels are calling. She gets a steady stream of fan letters. Her admirers include country stars like Pam Tillis, Toby Keith, Brooks & Dunn, Dixie Chicks, LeAnn Rimes, Ty Herndon and Montgomery Gentry.
Those who surround her--whether they be established stars, published songwriters or the guys in the Tyler Guthrie Stampede band, which backs her--believe her rise is inevitable. They speak not of "if" Cody will become a national act, but "when."
And all this attention is through word of mouth, which has been building ever since Cody's first public performance, which took place when she was but 3 years old in South Dakota. The family had been invited to a friend's ranch so Cody could watch a horse being broken. Somebody asked Cody to sing for all the cowboys in attendance. Cody obliged with the one song to which she knew all the words, the Hank Williams chestnut "Hey Good Lookin'."
All the cowboy jaws dropped.
A year later, in '91, at a swap meet in Southern California, Cody stepped on a stage for the first time. She wore a cowboy hat. The band let her run through "Hey Good Lookin'," and the crowd went wild. She was invited back every Sunday. It was there that Cody earned her first professional pay--a $1 tip from a zealous audience member.
Country music has been a big part of Cody's upbringing.
Her mother, Debbie, was once an aspiring kid country star herself, but she didn't get the breaks that one of her contemporaries, Tanya Tucker, enjoyed. Debbie left the entertainment world behind at age 16 with no regrets. But she took up singing again when her daughter showed an interest.
"When Cody came along, I started singing with her in just little things until she got the nerve to do it by herself," Debbie Macy says. "I would just sing back-up, or I would sing harmony on a chorus for her little school shows, little nursery shows, Bible-school stuff. And as soon as she was brave enough to do it on her own--or even a little before that, because I never wanted her to feel like she needed me there--I just sat back. That was it."