The Beat N’ Track plays on this month with senior entertainment industries studies major, Katie Kendall. She always knew music was tugging on her heart strings and when Kendall was 12 years old, her family had confidence that a move to Gallatin, Tenn. was a step in the right direction. Since that move so many years ago, Kendall has been able to incorporate her small-town roots into four EPs, two Christmas albums, and numerous performances in some of Nashville’s legendary venues.
Belmont Vision: When did you realize you had a love for music?
Katie Kendall: I couldn’t even tell you. It’s been ever since before I could start conducting sentences. I was definitely influenced by Celine Dion as a child. She is the reason I became so passionate about music at such a young age. When we would travel anywhere, my mom would pop the Celine Dion tape in and I would just sing along with her. I probably wasn’t singing the right lyrics that early, but I tried. I was also influenced by the songs the princesses in the Disney movies would sing, so from a very young age, I surrounded myself with unforgettable music.
BV: You mentioned Celine Dion was a music influence, are there any others?
KK: My main focus is country music, so I am influenced by Martina McBride. She is definitely a big, big reason why I perform the way I perform. Vocally I tend to think I sound more like her, and the way I write songs has been influenced by her. I also look up to Carrie Underwood.
BV: And who is your biggest influence in your personal life?
KK: I would say probably my mom because ever since she heard that I could actually carry a tune as a young child, she has worked vigorously to try to help me pursue my dream. I couldn’t ask for a better mom. Both my parents have stood by me my whole life and have gone to great lengths to help me further my career and further my passion for music. They are there everywhere I sing. Even if it’s a little writer’s round at Hotel Indigo or singing the national anthem at a basketball or volleyball game, anywhere I am singing, they’re there. They try not to miss anything. I can’t even think of a time they’ve missed a performance of mine, so I am truly thankful because I know a lot of people don’t have great parents that support them.
BV: You listed country influences, so would you say country is your style?
KK: Yes. That’s the style I write, it’s the style I sing the most. However, I do have a passion for pop and R&B genres of music as well. I love to sing covers of Jennifer Hudson, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys and Aretha Franklin. I feel like I am in a whole different element when I sing that genre of music, but I do love singing all different styles. Whatever sound I think I have potential to sing, I take advantage of that, but my heart will always be in country music.
BV: So does that mean we may be seeing you at the Country Music Showcase in 2013?
KK: I would love to be in the showcase this year! I auditioned last year, but I just started writing songs about a year ago. It took me forever to come out of my shell and actually put my thoughts onto paper, so I definitely got a late start as far as that goes. Fortunately I have grown over this past year and I’ve had some recordings done and written more songs. So I have evolved as a songwriter and I am better prepared to try again this year. Hopefully it will work out because I would love to be a part of that.
BV: You are pursuing a degree as an entertainment industry studies major, so where do you see your musical talent taking you along the way after you graduate?
KK: I still want to pursue my career as an artist, however, if that doesn’t work, that’s why I began to focus on learning the industry and business side of music because coming to Belmont, I didn’t know a lot about it. My mom had read books over the years and she would tell me some things about record labels and about songwriters and major names I should know, but I really didn’t know how the industry worked as a business. That’s what I wanted to learn more about in my studies. As I am preparing to graduate, I still want to have a career in the music industry whether it is as an artist, in music publishing, A&R, or in any field really, as long as I am a part of the industry in some way, I’ll be happy. I have a love for it all now.
BV: You have played at numerous venues around Nashville including The Stage, Hotel Indigo, and The Tin Roof. Which one do you think is your favorite?
KK: I really love performing at the Wildhorse Saloon even though it has been quite some time since I played there. My most recent favorite would have to be the Hard Rock Café. I loved the whole atmosphere of that venue, and [my family] actually went there a lot when I was a little girl, so being able to perform there was a dream come true. I am playing there again on Oct. 4 with Marla Morris and Lyndsey Crawford and I am very excited for that. I will have a full house band and I will be performing some originals and also some covers.
BV: Tell us about your latest and fourth EP, “Leather & Lace.”
KK: It’s all original songs. I co-wrote three of them with Madison Hardy, who is a former Belmont student and was part of the Country Showcase two years ago. She and I got together and found an instant chemistry. We would play off each other’s ideas and I think that really helped the whole EP come together. One of my friends who actually influenced me to start songwriting, Alex Conerly, is an awesome guitarist and he brought in our melodies. This EP is a lot of my own thoughts and my own ideas and it’s been my favorite one so far. To see my work come to life onto an actual album is amazing. Being able to have it available on iTunes is a thrill as well.
BV: You have accomplished a lot already, what else is left for you?
KK: I have come to the reality that I want to seize every opportunity and know that nothing is too small or too big for me. I just want to take in every opportunity, soak in every moment that I possibly can because you never know what’s going to happen, being in the right place at the right time, who’s going to hear you. I want to keep making connections, songwriting and singing out at venues whenever an opportunity arises.
BV: Is there any element in your music you bring from your small town to the big city?
KK: I’m still a country girl, a southern girl. That’s never going to change so that small, hometown girl sense comes out in the style I write. Honestly, my personality comes out in my music as whatever I am feeling that day, whatever is on my mind. That’s a small town girl – she’s going to be somewhere in every song I write.
BV: What is something non-music related that is on your bucket list?
KK: I don’t know when I want to do this, but I have a love for baking, so I would love to open up my own bakery or coffee shop one day perhaps when I am much older. Baking is my therapy as well as singing so I want to see if I can make that dream happen as well. I am also a big fashion freak. All my friends and sorority sisters always beg me to do their hair and make-up for special occasions. Maybe someday I can open up a little fashion boutique.