NASHVILLE, TN--Mike Lewis was telegenic, articulate and street smart. He made a name for himself as a news anchor and reporter in the Hampton Roads television market from 1985 to 1999.
Mike's poise on the set was eclipsed only by his skills as a street reporter. From Hampton Roads to the streets of Los Angeles, he delivered stories on how the drug culture of the 1990's destroyed lives, families and entire communities.
Mike left 13News Now in 1999 and became an anchor at WNEP in central Pennsylvania. But nine years later, the station was sold, and the new owners did not renew Mike's contract. The second-generation journalist was unemployed.
Mike could have landed another gig as a television anchor, but instead he decided to leave television to chase his dream as a country music singer and song-writer.
Wearing a crisp white shirt, blue blazer, fashionably worn jeans and cowboy boots, Mike sat down for an interview while musicians were setting up for a demo session in the famed OmniSound Studios on Division Street in Nashville.
Like any new artist, Mike says he had to learn that when in Nashville, you have to make music the Nashville way.
The Nashville numbers system is a shortcut way of documenting music.
''There are no notes in the studio, it's all by number system. We will chart the song, we'll hand out the charts, they will listen to me, I'll play the song for them and they will record it. That's the way its done here in Nashville," Mike explained.
Mike's skills as a newsman are now being applied to country music. He is still working to learn the number system, but his lyrics jump from the page.
Mike says country music is all about telling a story. "Story telling, you know, it has to have a pay off. You have to be concise, you have to be thoughtful about it, and really come with a different perspective than most folks," Mike said.
When asked whether he misses the news business, Mike did not hesitate in saying, "No."
"The only thing that I know, it was something that has run deep in me for a long time, songwriting has been a passion and I just figure the timing was right," said Mike.
When asked if he is a starving artist, Mike did not hesitate in saying, "Yes."
Over the past five years, Mike has released 3 CD's, which he often sells after charity and church-related concerts. He lives in a motel and rarely gets a home-cooked meal. But, Mike has a laser focus on his dream to thrive in show business.
Mike brought meaningful stories to the newscast and today he delivers meaningful stories in song.
"Everybody comes to a show with a story of their own. The key is to try to reach people where they are and not have them come to where you are," said Mike.
Mike's yet-to-be-titled fourth CD will be released this fall. Mike says she would love to return to Hampton Roads for a live concert.