Not too long after I started talking, I started singing, or at least that’s what my parents tell me. I knew most of the songs on country radio back then. I remember my favorite song was "Elvira" by The Oak Ridge Boys. I was making up my own songs at that age too…not that I remember any of them!
Growing up in Heiberger, a small community about 15 miles north of Marion, Alabama, was sometimes a little boring. When I wasn’t in school, my days were usually spent at my grandparents’ house. My grandfather had a guitar and a harmonica, and I remember him playing both of them a lot. I loved to listen to him play. He played bluegrass and listened to “old” country, like Hank Williams and Patsy Cline, though his favorite was always Dolly Parton. I guess that’s where my love of country music began.
My parents always encouraged me to explore my love of music. In elementary school, I took piano lessons. I could play pretty well, but piano just wasn’t for me. My mom and grandmother weren’t very happy with me when I quit!
In junior high, I began playing the clarinet. My interest in playing it came from my mom, who played both the clarinet and the saxophone in her high school band. I was in the band at Bibb County High School in Centreville, Alabama throughout junior high and high school. I loved being able to play and actually feel the music. I didn’t play it after I graduated though.
After high school, I still sang whenever and wherever I could. I went to various auditions in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee, such as American Idol and Nashville Star, where my mom heard me sing for the first time since I was little. I didn’t make it past the first round of any of them, but they were all great experiences and a lot of fun.
In January of 2006, I decided it was time for me to go to college. I enrolled in Judson College in Marion to get my degree in Criminal Justice. I loved going to college and took voice classes there under Dr. Betty Campbell. That still wasn’t enough. All I wanted to do was sing. I decided to get a lot more serious about it and left college in May of 2008.
After college, I recorded my first CD. It was full of cover songs, but it was great for my first time.
The next couple of years were packed with more singing, more auditions, and more competitions. I auditioned for The Voice and sang at a local competition at the Central Alabama Fair in Selma, where I made it to the Top 10. I knew my vocal abilities and range were getting better because that was farther than I’d ever gotten in any singing competition.
After that, I recorded another CD, also full of cover songs. I started thinking I really wanted to start writing and singing my own songs, but I'd never tried that before.
I started learning to play the guitar, hoping that would help me write. My grandfather gave me his guitar and I was actually learning a lot. It was going pretty well until he passed away. After that, I didn't play very much for a while.
I auditioned for The Voice two more times, still not making it past the first round. Then, I heard about a local competition called The Alabama Voice. It was in Montgomery. I thought I’d try it. All they could do was say “no”. But they didn’t! They said yes and that started a long four months of voice lessons, rehearsals, and competition.
My voice coach from the competition was awesome. I would have never gotten as far as I did without all of her help. There’s a huge difference in my voice from before the competition and now. She also helped bring me out of my shell so I could get on stage and perform! Before the competition, I had major stage fright! The more I worked on it and the longer I stayed in the competition, the more comfortable I was with performing in front of crowds. I absolutely love it now! I made it to the semi-finals of the competition, which was the Top 6.
After that, I got a call from a talent scout who works with a few labels in Nashville. I recorded a demo for him, and he sent it to them. He finally called me and said he had good news and bad news. The good news was that they loved my voice, but the bad news was that I sounded way too much like Carrie Underwood. I don’t see how any of that is bad news since she is one of my “idols”!
Finally, I decided it was time to start writing my own songs. I sat down and wrote three the first night! I’ve written seven so far, and I’m working on five more. My writing actually caught the attention of a publishing company in Nashville, and I now have a songwriting contract with them. The next time I record a demo, I’ll be singing my songs instead of just covers.
I also sang the National Anthem at the Marion Rodeo this summer. It was an awesome experience for me because it was the first time I'd sung in my home town since college!