Provo is a hot spot for good music. Mindy Gledhill has been in the scene since the beginning and has been shaping it with her sound and influence, as a musician, a mother and a Mormon.
Mindy the musician
Gledhill’s story isn’t the typical one of an accomplished LDS singer and songwriter. She wasn’t constantly pushed to learn an instrument by a parent; she didn’t sing in church choirs or school musicals, and she didn’t practice classical pieces for hours a day to perform them in a stuffy recital hall. In fact, she did mostly the opposite.
After taking piano lessons off and on as a child, she found her love for making music and singing and tried pursuing it through choirs and theater but never made the parts she auditioned for.
“I wasn’t making it into anything,” Gledhill said. “But I wanted to.”
At 16, she took matters into her own hands. Her family couldn’t pay for voice lessons because her father was unemployed at the time, so she got her own job to pay for lessons. She later got an internship at a recording studio and started a band.
“I just decided that because I wasn’t getting into these things, I was just going to start my own thing. So that’s what I did,” Gledhill said.
She continued on to college, attending BYU with the hope of getting into a performing arts major. Her luck was much the same as in high school; she didn’t make it into the programs she wanted. She was rejected by the women’s chorus, the music dance theater major, Young Ambassadors and even a casual fireside group, which she laughs about today.
Gledhill finally made a breakthrough when she found the major, and subsequently the career, she was looking for: media music.
“I kind of feel like all of those years of not making it into anything was really just guiding me into where I needed to be. I wasn’t a choral singer; I wasn’t a musical theater singer; I was a pop singer. I felt like it was finally where I needed to be,” Gledhill said.
Gledhill signed a record contract within a year of being accepted to the program with Excel Entertainment, a company that produces LDS-based music and film for artists like Julie De Azevedo and Kenneth Cope and films like “God’s Army” and “The Other Side of Heaven.” With Excel she made her first album, “The Sum of All Grace,” a collection of both original and arranged Christian songs.
After the first album’s success, she and the label started on another. In the middle of recording, she left the label and bought her way out of her contract.
“I wanted to make an album that people could relate with in different cultures, and in different religions and on the other side of the world, not just LDS people,” Gledhill said.
Since then, Gledhill has been independent and has released two more albums, which gained popularity largely because of her own promotion on social media and her live performances.
“I like the energy she puts into her shows. It’s catchy. She’s got a great sound that I think fans can dance and rock out to,” said Richard Olsen, a UVU student who helps promote Lindsey Stirling, another Provo musician.
“If you’ve ever seen her in concert, she’s got this kind of quirky, cute, yet very geniune and real vibe that I think people connect with and connect with very quickly,” said Nate Drachil, Gledhill’s manager.
Gledhill played for the Rooftop Concert Series last summer in front of a crowd of about 3,000 people and is currently touring around the United States.
“What I really get out of her music are her live sets,” said Aimee Vargas, a TV talent recruiter for Refinement Productions. “Her music uplifts you, and it’s something that you can fall back to when you’re feeling pretty down.”
Gledhill was also featured on EDM musician Kaskade’s Grammy-nominated album “Fire and Ice” in 2011 in the song “Eyes.” The album hit No. 17 overall on the billboard charts and No. 1 on the dance/electronic album charts.
“Her music just makes you feel good,” said Kaisha Ozuna, a volunteer at local indie venue The Velour. “She just seems like such a genuine person. I like it.”
Mindy the mom
Gledhill married while in school at 19 and had her first son at 20. Her son is now 13, and she has two other sons, a 10-year-old and a 2-year-old.
While many would say having kids while living the musician lifestyle would be impossible, Gledhill says her family is what drives her music.
“My family gives my music purpose. They keep me grounded and make me do what I do better.”
Drachil has compared Gledhill to Wendy, the adventure-loving girl from the classic tale Peter Pan.
“Her boys are a little wild,” Drachil said. “She tells them stories, she encourages them in their imaginations, she enables them, she makes it possible for them to really just be that idea of what boyhood should be. Her music has not only been a way to express that but to allow her to enable it.”
It isn’t easy, though.
“Early on, the kids would come with us on tour, and it was hard. Imagine having a baby and a car seat when you’re out of town, and you’re needing to nurse your baby and change their diaper. There were some seriously exhausting and difficult days,” Drachil said.
Now that Gledhill’s kids are older, they can stay home with her husband. But when she had her third baby, he had to come along.
“When our youngest son was four months old, I released a Christmas album, and we took him on tour with us. He was a really difficult baby, and he didn’t really like my husband until a little later. So while I was playing, my husband would hold our baby backstage, and he would just scream. Sometimes I could hear him screaming while I was playing onstage. There’s a reality to it,” Gledhill said.
Drachil said Gledhill’s priorities are always with her family while she’s on tour, and even to the families of her band.
“When we do tours, she has gone out of pocket to pay for the band to fly out to a tour on the East Coast and back, because that meant less time on the road for her and for her band members. She’s still dedicated to the idea of family,” Drachil said.
Mindy the Mormon
Gledhill grew up as a Mormon, being raised in California and Spain in an LDS family.
“Being raised in the church is a huge part of my identity as a person and who I am. I think it’s probably a big part of my music,” Gledhill said.
She sees her music as more than just an expression of what she feels but as a vehicle for her to share it with others.
“I really feel like being a musician is a calling for me in a lot of ways, and a way of extending God’s love to other people. That brings me joy, and I feel purpose in that,” Gledhill said.
Drachil explained that Gledhill uses her music not only to teach but also to raise important questions.
“If you’ve listened to her latest album you’d know that a lot of it is about asking questions while yet being fine with the fact that she doesn’t have all the answers. But she knows that she’ll get to them, because she’s dedicated to that; it’s just a matter of time,” Drachil said.
Gledhill also uses her music to help people find truth and understand what their purpose in life is, whether they come from an LDS background or not.
“I think the whole idea of self-expression, adventure, finding your purpose and understanding what you’re really meant to be doing is a truth that resonates with people,” Gledhill said. “If that’s something I can share, that people have a purpose and that there is more to them than what meets the eye and what they’re currently doing with their life, then yes, that’s accomplishing my mission.”