Sharing her talent

Mathis embraces vocal performances

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NEILLSVILLE, Wis. — Abigail Mathis has always had a love of music and singing. However, a year ago she would never have dreamed that she would be performing music in front of crowds.

Mathis works as the herdsperson on her family’s dairy farm near Neillsville alongside her family — parents, Sam and Stacey, brother, Gabe, and sisters, Alaina and Anita — where they milk 240 cows with four robotic milking units.

Performing in front of an audience is relatively new for Mathis, whose first on-stage appearance was just last summer when, at the urging of friends, she joined a band on stage at a rodeo in Amherst. She joined the band for a rendition of country artist Lainey Wilson’s song, “Watermelon Moonshine.”

“I got up the courage to go up there and sing with the band,” Mathis said. “I had never really sung in front of anyone before.”

Mathis said that night a seed was planted, and she believes she found her calling.

“I was in choir in high school and had one solo, but I was always super shy and never stepped out of my box,” Mathis said. “This experience was different. Singing with that band kind of kick-started everything.”

Perhaps by coincidence, her grandparents had given Mathis a guitar as a graduation gift earlier that summer. She took on the challenge of teaching herself to play the instrument.

“I just picked up the guitar and taught myself,” Mathis said. “I had piano lessons since I was in third grade, so I knew general music. I feel like the piano is the base instrument for everything.”

As Mathis began to undertake her musical journey in earnest, she went through a relationship breakup. Mathis chose to channel her feelings into the task of writing some original material while continuing to hone her new-found skills playing guitar.

With her confidence building, Mathis began sharing her music in the world of social media, posting videos featuring her talents on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok throughout the winter.

She said the response she received came as a surprise.

“I got a lot of feedback from people in my community and also from people outside the community, from family and friends,” Mathis said. “They all were so supportive and encouraging.”

As winter faded to spring, people began inquiring with Mathis about booking her for performances.

“The outreach from people asking me to sing at events has been amazing,” Mathis said. “I never really had to reach out to people to ask for the opportunity. It’s astonishing how many people have reached out to me.”

Mathis had her first solo public performance in April and has been performing regularly in the community since. She has performed at area bars, restaurants, parks, festivals and even a wedding. She has bookings coming up throughout the summer, with only a few open dates remaining.

“Recently I was in Eleva for their Broiler Festival, taking photos for a friend who is a photographer” Mathis said. “We were in the beer tent, taking photos and my friend mentioned that I sang, and these people started saying I should sing for them that night. I just happened to have all my stuff in my car, so really impromptu, I ended up performing that night.”

The repertoire of songs Mathis brings to her performance is varied.

“I lean heavily towards country, especially older country,” Mathis said. “But I really like classic rock, and I have picked up a knack for that. I really enjoy it. It is fun to sing.”

Despite the variety of genres, all the songs Mathis chooses to perform have something in common.

“A lot of the songs I sing hit my heartstrings,” Mathis said. “Many of them are songs I’ve been singing since I was a little kid. I have always loved music. It is crazy to see how other people relate to the same songs that I relate to.”

Many of the songs Mathis sings are familiar to music lovers, but she gives each one a unique spin, creating her own arrangements to suit her voice and style, manipulating the song to complement the acoustic guitar she plays.

“I like making the songs my own thing,” Mathis said. “I can sing the same song at different events, and it can sound a little different. I just do what feels right in the moment.”

Mathis said she draws her inspiration from many artists she admires.

“Two that stick out in my mind are Reba McEntire and Cody Johnson,” said Mathis. “I love not just their style, but I appreciate their morals and values a lot.”

For the time being, Mathis said she is happy to continue to share her talents with the people in her audience. She is working to create the opportunity to record with a band — particularly her original material. As far as the future, Mathis said she is willing to let God take the reins.

“If God allows, I would 100% love to make a career out of this,” Mathis said. “But I’m not going to rush anything, because I know God has a plan for me, and I’m willing to stick faithfully to that. I would sing for myself regardless, just because I love it.”

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