OFFSTAGE: Jana Kramer on Outgrowing Her Shy Side

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Watching Jana Kramer onstage, it’s impossible to believe she was ever too shy to sing. But, that’s what she told me Saturday (Aug. 3) when she was in Chicago with the Blake Shelton tour. “When I was in middle school, I shied away from singing,” she said. “I thought acting would just be easier. I was in the choir, but eventually gave up on singing because I didn’t think I had the voice to do it. I honestly don’t think I would’ve ever had the guts to do the music if I hadn’t acted first. I was still so timid even when I was doing [the WB/CW network series] One Tree Hill. I thought, ’I don’t know if I’m any good. I don’t know if I have the voice. What if everyone hears me, and they think I suck?’ So I had to build up this whole new confidence. Now I’m like, ’This is me. This is who I am.’ And I don’t make excuses for how I sound.”

But even as a timid teenager, Kramer could see herself doing something onstage. She knew she wasn’t going to go to college and moved to New York the day after her high school graduation. “I always remember being at my friend Rachel’s house in high school, and everyone was talking about what they got on their ACTs and where they were going to college,” she said. “I felt like a loser, and they were like, ’You’re not going to college?’ And I said I just wanted to try this, and I can always go back. My thing was, I just didn’t want to have something to fall back on. I didn’t want to have a degree and then think that if this doesn’t work out, I can always use my degree.” Obviously, having no fallback plan has worked out well for Kramer, but she does want to eventually attend college and study psychology. “I’d love to say that I have a college degree,” she said.