Murray State musician releases debut album

By Da’Sha Tuck, Staff writer 

Focused on her faith and family, Arista Manning, senior from Kirksey, Kentucky, took her first bold steps into the music industry with the release of her debut album, “Ride This Night.”

The album was set to release Sept. 2, but because of technical issues, it was officially released on Sept. 7. It is now available on all media outlets including Spotify, iTunes, Apple Play and more.

“It’s all out there now,” Manning said. “Sometimes we just have speed bumps like that when working with bigger companies.”

The album has five songs: “Ride This Night,” “Amen to That,” “Lucky Enough,” “Wrapped up in Me” and “Southern Drawl.”

“I searched for months in order to personalize the album and find material that best fits my style,” Manning said. “I selected various pieces from different writers in the Nashville area.”

Shane Barrett Music pitched the majority of the songs on her album, she said. Manning described her musical style as a mix of country and bluegrass with a flare of pop.

Growing Up

Manning grew up a farmer’s daughter, watching her father work extremely hard to provide for his family and allow his daughters to reach for their dreams, she said.

“I grew up on a farm following a tobacco setter,” Manning said. “Just me and my dog.”

She said she was raised to hold family close and to always be family-oriented. Manning first began singing in her church, singing in front of an audience for the first time when she was only eight years old.

“My parents were my praise team leaders at my church,” Manning said. “They got me heavily involved in music.”

Throughout high school, Manning said she gained confidence in her voice through performing. Growing up in a rural setting, Manning said the thought of living in a big city like Nashville is a little intimidating, but she envisions herself there one day.

Manning Productions

Support has flooded Manning ever since she was a little girl, with a lot of it coming from her family. She said her parents have been a huge influence for her music career. Manning’s father, Anthony, even founded a music production company solely for her.

“Technically, I’m with an independent label,” Manning said. “My dad, he created a company for me called Manning Productions. So this is my label as of now until I get signed with a major label.”

Manning said her dad is always right by her side.

“Music is a business,” Anthony said. “Our daughter wants to make a career out of it and every business has to have an origin. We take Arista’s passion for music very seriously and we are going to see this through.”

Her original producer, Mike Jones of Murray, also helped Manning excel in her career. Jones died a little more than a year ago but Manning said he is still present in “Ride This Night.”

Jones helped produce two of the five songs on the album. He also put Manning in contact with her current producer, Steve Pope of TuneShop Productions, before he died. Jones and Pope were colleagues and Manning said Pope made a promise to Jones that is driving her career today.

“Steve actually made a promise to Mike to watch out for me, to take care of me and to push me as far as he could,” Manning said. “That is just really special to me that Mike was tied into this whole project.”

Looking Forward

Since the album release, and even before, Manning said the support from the Murray State community has been amazing.

“I could not be more proud of Arista,” said Mary Hundley, senior from Madisonville, Kentucky, and Manning’s sister in Alpha Omicron Pi. “Seeing the way she juggles classes, working, sorority activities and her music career is astonishing. I don’t know how she does it.”

Manning said her strong faith in the Lord is what keeps her going. The feedback from the album, she said, has been great so far. In the future, Manning Productions is planning a radio tour. This will be broadcasted on stations in the Nashville area as well as locally. Manning said local performances are in the works as well. She hopes to have benefit concerts later down the road.

“I just want to be passionate about whatever it is I’m doing for the rest of my life,” Manning said. “I don’t want to settle for a nine to five job like everyone else if I don’t have to. I want to shoot for the stars and chase my dreams. We only get one chance in this life and I’m going to give it all I have.”