When LeAnne Musick was a teenager, she had big dreams to become a dancer. After being cut from the high school dance team, she turned defeat into motivation, a lesson she would need to cling to again later in life.
After working hard on her own, she returned to tryouts the following year ready to claim her spot. Not only did she make the squad, but she earned her way to dance team captain and all-star with the opportunity to travel to Europe her senior year. Although she could not afford the trip, just a decade later, she would get the opportunity to make other young dancers’ dreams come true.
It would take a while to travel the road from defeat to success, but Musick’s determination kept growing. Working as a server and waiting tables at her parent’s business, The Royce, Musick gained the ability to get to know people quickly by memorizing their orders. Coming from a hometown business that was open for fifty years taught Musick about the heart of the community, what regulars meant to an establishment and how to connect with people on a more personal basis.
“I had a great memory,” Musick said. “I would challenge another worker twenty dollars if I could remember their order for an entire table.”
When Musick became a single mom, she had new challenges to face. She worked at numerous restaurants, pinching pennies to provide for herself and her young daughter, Jada. At 24 years old, Musick describes herself as living off the government, watching DVDs with her daughter on repeat because they didn’t have cable TV and eating multiple meals of macaroni and cheese. During these years, she remembers making several tough choices.
“I had to choose between college and being a mother and I chose being a mother,” Musick said.
By this time she was working 60 to 70 hours a week, finding it difficult to keep up with the demands of work and single motherhood. After 12 years in the restaurant industry, she made the decision to leave her job, eager to pursue a new avenue of work. The next three days would be a pivotal time of reflection for Musick who remembers sitting very still on the couch next to her daughter as the dance-themed movie Honey played on repeat.
“I cried watching that movie,” Musick said. “I finally got enough courage to go to the Hines Center and inquire about starting my own dance class.”
After talking with Teresa Thomas about her dream to teach dance, Musick realized she needed much more than just an opportunity to teach. When asked if she had a business plan, Musick admitted that she didn’t even know what a business plan was. At that point, she decided to go to the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation (GOEDC) and come up with a five- and ten-year plan.
“I felt like I was working with a side of my brain that I was not accustomed to,” Musick said. “I started to dream a lot bigger at this point.”
For the plan to get off the ground, Musick knew she needed to start to look for a place to host these dance classes. Her advisors told her to speak to Terry Woodward, a local investor. With the downtown development just getting off the ground in Owensboro, this was the perfect time to pitch the idea to attract people to that area.
One day, while at GOEDC’s office, there was a big meeting about downtown and Musick heard that Woodward was there. Urged to go out there and speak with him, Musick would have a quick conversation that changed the course of her future. When he referred to Musick upon by asking if she was the dance lady, she knew that at least he knew of her and her vision to open a studio.
“He asked me if I was going to drop the “K” in my last name and after I responded, ‘No sir,’ he agreed to meet me in his office on Monday morning,” Musick said.
Her determination and confidence led to others believing in her. She was brought to the building at 411 East Second Street for a walkthrough. The property had just been gutted so it offered Musick the opportunity to start from scratch with a design vision.
“I knew it was it as soon as I walked in,” Musick said. “The rooms were huge. Upstairs was absolutely beautiful and it still looks the same.”
Musick first walked through the building in April of 2008 and, by August 2008, the doors to Musick Studios were opened to future dancers for the first time. Twelve years later, the studio continues to grow. A dream that began with 98 students has grown to nearly 500 during the biggest seasons. Several students, including her daughter Jada, have been with the studio since the very first season.
Since opening in 2008, Musick has experienced much success locally. In 2015, Musick Studios was named Greater Owensboro Small Business of the Year. Local businesses have also stepped up to partner with the studio, offering a few students who cannot afford dance training to receive scholarships each year. As for the young teenager who once didn’t make the team, she grew up to become the owner of a successful dance studio, and is grateful to her hometown for that success.
“I took every day as it was supposed to come,” Musick said. “I trusted the process.”