The 2017 Nash Next challenge is down to 10 finalists, and in the lead-up to the announcement of the champion on Nov. 1, NCD will be profiling each of the 10 finalists.
Today, we are getting to know Katie Austin.
In May, Cumulus Media and Big Machine Label Group invited aspiring country artists and bands to participate in Nash Next 2017, a grassroots talent search and artist development program for country music. Sponsored nationally by Country Inns & Suites by Carlson, the winner of the competition will receive a recording contract with Nash Next Records under the Big Machine Label Group and garner substantial exposure, commensurate with a major-label release, on Cumulus radio stations nationwide.
The 10 finalists were selected by a panel of country radio professionals and will be judged in the finale by a group that includes Brooks & Dunn’s Kix Brooks and Scott Borchetta, president and CEO of Big Machine Label Group. The 10 finalists will perform at the 2017 Nash Next finale event at Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The event is open to the public.
How did you get started in music?
I started out in the dance world. One of my favorites styles of dance is called “Lyrical,” and it’s about portraying the story of the song and showcasing the emotion. This is where my love for music and lyrics started. I had always dreamed of being a singer, too, but I didn’t have the guts to try it until my date at a high school dance said I was singing along to the song that was playing. I didn’t even realize I was singing under my breath, but he said I was good. This was the moment I decided to try it.
At what age did you realize you wanted to make music your career?
In some form or fashion I’ve always wanted music to be a part of my career. When I was originally bit by the performance bug, I dreamed of dancing in Broadway and Disney musicals. Little did I know I’d trade in my dance shoes for a microphone, but I wouldn’t change my path even if I could. I think the moment I realized I could really do this for a living was when the Cowboys Dancehall in Texas hired me to be one of their female headliners. I was so nervous to perform for that many people on a regular basis, but I was also really excited that they believed in me enough to give me the opportunity. It was someone other than my mom saying “You can do this.”
What three words describe you?
Driven, powerhouse, inspirational.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Martina McBride and Celine Dion. I loved the “moments” they created in songs with their powerhouse notes. Some newer artists that influence me are Lauren Alaina and Maren Morris. They both know who they are and what they want to say—and they own it! I love that about them.
What is unique about your sound?
I think my uniqueness comes from growing up with so many different styles of music in my life. I like to think I pull a little magic from each one. My dad listened to country. My brother listened to a variety of rock and pop. I listened to everything, including country, musical theater, and hip hop, depending on what choreography I was working on. My mom listened to whatever we put on the radio [laughing].
What three albums would you take with you to a deserted island?
Randy Houser’s How Country Feels, Kelsea Ballerini’s The First Time and Jake Owen’s Barefoot Blue Jean Night.
What’s a song you wish you had written?
Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me,” which was written by Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin. Dang, it’s so well written.
What was the first concert you attended?
Backstreet Boys. Nick Carter was my everything [laughing].
What’s the last song you heard that blew you away?
Lauren Alaina’s “Three.” Every singer/songwriter should shed a tear or two listening to that song.
What’s your go-to karaoke song?
“Sweet Child of Mine.” It’s fun for the crowd to singalong, and I get to hit some fun notes at the end for the big finale.
Where is the most unusual place you’ve performed?
I lived and performed on the Carnival Cruise Line’s The Ecstacy for four and a half months. I’d have to say out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by water would definitely take the cake on this one.