Utah Mom Lives Second Life As Aspiring Rapper
UTAH COUNTY, Utah — Not all superheroes wear capes, but a secret identity is a must.
“He’s just very into drawing on the walls and on the stairs,” said Dixie Mann, as she worked with a rag to remove a bit of abstract artwork from the steps of her home.
Right now, her Fortress of Solitude is silent.
“The only reason the house is clean is because my kids are at a soccer game,” Mann said. “It is easier when they’re not here, because I can focus.”
Among her powers, super speed and super patience — but she’s got an aversion to the typical term.
“It sounds like a directive to me: ‘Stay at home, mom,'” Mann said with a laugh. “I actually prefer the old school term, ‘homemaker,’ because it describes what I do a lot better.”
A glimpse of the games, or a glance at the books, and you might think you’ve got her figured out.
“On the outside, I look very typical, seem very typical, Utah lady,” Mann laughed. “I’m not, really.”
She certainly does have a secret identity — it may be the homemaker, or it may be the other persona — even she can’t say for sure.
“Sometimes I say ‘Yeah, I’m a rapper,” said Mann. “I get looked up and down, because I am not what you would expect a rapper to look like.”
Back when she was a girl, Mann trained as a classical singer, but self-doubt was her kryptonite.
“I won lots of awards in my youth for singing,” she said. “I wasn’t brave enough to pursue music as a career. I just didn’t think it would work out.”
The years passed. One kid turned to four. But the dream never faded.
“I honestly thought that once I had my children that the desire to pursue music would just kind of vanish, and it would be filled with children instead,” said Mann. “That didn’t happen.”
Spurred by a love of hip-hop, she wrote her own songs, tracked down a producer, and hired a wedding videographer to shoot and edit a couple of music videos.
“You can do a lot lyrically with a rap, because it’s really quick and you can squeeze a lot of information into one song,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun to mess with words that way.”
Doubt was her constant companion. She worried about not fitting the mold of what a “rapper” is supposed to look like. She worried about attempting to enter a business where many start their careers as teenagers. She worried about what other moms would think.
“Oh, I doubted myself big time,” she said. “I still doubt myself. Is anyone going to like this? I have no idea!”
Not all superheroes wear capes, but you won’t find many without a costume. On this particular night, Mann’s meeting two friends/backup dancers at a place called The Rise in Orem. They’ve got matching outfits, and Mann struggles to put on a blue wig, while checking her reflection in a nearby TV.
“As a mom, you don’t have a ton of time to deal with your hair and your makeup,” she said. “So a lot of the time when I perform, I just put a wig on.”
Tonight, she’s putting her skills to the test — Mann’s auditioning to be involved with a new recording label.
But the funny thing is, part of her has always wished she could forget about wanting to be here. Part of her wanted the dream to die.
“So I could just get on with my life and not think about this massive dream that I had, because it would be easier not to have the dream,” she said. “It’d be easier to just raise my family and focus on that. But it never did. I couldn’t ignore it anymore.”
Although some may initially think the opposite, Mann says chasing that dream has actually helped her be a better mother.
“Instead of daydreaming all day long of what I could be doing instead of changing diapers or mopping the floor, I’m actually doing it,” she said. “I’ve been able to compartmentalize my time with my kids and my time with music. Instead of splitting my mind between the two, I’m now pursuing both, and have been able to give more heart into both areas instead of being split all the time.”
Although doubt was certainly a huge hurdle for her to overcome, Mann says one of her biggest struggles was getting past her feelings of guilt.
“Some women have the dream of raising a family, and that’s fantastic,” she said. “But if you have a bit more than that, if it’s something else besides raising children, that’s okay too. You shouldn’t feel guilty about it, like I did — for years, you know? It’s okay to be interested in other things besides your family. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
As Mann prepares to step onto the stage for her audition, she says she’s largely gotten over the feelings of wondering what people will think of her pursuits — because if there’s one thing she’s learned, it’s the importance of making sure both superhero and secret identity can live together in harmony.
“Just follow your path,” she said. “Don’t be afraid of what you feel like you’re supposed to be doing with your life. Just do it. Even if it makes you feel uncomfortable, even if it make you feel like an outsider, or strange — that is your path, and everybody’s path is different.”
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