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Singer mixes music, life experiences

By Alex Byrd abyrd@news-journal.com
June 25, 2014 at 10 p.m.

There are many facets to the lead singer of Rugged Heart, but the name of her five-piece band pretty much sums her up.

Amanda Goodman-Pruitt, 31, has lived most of her life as a nomad, but now calls Emory home with her husband, Ken Pruitt, and three children, Kaylee, 6, Eugene, 9, and Taylor, 15.

Just three months following the death of her stepson, Wesley, 13, in March, the wife, mother and singer/songwriter is moving forward with her career and outlook on life.

"I know that my testimony will touch someone one day," Goodman-Pruitt said. "I've been through so much, and it's great not to sneak around to sing anymore."

Although she first took the stage dressed in a white fringe shirt, a bluejean skirt and bandana at the age of 4 in a Bossier City, Louisiana, bingo hall, her father was not a fan of her singing.

Her song of choice was "Have Mercy" by The Judds.

"My parents divorced when I was 5 years old, and I was never able to really be a child," she said. "Especially since I lived with my dad and he worked 80 to 90 percent of the time."

Now, the rising star tours with her Rugged Heart band and writes songs with country music legend Tony Stampley of Nashville.

"I've been determined since the first day I began singing," Goodman-Pruitt said. "My dad wasn't supportive and wanted me to get a degree other than in music."

Goodman-Pruitt was born in Natchez, Mississippi, moved to Bossier City at 2 years old and was "shipped" by her father and stepmother to Wentworth Military Academy & College in Lexington, Missouri, at 17.

"It was a blessing in disguise to move there on my own," Goodman-Pruitt said of military school.

Goodman-Pruitt graduated in 2010 with a bachelor's degree in journalism from Texas A&M University-Commerce and a minor in theater arts.

"She had more discipline than most of the students in the journalism program," Texas A&M Commerce journalism instructor Fred Stewart said. "Even back then, she was very excited about her music and had big dreams and high hopes for it."

Her music entwines blues, jazz and country, layered with raspy vocals.

Her next performance is scheduled July 19 in Sulphur Springs.

This past week, she played at the Texas Country Music Hall Fame in Carthage.

She's also working on an album to be released January.

Her "frans" - her slang for "fans and friends" - can expect an album exploring her feelings about her son's death.



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