Franklin Central student has been featured on “Nashville Spotlight”
Southsider Voice correspondent
Megan Manning isn’t your average 17-year-old high school student. She’s also an equestrian, a National Honor Society member, a dance marathon committee member and a recording artist. When she isn’t participating in extracurricular activities, she attends Franklin Central.
Manning has been featured on “Nashville Spotlight” and will head back to Nashville, Tenn., next month to participate in her second “Spotlight Showcase” during Country Music Awards weekend.
“She has determined very early on what she wants her career path to be and what she is required to do to get to that point,” said Mike Manning, her father. He added that he and his wife, Donna, can get her in a proper environment, but “getting there the rest of the way is simply only through Megan’s drive for her goals.”
She began singing publicly in the fifth grade, with her first performance being Kelly Clarkson’s “Walk Away” during a talent show in front of several hundred fellow students, parents and family. According to Mr. Manning, many still come up to him recounting how amazed they were by her performance that night.
Manning, who received several awards as a soloist in middle school, said she has enjoyed every minute of the recording process so far, though she added that one of the most difficult aspects is standing still while singing to avoid unnecessary noise on the recording. Although it’s getting harder for her to find places to perform due to her age, she sings every year at the Johnson County Fair and other venues.
“The best part of my career is getting my music out to an audience that can listen to it and connect to it,” said Manning, who is scheduled to release her second album this summer. “The most challenging part is what to say when you talk to an audience between songs. The most interesting part is having strangers know your name because of your music; it’s a really strange yet totally awesome feeling.
“Some of the most fun we have (in recording sessions) is going into random, dancing and playing while we are waiting on the music to play back in our headphones. All of the songs on my EP (extended play album) and my new album are 100 percent original. I write the lyrics, assemble a feel of the song and then Mike Perry and Phil Elmore help me polish it and get it to a finished product.”
Studio owner and engineer Perry started the recording process with Manning back in early 2013, when her father gave her studio time as a Christmas present. Perry said he believes that Manning truly “has a gift when it comes to writing and singing.
“Megan has accomplished more in a couple of years than most do in many years,” said Perry. “She is paying her dues and learning every time she has an opportunity. I always encouraged her to perform and work with whomever and whenever she has the opportunity, as every musician has something different to offer.”
Elmore, producer of Manning’s records, has known her for more than two years. She walked into Lightning Struck Studio in Clayton, Ind., with her parents following a suggestion from Perry.
“I wasn’t expecting much from a teen who played piano a little and hadn’t performed publicly much, but Megan turned out to be a big surprise,” said Elmore. He noted that Manning has a strong character and has not let her talent get the best of her, citing her loyalty and patience as examples and saying that she is dedicated to getting things right.
“Megan has always proven to be dedicated, hardworking, loyal and trustworthy,” said Mike. “It is Megan’s ambition and drive that has gotten her to this point. Donna, I and our families provide the support system, and, of course, her live studio audience for testing and rehearsals.”
Elmore said Manning’s parents “have facilitated a very active performance schedule for Megan in the last couple of years.” And because of that, she has gained a level of experience and professionalism that engenders envy in her contemporaries.
“Megan’s family has given her all the support she could ever ask for and more. It is a team effort,” said Perry.
Another interest of Manning’s is horses, and she has been showing her horse locally, regionally and nationally since she was 7. “From the second I sat on a horse, I knew it was going to be a large part of my life, and I’ve never grew out of the ‘I love horses’ phase.
“I enjoy having the opportunity to help people, so when the chance for the National Honor Society came up, I jumped at it.”
She added that it is challenging to balance all of her activities with school. Upon completing her homework, it’s off to the barn if she’s not heading to the studio.
After graduating from Franklin Central, Manning, whose website is www.megan-manning.com, plans to major in business and equine science in college, with a minor in music composition and theory.
“My favorite part of music is being able to connect with an audience,” said Manning. “I love it when someone can really relate to what I’m singing or writing about. Whatever you want, you can achieve with hard work and determination. Be thankful for every mistake and wrong turn that you’ve made because maybe it will give you something to write about.”