“I am a seventh generation Texan. My parents divorced when I was seven and my mother started dating a man with a car dealership. They had been together for two years when he flew to Mississippi in the summer of 1991 for a job interview. I was flipping through the TV channels with my mom and sister and my mom’s boyfriend, Jackie Sherrill, was on ESPN accepting the head football coaching job at Mississippi State.
What the hell did that mean? We had never even seen a football game and knew nothing about football. Mom was so mad that she didn’t talk to him for three days. He flew home with a ring and proposed and said he loved us and wanted us to go with him and be a family.They married on August 2nd and two-a-day practices started the next day. We moved to Starkville.
Jackie had me work with him on the sidelines carrying the cord to his headphones. His two rules were ‘pay attention to the ball’ and ‘stay close.’ I learned the hard way to follow them.
I think Jackie understood he had an angry 12-year-old girl on his hands and he didn’t know how to handle girls. He realized the only way for us to get to know each other was if I came into his world. In the beginning, I wasn’t good at his rules. He took off running down the sidelines and when he outran the cord, his head would snap back and the headphones would fly off. He would scream my ass out. That happened a lot because I would lollygag or look at the players or the crowd.
One game I wasn’t paying attention and heard, “Ball!” I looked up and saw No. 66 — a 6-foot-6, 420-pound offensive lineman named Jason Weisner — coming at me, fast.
Bam. It was lights out for me on the sidelines. They stopped the game. I was laying on the ground and my pride was hurt worse than anything because all of the players were laughing at me. Jackie wouldn’t let anyone help me up and said, ‘She can get up on her own.’
I wanted him to reach down, pick me up and hold me and ask me if I was okay. But it didn’t happen like that and I realized that wasn’t how I was going to be treated on the sidelines. I would have to be tough and get up on my own. I pulled myself up, brushed my ass off and limped along the sidelines the rest of the game.
I never took my eye off the ball again and that lesson has been my strength and motivation in the music business. I knew I was talented, and by 23 I thought I would be the “next Britney Spears.” But music, like working the sidelines, has humbled me and brought out her perseverance.
I had my ass kicked repeatedly with many lessons about music and building character. You have to be tough enough to survive and to keep digging deep. It is not about being famous or proving to anyone that I can do this. God gave me a gift to sing and it can make a positive difference and impact people’s lives. I feel honored that I have that gift and will dig deeper to develop what it takes.”
(Bonnie Bishop is playing tonight at Callaghan’s Irish Social Club)