By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
Cody soon developed a natural style that wasn't just an aping of some countryesque mannerism. And she has yet to have a real voice lesson.
"Well, I got my voice from my mom," Cody says. "I don't know, it just comes out. I haven't really heard other kids in bands, except for a few. I think it's cool. A lot of people can be really good dancers or do other stuff others don't do. I dunno, I guess I feel kinda special."
As a toddler, Cody and her parents traveled the West in an RV they called home. Her father, Bob, had made a fortune in the Southwestern art and jewelry and Indian artifact business, then promptly lost it. They lost their 10,000-square-foot home in Payson and their fancy cars as Bob was forced to start over again.
Though nearly destitute--they tell of times when they couldn't afford gas to get to the next city--the roving lifestyle provided an opportunity for Debbie to tutor Cody in an atmosphere of constant scenery change and movement. And for Cody, at least, excitement.
When Cody was old enough to start kindergarten, the couple enrolled her in the academically slanted New Vistas, a nonreligious, 300-student private school in Chandler. That year the family lived in the RV with no phone. For weeks they kept it in Queen Creek, parked in somebody's back yard. For six months they rented space at an RV park.
Cody's tuition was nearly $400 a month. On months when the Macys couldn't make tuition payments, Bob Macy would do work around the New Vistas campus to compensate. But both parents agreed to give Cody the best education they could, an opportunity neither of them had. It was certainly a different existence from that of Cody's classmates, most of whom came from families in a high tax bracket.
Mom had tutored Cody well--so well, in fact, that by the time she started kindergarten, she had already mastered her multiplication tables and could read and write.
The staff at New Vistas promptly moved Cody up from kindergarten to second grade, and she has stayed two grades ahead ever since, never earning anything but A's.
"When Cody came into kindergarten for one day, and knew multiplication, we knew that we shouldn't have her in there," laughs Kyle Ogilvie, a teacher at New Vistas. "When Cody came to us, she knew so much already, and that is because of her parents.
"Cody's parents are wonderful people, wonderful parents. And if something needed fixing, then the dad was always here to help us, or if we needed an errand to run, the mom would do it. Cody is one of the most outgoing and sweetest young ladies I have ever met. We never had a problem with her. Behaviorwise, academically, there was never a problem with her at the school. She was well-liked by everyone, her peers and her teachers."
At the end of every school year, New Vistas students would put on a program. Cody always sang a solo.
"She could just sing so well at such a young age, her voice is unbelievable," says Ogilvie.
Without a phone, a car payment, an electric bill or credit cards, the Macys worked and saved enough money to purchase a home. Their business was starting to do well.
They found their current Chandler home on the market as a fixer-upper; it had been used as a meth lab, motorcycles in the living room, the whole bit. It even has secret passageways. Bob Macy managed to buy the house using more charm than credit. Since then, the value of the property has nearly tripled.
The Macys' yellow, three-bedroom ranch house sits on a five-acre grange and is bordered to the east by neoteric beige-toned sprawl and to the west by the projects. The expansive green backyard is home to a mix of farm animals, many of whom Cody helped deliver. There are pigs, goats, cows, chickens, ducks, dogs and a horse.
In the center of the yard, hay bales and a chicken coop flank a large barn.
Debbie says neighborhood kids call her husband "Mr. Farmer Man." Inside, the house has a cozy feel, one that evokes a sleepy sensation, like any moment could be a Sunday afternoon. Household scents blend with mammalian odors from outside.
The carpeted interior is done up with Southwestern motif and is decorated with antiques, kachinas and other Western artifacts. In the living room, there is a skeleton of a saguaro cactus, a wrought-iron fireplace and Western landscape paintings. In one corner sits an antiquated organ. The opposite corner is dominated by a large-screen TV.
Cody has some of her pets in cages; there's a ferret, small frogs, crabs and a couple of turtles. She says if she can't be a singer, she'll be a veterinarian.
After sixth grade, Cody wanted to switch to public school, and did. She spent the past school year in seventh grade at Willis Junior High in Chandler.
"Cody is smart in more ways than just book smart," says Willis principal Bob Bollard. "Cody as a student seems to have a sense to know when it is time to chill and know when it is time to have fun, and can separate the two. Cody's mom is a good, solid parent volunteer for the school, always pitching in to help. They are a very supportive family. I wish we had more parents like them."