Recently nominated for the IMEA Country Female Artist of the Year and Country Song of the Year for her single, "Take My Hand," country newcomer Katie Perkins is blazing her own trail on the country music scene. Classically trained in voice, the singer-songwriter, and Connecticut native, blends country and pop in songs that focus on impactful storytelling. Recently, Perkins graciously called to talk about her roots, "Take My Hand" and more.
Your interest in music goes back to a very early age.
I’ve been singing pretty much ever since I could talk. I performed in my first talent show, which was also the first time I performed in front of an audience, when I was ten or eleven. And as soon as I walked off the stage I knew that music was what I wanted to do with my life - and the story kind of writes itself from there.
Ever since then music has been my top priority in life. I wanted to be a well-rounded musician, so I started taking voice lessons at thirteen, took music theory in high school and went onto college to study at Berklee.
Prior to heading to Berklee, you had a health scare. How did that impact the pursuit of your dream of music?
That definitely impacted my life. Music was always important, but I didn’t realize how important until all of this happened. One night when I was fifteen, I was hyperventilating and couldn’t stop. My mom took me to the emergency room where they did an EKG which found a hole in my heart. I was told I needed open heart surgery and if I didn’t have it, I could die from a heart attack or stroke in thirteen years - if I made it that long. That was a lot for me to take in, but even as he was telling me I needed surgery, the first thing that came to mind was that I was going to need to have a tube down my throat and if it hit my vocal chords in the wrong way I may never be able to sing again. I made the doctors promise that they would do whatever it took to ensure that I could wake up and sing again - because I would rather sing for the next thirteen years than never sing at all. It took a lot of thinking, but they used the smallest breathing tube they possibly could and said as long as I could respond to commands in the recovery room, they would take the breathing tube out - which is unheard of. I had the surgery, which was successful, and now, part of me feels like because it was found so randomly, that I was saved for a reason. It made me realize even more that music was what I needed to be doing and what I needed to fight for.
Your music blends pop and country; what made you gravitate to those genres and do you have any particular influences from either on your writing, singing or performing?
When I started singing, pop was what I wanted to do - I actually didn’t like country! My sister used to put it on in the car and I’d say, “Oh, no how long until we get where we are going?” (laughing), but then I started listening and I fell in love with it because of the storytelling. In fact, whenever I listen to a song I always focus on the lyrics and story first and when I write, it comes from that same place - a place of storytelling, I like to walk a person through a story so they can visualize what is happening as they listen.
For country, I love Carrie and Miranda – they’re two of my favorites along with Kacey Musgraves who is a true talent when it comes to songwriting and is so very inspirational.
The recently released single, "Take My Hand," premiered on Taste of Country. That must have been exciting! What drew you to the song?
I was so excited; that was a big one for me!
I was introduced to Linda Pestana, who wrote the song, and asked if I would sing it. I listened and fell in love with it because it has something I feel like everyone can relate to; it’s one of those songs that can help remind you that you’re strong enough to deal with anything that comes your way. Even now, when I’m in a bad place, I listen to the song because it’s so uplifting, reminding you who you are and that you can make it.
It has a very uplifting message.
Will the song be on an upcoming EP?
As of now, we’re going to solely release singles to keep the momentum going. We want to put out something new for people every couple of months with the next one that I wrote, “Break My Fall,” hopefully coming by the end of August.
You have performed at some very well-known local venues, do you have plans to play out more?
As of right now, I have an awesome band and we pretty much play out every weekend, which is great for me. We play mostly in Connecticut, but we’re starting to expand more into New England. I’m looking forward to going out to playing in new places and bringing the music to new audiences.
Finally, I always like to know – is there one recent release you cannot stop listening to?
Kelly Clarkson’s “Piece By Piece.” I love that album and listen to it all the time.
For more information visit her official website
Find her on Facebook and Twitter
Purchase "Take My Hand" here
Vote for Katie and "Take My Hand" on the IMEA ballot here