MUSCATINE, Iowa—Growing up, Monica Austin idolized country singer Wynonna Judd. She listened to her music on the radio and watched every awards show Judd performed at. Austin fantasized about one day becoming a performer and opening for Judd. Now, a successful musician herself, Austin has a once in a lifetime opportunity to open for Judd at the Rust Belt in East Moline, Illinois, on Feb. 21.
Always a musician, Austin played in many bands over the years before forming one seven years ago. “I just decided that I wanted to focus on the songs I liked and my original music, so I decided to start my own band,” explained Austin.
Originally called Fickle Filly and the Haymakers, Austin eventually changed the band’s name to Monica Austin to reflect her focus on writing and performing her own songs. Austin writes country music and uses each song to share a little bit of her own background. “My songs are written in a storytelling style, so they’re all autobiographical,” she emphasized.
Over the years, Austin performed at many venues around the Quad Cities, and each time an owner or manager asked her who she most wanted to open for, she always said Judd. Last fall, Austin got the opportunity to apply to open for her. Austin felt thrilled, but also found the experience surreal. “Somewhere, someone remembered I said that,” she said.
Since receiving the opportunity to open for Judd, Austin has worked hard to produce an album featuring several new songs, create exclusive merchandise, and to publicize the show. “Getting the word out is the most important part,” she stressed. Austin added she hopes to fill all 1,000 of the Rust Belt’s seats to honor Judd. So far, Austin’s friends and family in Muscatine alone (she moved to Muscatine six years ago for a job and stayed after meeting her husband and deciding to live close to his family) have purchased 300 tickets and sales continue to climb.
As a child, Austin lived for a time in a trailer park near the factory in East Moline that later became the Rust Belt. As she watched Judd on TV, she never knew that years later, she would get to perform with her only a few miles away. “It’s kind of an if you build it, they will come moment for me,” shared Austin. Now, as the night of the concert approaches, she looks forward to finally getting to meet the woman who inspired her music career. “I’m most excited to get to see Wynonna because I’m such a big fan,” she enthused.
Fans of Austin and Judd still have plenty of time to purchase tickets at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wynonna-judd-the-big-noise-tickets-76938399825. Austin also encourages you to visit her website https://monicaaustinmusic.com/ to learn more about her music and other events she will play at.