From writing to recording to performing, Dakota's music is his life's mission. In Dakota's eyes, his music is more than lyrics and melodies; it is emotion. For Dakota, "music is everything." Before he discovered music, Dakota's first love was sports. He grew up in St. Louis playing basketball, soccer, hockey, and junior football. He still jumps into a pickup game of basketball every chance he gets. At the age of twelve, Dakota discovered his love of music when he found an old guitar hidden away in the family basement; after spending an entire day plucking away, he never put it back down. He began learning songs from rock bands like Guns N' Roses, Aerosmith, and Motley Crue.. Discovering the heart-tugging lyrics of country music a few years later, he knew he had found a musical home.. By the eighth grade, Dakota had already formed a band with some friends and, despite their youth, they soon were picking up gigs at local clubs around town. They played only a few shows, quickly garnered a following, and managed to win a local "Battle of the Bands" competition against more established musicians. Dakota and his family made the move to Nashville from St. Louis while he was still an early teen. A devastating house fire prompted the move; their home was destroyed. The tragic experience motivated the young musician, fueling his dreams of a bigger and better life.. Things quickly turned around for Dakota. He found new encouragement among the other musicians in town, and he found a manager eager to represent him. He also made friends with others his age, sharing his dreams, and even started making music with them. On a chance occasion, Dakota and a friend made a video of a performance of Michael jackson's "The Girl Is Mine," which became an Internet hit on YouTube. The video of their duet made its way to the producer of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and Dakota soon received an email inviting the two boys to be on the show. Within only a few weeks, there they were, performing that same song for Ellen herself and an audience of television viewers tuning in from around the country. Thrilled with the opportunity to perform, Dakota still maintained his focus on developing as a writer. He began writing songs with some of Nashville's best producers and writers including hit songwriters Brett and Brad Warren ("Highway Don't Care," "Feel That Fire,") and Taylor Swift producer, Nathan Chapman. Then came the call from Grammy-winning producer Byron Gallimore. Gallimore has produced records with some of Nashville's biggest hitmakers - (Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Sugarland) - and was so impressed with Dakota that he signed him to his own label, Streamsound Records. Gallimore also was quick to introduce Dakota to McGraw himself .•• and Dakota made quite an impression. During his initial audition for McGraw, Dakota cut his finger wide open on a guitar string; never missing a beat, he continued to play and sing, blood running down the front of his guitar and onto the floor. His enthusiasm so impressed McGraw that the superstar called in his own band to record with the young talent. If Dakota had to describe where he is in his life now in one word, it would be fearless. "I've been through some tough things early on in my life," he says, "and that's the reason I'm fearless .. .' cause I've lived through those kinds of things. So, for me, being in front of people singing is no big deal compared to what I grew up dealing with. That's the reason I'm so positive, because I don't ever want my life to look like that again!" He continues, "I'm gonna make my life happy, and I believe what you put into something is what you get out. Life is what you make it, and I'm very excited about my future in music and what it can be!"