Clinton Magazine Spring 2022 | Page 12

Performers are lining up to take the stage at The V ’ ue .

Enjoying ‘ The V ’ ue ’

Professional musician Brooke Byam leaves big city to return to small-town roots

by jenna blount

Fifth Avenue South in Clinton is always exceptionally dark at night .

Mostly .
In stark contrast to its surroundings , “ The V ’ ue ” is framed by lights bright enough that they maybe even exaggerate how dark the rest of the street is .
Inside is Brooke Byam , a woman whose vibrant red hair gives her away . Her story began in Clinton County , took her to Nashville and musical success , then brought her back home again to Clinton , Iowa .
Byam loved growing up along the Mississippi River , but she grew up there in a slightly unusual setting . The knowledge that her mother had gained from working at a veterinarian ’ s office for 26 years made the Byams ’ farm the place to go for anyone who sought help for their animals in need of rehabilitation .
Byam refers to it as having been a sort of “ hobby exotic animal farm .” When Byam started going to school then , she wasn ’ t used to being around other kids instead of animals . Once she adjusted , however , she adored it and became involved in choir , musical theater , and drama classes .
Byam graduated with Clinton High School ’ s class of 2000 . That same year , she won the title of Miss Clinton County , and the next year was a semi-finalist in the Miss Iowa pageant .
Those competitions put her on stage , but what she ’ d really been dreaming about was Nashville . The idea intimidated and scared her , but a couple trips there with her parents , proved it wasn ’ t so different from home and wasn ’ t anything to be afraid of after all . Byam fell in love with it . In 2005 , at 23 years old , she decided to go for it and moved to Nashville , where she ’ d spend the next decade of her life .
Immediately , Byam drew attention .
“ They love Midwesterners ,” she says . “ Our work ethic is so strong that we stick out like a sore thumb . They can spot a Midwesterner a mile away .”
12 Clinton Magazine Spring 2022