Fishman Artist // Pete MrozWith two acclaimed albums under his belt, a dedicated investor in his pocket and a proven hit producer on his team, Pete Mroz had everything in place as he prepped his best-ever bunch of songs for album number three. Then, at the 25th hour, reality stepped in and everything abruptly changed. Walloped by the plummeting economy, his investor bailed out, leaving the Nashville-based singer/songwriter financially marooned on the verge of his lifetime dream. Down but not out, the energetic, effervescent artist got up, dusted himself off and hit the ground running, calling on fans, friends, future fans, former friends and far flung family members – anyone and everyone that could possibly help – to launch an all-out fundraising assault via the website Kickstarter.
With a lofty goal of raising $20,000 to finance the recording, Mroz went into high gear, promoting his project with evangelistic fervor online, face-to-face and across multiple social networking platforms. The next few months would find him crisscrossing the country, playing showcase gigs, networking at regional music conferences and producing hastily assembled, humor-and-song-fueled, on-the-road promotional films that chronicled his progress. As he reached for that elusive financial goal, Mroz learned a whole lot, about friends, about family and mostly about himself, finding positive proof along the way that the means to an end can be as meaningful and fulfilling as the end itself.
"When I started this effort, I met with some PR folks and their unanimous response was, 'Pete, you don't have the fan base numbers to ask for $20 thousand on Kickstarter,'" Mroz recalls. "I left those meetings thinking, 'I will not let this discourage me; this must happen!'"
What those skeptical publicists neglected to factor in was the unshakable tenacity and self-reliance ingrained in this particular singer/songwriter, the result of a sometimes tumultuous, frequently rootless childhood. His parents divorced when he was 9 years old, and Mroz, who stayed with his dad, soon found himself living in a distinctly uncomfortable situation when his father remarried.
"My dad's name was Lucky and he was my very best friend," Mroz says. "We shared an internal bond that was beyond father and son. He was a lone wolf and he was always pushing the limits. He didn't always make the best decisions, but who does?"
After "three years of trying," the youngster was sent off to live fulltime at a "boy's ranch." While most would see that as a stumbling block, Mroz, who inherited his dad's gift for bottomless optimism, refers to the experience as "the best thing that ever happened to me."
He might have something there. How else do you explain the artist jumping headlong into his uphill, against-all-odds fundraising effort? While the donations initially came at a fairly steady pace, with 120 backers and four days remaining, Mroz was still $8 thousand dollars away from his goal. And the way Kickstarter works, if you don't raise all the money you projected in the time allotted, you lose it all. Desperate, the singer turned to his music industry contacts, who suggested he shoot out a press release on his Kickstarter project. And that's when things got interesting. That not-so-evil stepmother who caused Mroz to leave home all those years ago, had long since divorced Lucky and remarried. When her "new" husband stumbled upon a news clipping generated by Mroz' last-resort press release and recognized his name, the couple came forward with a $5 thousand contribution.
"They came in at the last minute with that donation," says a still-amazed Mroz. "That caused a chain reaction, with other people doubling their pledge and my goal was reached."
Pete just finished up in the studio with producer Warren Huart (The Fray, Howie Day, Jay Clifford, Augustana) recording his latest album "We'll Rise Above". He's currently on the road for a promotional tour of the northeast in preparation for the album's August release. Needless to say, the road from conception to recording studio has been full of unexpected twists and turns. True to form, Pete Mroz wouldn't have it any other way.
"This whole ride has been completely amazing," he says. "Current relationships and some from deep in my past came to life in ways I never imagined. God works in beautiful and wondrous ways, and in this case a negative was absolutely transformed into a positive. Let the fun begin!" - Peter Cronin