Ciara (Doll) McDonald, formerly of the Lynnville-Sully area, is now recognized by her singer-songwriter name of Etan Moses as she embarks on a career in the mainstream music industry in Nashville, Tennessee.
From her hometown country roots to the country music capital of the world, Ciara (Doll) McDonald is finding success in a God-driven journey that has led her to stretch her vocal and creative strength as a singer-songwriter in Nashville, TN.
McDonald is the second of four children of Mark and Melissa Doll of Lynnville, and she graduated from Lynnville-Sully with the Class of 2005. Growing up in a family of talented musicians means singing and performing on stage has come second nature to McDonald since she was a young child. “We sang at our church, school, and anywhere we were welcomed,” said McDonald in reference to her family, which in addition to her parents includes sisters Clarissa and Cyvannah and brother Caden. McDonald recalls receiving a stereo for her birthday one year, which brought even more inspirational music into her life and allowed her to gain an appreciation for a variety of genres. Hours and hours were spent listening to tunes on the radio and from popular cassette tapes in the 1990s.
Music spoke to McDonald’s soul as a child, as it continues to do and inspire her today. Given her love of melody and the way lyrics spoke to her soul, McDonald also developed a passion for songwriting as a young girl. Often her real-life experiences and feelings would inspire the lyrics which she would set to melody.
“I loved recording them and listening to them over and over and feeling the feelings that went with each song. A good song I would write would evoke a feeling in me every time I listened to it, even years later,” said McDonald.
From the outside looking in, McDonald’s childhood seemed charmed, and she will always be the first to show appreciation for her blessed upbringing surrounded by a supportive community, friends, and family. However, there was always part of her young girl’s heart that didn’t feel like she quite fit in – a difficult concept to grasp in those formative years.
“I was in almost every club, sport, and activity you could be in...that still didn’t make me popular, cool, or fit in,” said McDonald. “I was quirky, and that’s fun and exciting when you’re older, but it wasn’t an easy road when I was living in it. I was growing up, figuring out who I was, and full of energy.”
But living through it she did thanks to family support including praying parents who allowed her to express her feelings, as well as introspective soul searching, maturity, and acceptance that comes with age. McDonald realizes what she once identified as “quirks” are now strengths helping her career flourish. The lonely, outsider feelings she felt as a young girl have made her a more compassionate person today, and her song lyrics reflect all of the learning and resiliency earned. Her message to anyone feeling like the same she once did: Live the life you were created for.
“To someone in our hometown feeling like your strengths are different from the herd, just be you. I know it seems hard to not be invited, to miss opportunities – but if you handle it and process through it and live the life you were created to live, you won’t regret it later. You are valuable. Only you can fill the position God created you to, and He needs different colors, shapes, sizes, and personalities to fulfill His plans,” said McDonald.
McDonald’s journey of self-acceptance and desire to tap into her musical roots has taken her hundreds of miles from her hometown. Today, she lives in Nashville, TN, with her husband, Ryan, and three children, Salem (age 4.5), Mayer (age 3), and Armon (six months). She and Ryan moved south in July 2019 to follow the call God led them to. “One of the things God told us was that I would receive training in the area of songwriting,” said McDonald.
While living in Iowa, McDonald juggled part-time work with full-time, stay-at-home mom duties, all while singing every chance she was given. Since moving to Tennessee, she and her family have been volunteering at various nonprofits in Nashville and their church, The Belonging Co. She’s done this all while learning about the music industry and process at an expedited pace. Brave Worship events, a women’s songwriting collective established by a Christian writer, initially captured her attention and time. She then connected with a friend from church who is also an artist, writer, and producer. McDonald exposed her heart and soul with the experienced musician and with the help of his business partner, her musical wheels were set in motion. McDonald spent extensive time co-writing and working with Wes Strunk and Nate Johnson of O.A.K. of Franklin, TN. “They’re amazing and extremely helpful with helping me get started,” said McDonald.
All of the work and collaboration with professionals has led to the creation of two new songs. Her first studio single, “Country Mile Love,” is set to release on Aug. 28 through Apple Music, Spotify, and all major streaming platforms. Her second single will release in fall 2020, and the third song is scheduled to be co-written and released in early 2021. Of her new songs, McDonald said, “Much like me, we’re starting off fun, and then we’ll go a little deeper.”
McDonald’s songs are not the only life changes taking place right now. She’s also embracing a new name for the music industry, Etan Moses. McDonald explains that Etan means steadfast and Moses was a delivered whose name meant “drawn from the water.”
“It felt odd at first to embrace a new name, as people in our hometown don’t often do that,” explained McDonald. “Per usual, I prayed a lot about the situation, and it was clear that God had plans for this name. In my faith, there are many instances where names are changed, and I am excited and honored to carry a new name.”
Moving forward, McDonald will go by the name Etan Moses for her music. It is the name and brand on her new releases, website, and social media pages. To follow her journey in the mainstream music industry, visit www.etanmoses.com, follow her on Instagram – EtanMosesMusic, or check out the Etan Moses Facebook page.
McDonald, aka Etan Moses, is offering the general public the ability to hear early releases as well as enjoy many more benefits and perks through her Patreon page, https://www.patreon.com/etanmoses. There, interested fans can sign up for one of five membership levels, which will help support the musical vehicle driving her dreams ahead. Monthly membership payments give fans access to Patreon-only posts, songs, and livestreams, access to merchandise, personalized notes, messages, and phone calls, meet-and-greets, and so much more.
While it may seem McDonald has climbed the ladder into the mainstream music industry rapidly since their initial move to Nashville in July 2019, it’s actually been a journey that has been years in the making. McDonald credits her hometown roots and all the support and love she’s been given from family, friends, and even strangers for helping her grow as daughter of the King, wife, mother, friend, and singer-songwriter. She has a deep connection with the Lynnville-Sully community, and it’s something she thanks God for every day. “If you’ve lived there, you know how amazing people are,” she said of her hometown. “When my mom had her brain tumor, my sister a car accident, and various other successes and hardships, the people in our small towns have shown up. They’re amazing. I have so many heart connections and conversations with people now. I still pray for and with many people. I genuinely want to connect with those I know, even if we’ve briefly met or it was a long time ago, I am the kind of person who prays when God brings them to my heart.”
Although hundreds of miles now separate McDonald from her roots, she said, “I feel like I’ve never left in my heart.” Her work and home are now in Nashville, but parts of her heart still reside in the Midwest. McDonald weaves those heartfelt, nostalgic feelings and deep connections with the lyrics she writes and sings today. Nearly once a month, McDonald comes back to Iowa to sing with Honeybee Ministries, a Christian ministry and outreach developed by her mother. “It’s been a blast because it feels so different than Nashville. You see people show up because they love you, not because they want anything from you,” said McDonald of the local experiences.
Her name may be different and her stage larger than it was in the past, but her heart and faith are firmly rooted. The gratitude she feels for those supporting her in this journey is plentiful. “I just want to reiterate how grateful I am for all the support from my family, friends, and even those who barely know me. It means a lot, and I know we will accomplish so much together,” said McDonald. “When I say it’s for all of us, I mean that. I want to see success come for our towns, our youth, our families, and I want to see a ripple effect of God’s goodness and mercy from the Heartland. It may start with a song, but it should end with hearts and lives changed. That is the ultimate.”