Reedsville teen Kenzie McCarter has released her debut EP “In My Mind” and will perform Friday at the Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair.
The 16-year-old singer-songwriter has roots in country, but said her musical style expands beyond that.
“My ‘sound’ is a blend of different influences and genres,” McCarter said. “I use properties of both pop and rock music to embellish my ultimately country sound.”
The EP, written and recorded locally, is the culmination of McCarter and company’s teamwork and dedication. The songs all tell stories of what she’s experienced or watched others go through, she said.
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“I write because I never want to forget how I felt at the time of the event,” she said. “Once I had about 10 songs written, I contacted a local producer, Johnny X. He basically told me (at our very first meeting) that if the songs weren’t good, he wouldn’t help me; to say I was a tad discouraged and intimidated is an understatement.”
Lucky for McCarter, her talent would win the day.
“Fortunately, he really liked them, and we narrowed it down to the six songs on the EP,” she said. “He then brought in amazing musicians: Ryan Carter, Dana Hawk and Greg Reigle. We recorded the bass and drums at West Market Studios and then finished the album at Johnny’s studio, The Dog Leaves Thursday in Lewistown. Ryan and Johnny really went the distance in helping me achieve this dream.”
McCarter thinks the album, which took more than a year to make, signifies a benchmark in her music career.
“I can honestly say that I’ve never worked harder on a project and I cannot be more proud of the final result,” she said. “This EP captures some of my most genuine and candid feelings.”
Not content to spend her summer like a “typical teen,” McCarter has been playing weekly shows for crowds all around Happy Valley.
“I’m generally playing one to two shows every week during the summer,” she said. “I mostly perform two-hour sets at fairs and festivals, but I also provide music at churches and nonprofit events, such as Relay for Life.”
She’ll perform Friday night at the Grange Fair.
“My shows consist of country covers ranging from Maren Morris to Patsy Cline, and of course a couple originals from ‘In My Mind.’ I also try to include something for non-country people, so you may hear some Alanis Morisette or Fleetwood Mac as well.”
Exuberance and enthusiasm are hallmark for McCarter. She is ready to face the challenges of being a professional musician, with a goal of living in Nashville and pursuing her dream in the next five years.
“I would love to release a full-length album in the next five years or have one on the way,” she said. “While getting a degree, I plan on ‘knocking on doors’ with the hopes of receiving a record deal. There will be doors shut in my face, but all I need is one to crack open just a little.”
“In My Mind” is available for purchase on iTunes, and McCarter invites people to check it out, and visit her at Grange Fair.
“My shows are all about fun. I’m not just a singer, I perform,” she said. “I’m full of energy on stage. The only time I’m not bouncing around is when I have my guitar, and even then I’m still moving my feet. Just like my EP, there’s something about my show that everyone can enjoy. Come on out, I’d love to talk to you.”
IF YOU GO
- What: Kenzie McCarter
- When: 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. Friday
- Where: Jubilee Grove, Grange fairgrounds
- Info: www.kenziemccarter.com