by J.O. Parker
Etan Moses, a Nashville singer and songwriter with family ties to the Lynnville area, is making her way in the world of country music.
Her first single, “Country Mile Love,” a song about the feeling of love being a ride, was released on Aug. 28 and is receiving airplay on radio across a five-state region. It is available on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon music and all major streaming platforms.
The song, Etan said, is about taking a slow, Sunday drive down an Iowa gravel road, like a farmer might do while checking his fields or cattle.
“The things to be seen bring delight even if they seem mundane to others,” said Etan of her song. “It’s the ‘I’m not in a hurry to get anywhere’ love where you soak everything in with a good song in the background, your favorite drink in your cupholder and your favorite person by your side.”
Etan’s second song, “Thankful,” which was released on Jan. 8, is a love song about the ups and downs of any relationship, but in a healthy way.
“One where you are growing and living life with each other in mind, it’s worth being thankful for,” said Etan. “No matter what we lose, there is so much to be gained when both people are willing to love and respect each other through the storms of life.”
As with her first song, “Thankful,” is available on all major streaming platforms.
Etan, who most know as Ciara (Doll) McDonald, is the second of four children of Mark and Melissa Doll of Lynnville and a 2005 graduate of Lynnville-Sully.
She was raised in a family of singers who spread the message of God’s love and family at churches, county fairs and community events and through Honeybee Ministries, a community faith-based outreach of music and word.
With music being a part of her life from an early age, Etan said there never was an official start to writing and singing music. She was always putting words and melodies to everything she did from daily tasks to memorizing things and singing her feelings. That led to her writing her first song when she was nine-years-old.
“I guess you would say I co-wrote it with my younger friend from church,” she said. “That’s hysterical thinking about it. We wrote it and taught my sisters and our church friends. We sang it on KCWN in Pella.”
Being involved in church as a family, Etan said there was always a holiday musical that needed singers young and old.
“My parents also got invited to sing at places, and they would take us (children) along,” she said. “We were probably the cutest part of the show for them. My parents have always been encouragers of participation, up lifters of people and their gifts and talents being used no matter their age or the size of venue.”
Her family, she said, believed in growing where you are planted.
Etan’s big break in the world of music didn’t come until last year following, of all things, a COVID quarantine.
She and her husband, Ryan, who she met in 2008 while attending Lee University, and the couple’s two daughters, Salem and Mayer, moved to Nashville in July 2019 to volunteer with non-profits for a few months.
“We assumed we would serve for two months and move back to Iowa,” said Etan. “We ended up staying around the area until December 2019.”
After returning to Iowa for Christmas and staying for a few weeks, Etan, who was pregnant with the couple’s third child, said she and Ryan decided to return to Nashville and continue their work there.
Right after their son, Armon, was born at the end of February 2020, Nashville and the State of Tennessee went into lockdown due to COVID.
“We also had two tornados a week after my son's birth and then a few weeks after the first,” recalled Etan. “For a while, all bars and restaurants were shut down for dining. Shopping was limited and only grocery stores were allowed to be open. It was a very different place down there then when I came up here even in May, several months after the beginning of restrictions.”
Etan said it wasn’t until quarantine when she pursued a specific call to learn how to write music with others, and soon endless doors started opening.
While taking part in a family connect group in the fall of 2019 with friends, Wes and Callie Strunk, who she and Ryan met in Nashville, Etan was introduced to Nate Johnson, a Nashville musician and writer. He and Wes are musicians and writers and they spoke at the event about helping inspiring musicians get their careers off the ground.
“In that moment, I was not pursuing music, so I admit, I listened to them speak, but I did not know I would ever be part of those conversations they were having regarding music, let alone be part of making music with them,” recalled Etan.
In March, Etan said the Holy Spirit reminded her of that chance meeting with Nate and Wes and that led her to reaching out to the men. The two men have since formed a friendship and partnership and helped Etan write ‘Country Mile Love,’ and also, ‘Thankful.’
“They have helped me immensely,” said Etan. “They not only excel at writing, being artists and musicians in their own right and the production side, but they also have expertise in launching artists, artist planning and marketing. It’s just incredible how they were made to do what they do (all with great attitudes and making you feel like a partner).”
Beside working with Wes and Nate, Etan is also writing and singing in Silo in Franklin, Tenn., a suburb of Nashville.
“It’s such an amazing venue and my favorite place to sing and write,” she said. “The acoustics are crazy. It’s owned by a dear friend of my mine, Lisa.”
She has also become involved with Patreon, an fundraising arm that works to connect independent musicians who do not depend on a record label, with funding sources.
“Patreon helps me fund things I need, keeps me making music and brings me closer to people who want to support what I do,” said Etan. “Think about it as giving money to someone you believe in to make you something directly rather than paying a chain store. It’s small business in the creative space. I can’t wait to dive more into Patreon soon. Revamping and sharing more is something I aim to do in the next year to give my patrons more value.”
In late November, Etan put her signing talents on the line in the Steve Shettler KBOE country music competition, Battle for Iowa III. Sixteen of the Iowa’s best musicians battled it out during the single elimination tournament. Etan won it and was presented a trophy by Shettler, county DJ at the Oskaloosa station, earlier this month.
“He’s so fun, and I attribute his support to a lot of the reason people have found “Country Mile Love,” Etan said. “Doris Day, a DJ at KIX 101.1, has also been a sweet, smart and truthful ally to many of us. I can’t wait to meet more Iowa radio people. It seems like such a family here in Iowa."
And speaking of family, Etan said none of this would be possible had it not been for her parents instilling God’s love and teaching her to grow where she is planted, that has made this all possible.
She also credited Ryan, who is helping raise the couple’s three children while they figure out how to follow their dreams.
“My husband is working on his new company, and I’m doing music,” said Etan. “It’s tough some days, but we’re working on helping the other fulfill what God has asked of each of us. It sometimes just takes reminding each other what God has said or even what He hasn’t and trying to align our desires and support. I do a lot of praying and reading the Word to make sure I’m focused on the right priorities. It’s work to do “all the things,” but it’s also so gratifying when something succeeds and you know it had to be by the grace of God it was successful. You just work hard and surrender.”
To learn more about Etan or to find out what it next, visit the Etan Moses Music Facebook group, etanmoses.com website or Instagram @EtanMosesMusic.