New giving back to Permian Basin fine arts - Odessa American: Education

New giving back to Permian Basin fine arts

By Ruth Campbell rcampbell@oaoa.com | Posted: Friday, December 13, 2019 4:00 am

Matt New, a former Odessan and contestant on “The Voice,” will be in concert at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center.

Proceeds will benefit fine arts programs at Ector County and Midland independent school districts.

New describes himself as a singer-songwriter who performs soul and pop music mainly. He’ll be performing with a group of the best musicians he could get from around the region and Midland.

His latest single is “L.A.” He added that he plays mainly guitar and keyboards. His parents bought him his first guitar when he was in eighth grade. He took a couple of lessons and taught himself everything else. The same was true of keyboards.

Singing since he was a youngster, New said he started singing in eighth or ninth grade in his church youth group at Calvary Baptist Church on Andrews Highway.

“I was really involved in my youth group and then I’d sing on Sunday mornings and it was you should hear those recordings. They’re pretty bad,” New said.

He grew up in Odessa and attended Permian Basin Christian, a small school that was part of their church that no longer exists. He was then home schooled his junior year and went to Permian High School for his senior year where he graduated in 2008.

“I just did my classes and hung out … I was playing a lot of music at home. At that point, I wasn’t confident enough to step out and I knew I loved it. I knew I wanted to do it, but I was also very, very timid at that point in my life,” New said.

He added that music touched him from a young age.

“I can remember listening to Whitney Houston in my dad’s 80s music. I vividly remember times when I was like 4 or 5 just sitting in the back of the car just watching and hearing things for the first time. That really translated to … me wanting to do that. When I was in sixth, seventh grade, I started throwing around the idea of OK, I can sing. I can carry a tune and I really love how music makes me feel. That’s all I knew then,” New said.

That’s where it started. For years, New said he put himself in situations where he could potentially fail, but he enjoyed it. He tried out for “The Voice” in 2017, but didn’t get any of the judges to pick him (turn their chairs around).

New said he and his wife, Kylie, were kind of devastated.

“Because we were like, wait a second. It’s really hard being an artist and being put in a competition like that’s like the worst thing to put a creative in. But there was something about that that I just I knew I wanted to get better and I was really grateful for that moment because it forced me to be in a position of going, ‘Are you going to give up, or do you really enjoy music? Is this really what you love to do?’”

“Fast forward two years later and a producer reached out and said you need to come back and do it again. He saw some of my content that I was putting out online, just cover videos, and I went back and it paid off this time, which was awesome,” New said.

This time, New said he got three chair turns. After that, he picked which judge’s team he wanted to be on and selected John Legend, a singer-songwriter, producer, actor and philanthropist.

When they get picked for a team, the coaches work with the artist to develop their skills, a Country Living article said. In the battle rounds, coaches pit two of their team members against each other and they sing the same song together.

“After their joint performance, the coach chooses which contestant will advance to the Knockouts. However, the losing singer’s journey may not end there: Each coach gets two chances to “steal” a contestant who wasn’t chosen by their own coach,” the article said.

“I ended up on John Legend’s team. I went to do my battle. I did my battle and lost my battle, so I lost the next round, which in hindsight is actually a really good thing for me …,” New said. “… I was able to get in some exposure and then get out and release that first single called ‘LA.’ I don’t think the song would exist without me losing the battle,” New said.

New said performing in front of established artists like Legend and Kelly Clarkson, was intense.

“John Legend is a legend, but he’s a role model to me. He’s a dad. He has kids. His music is phenomenal. Kelly Clarkson is the same way; all of them to a degree. But those two really stick out to me, and so to stand on a stage in dead silence, cameras everywhere and knowing their chairs turned around is I really can’t explain that moment. I don’t really know how to put it into words,” New said.

Before going on “The Voice,” New started an initiative called Music in the City in Midland to bring culture to downtown.

“… I would just bring in buddies from Nashville, so I was doing that for a little bit kind of playing locally in that kind of setting. Now since the show, everybody and their mother wants me to come play at their birthday party and Christmas party. So as much as I want to say yes to all those things, I just have to choose wisely …,” New said.

The show at the Wagner Noël was his first goal after he got off “The Voice” to thank people in both cities for all the support they showed him and do something for the next generation of musicians and singers.

“We created a fund called the Matt New Performing Arts Fund. It was a genius idea from MISD and ECISD, so we know what the funds from the show will go toward,” New said. “Basically anybody in performing arts within MISD, ECISD, teachers whatever can apply for proceeds from this fund and it can go directly towards their specific needs,” New added.

Organizing the show also came from a desire to give back.

“… I really do see the Permian Basin as it’s my upbringing; it’s my foundation; it’s home. And after the show, the support that we received was incredible, not just people that were fans of me and what I did but they were fans of our family, which is a big thing for us. We were able to tell our story really well. ‘The Voice’ producers did an incredible job of telling our story and we were getting really, really heartfelt messages of I have that same story, or you inspired me to keep going from multiple generations, old people, young people; people our age that are in the same battle that we are of parenting and just trying to raise kids and what that looks like. All that to say I wanted to put on a show just to say thank you; I hear you; I’m proud to be a part of the Permian Basin and I know it’s going to be really awesome,” New said.

New and his wife, Kylie, have two children, Shayne, who is 9, and Owen, who is 5. They just had their 10th anniversary.

He expressed appreciation to the Wagner Noël for letting him perform in the venue.

“… They are so generous and care about both communities so much,” New said. “It’s been amazing working with them. We’re just excited. We’re going to put on a great show. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a good time. It will be a family environment, so we’re hoping to sell out.”

Celeste Potter, director of the ECISD Education Foundation, said she’s got her tickets.

“On behalf of the Education Foundation and the students in Ector County, we’re just excited that a former student is going to give back. We’re just grateful and hope everybody comes out,” Potter said.

ECISD Executive Director of Fine Arts Aaron Hawley agreed.

“We’d just like to have everybody come out and join us for the concert. We’re very appreciative of what Matt is doing,” Hawley said.