I was born in Festus, Missouri. There’s still no Rivierra there, by the way. I spent my early childhood just outside Hillsboro, Mo, on a 40 acre farm, in a settlement, called Mt Freedom. There weren’t many houses around then; just an old general store that I’d walk too through the backwoods and get candy, and pick up movie ads they’d leave for me on the back porch. My First day of school, my bus driver wouldn’t let me on the bus ‘til I sang for everyone. I started performing pretty early on. My Dad was a really good country singer. I believe he could’ve done something more with it, but he chose to stay home, raise me, and love mom instead. My life growing up was filled with family gatherings, George Jones Lp’s, bluegrass festivals, many friends and miles of travel. On a trip to Nashville, when I was just a boy I met Jimmy Martin, “The King of Bluegrass” on his birthday, at a club called Monroe Manor. He invited us to his home the next day, and from that moment, Jimmy and I were best of friends ‘til the day of his passing, due to cancer, in 2005. I traveled the road with Jimmy for many years, and during that time, met everyone from Tony Rice to Jerry Lee Lewis, and made many a colorful memory. Jimmy arranged for me to make my first record in 1985, for the Homestead label, and though recorded under some distress it helped create the opportunity for me to move to Nashville, soon there after. I moved to Nashville with my aunt, in a red, white, and blue van, with four bald tires. We had three flats on the way. It would only turn right, if you wanted to go left, you had to go in a circle, but we made it. I spent nearly twenty years in Nashville, performing and writing with the very legends; I grew up listening to, and many future legends, as we laid down our roots together, day by day, memory by memory. I remember, I was in my early twenties when Harlan Howard said to me, “Mel, you’re a good singer, and a pretty good songwriter, but you’re not great. But you get a divorce under your belt, piss away a couple fortunes and have to build them back, loose a whole lot of loved ones, and then, I believe you’re gonna be one of the best.” Well I don’t know about that, but I have had the time to do all of those things and then some, and one thing I know is there aren’t any easy roads in life, but I’ve been down enough of them to learn a thing or two.
• Performed In local talent shows and contests.
• Joined BMI at the age of 12.
• Performed with my own bluegrass, country, and rock bands through the remainder of my teenage years.
• Performed and traveled with the King of Bluegrass, Jimmy Martin, and former Foggy Mountain and Bluegrass Boys, Josh Graves, and Kenny Baker while still in school.
• Recorded my first album, Glimpse of Home, for Rutabaga Records in 1985
• Moved to Nashville, Fan Fair week of 1986, sang demos and performed in most all venues throughout the city and then eventually signed my first staff writing job with Reba McEntire at Starstruck Entertainment during their first year of operation.
• Went on to staff write for other publishing companies such as Warner Chapel, Peer/Talbot, and Randy Scruggs music.
• Had songs recorded during that time by Alan Jackson, Aaron Tippin, Don Williams, Claire Lynch, and a number of others.
• Married May 13, 1995
• Son, Emery Clayton Besher born April 7, 1996.
• Although slowing down some continued to write, perform, and produce music throughout marriage.
• January 1, 2002, Father dies, I divorced that same year.
• Started my own publishing company Mount Freedom Music Inc. in 2001.
• From 2002 til’ 2006, wrote, sang, fronted, and produced the bluegrass group Cedar Hill
• From 2006 to 2012, took somewhat of a hiatus from the music business to care for my Mother, my son, and our forty acre farm. During this time I did teach a music business and songwriting class at Jefferson College in Hillsboro, MO and continued to produce local talent, including the 2011 release of Adam Yount’s Butcher Songs, on my new record label Mount Freedom Records formed the same year.
• June 28 ,2012 my Mom died.
• To date, have completed and am currently promoting a brand new recording project with fourteen new songs that I personally feel best represent my music and art up to this point.
• Some of the people I have worked, written, or performed with through the years include:
Jerry Lee Lewis
Mark Alan Springer
New Grass Revival
The Del McCoury Band
Tommy Lee James
CMA Album of the Year: Who I Am – Alan Jackson (1994)
ACM Album of the Year: Who I Am – Alan Jackson (1994)
Grammy Nomination for Pee Wee and Fern from Claire Lynch’s Moonlighter LP (1995) for Bluegrass Song of the Year
SPGMA Contemporary Bluegrass Male Vocalist of the Year 2003 and 2005
SPGMA Bluegrass Album of the Year for Cedar Hill’s Journey of Faith (2003)
SPGMA Bluegrass Album of the Year for Cedar Hill’s Stories (2005)
Platinum Record – Alan Jackson’s Who I Am (1994)
Platinum Record – Alan Jackson’s High Mileage (1998)
Gold Record – Aaron Tippin’s What This Country Needs (1998)
Gold Record – Don William’s Flatlands (1996)
Gold Record – Keith Whitley: A Tribute Album (1994)