When Katie Perkins, 24, a country singer and East Lyme native, started performing with a band, it was sometimes hard to find country-friendly venues in the area. As part of a burgeoning country scene in the state, Perkins will perform Friday night in Somers at the Hartford County 4-H Fair, August 15 to 17.
"Music has always been a part of my life," Perkins said, but she didn't always like country. When her sister became interested in the genre, she said, her original dislike for it began to change. She gradually realized that the music had more of a story line. "You can visualize an entire story in your head while you listen to these songs," she said. "That's what really pulled me into country music." Perkins has been in love with country ever since, and now sings a crossover of country-pop music.
Regional venues were not very interested in hiring country musicians early on in her career, Perkins said. The country scene has become more prevalent, though. "Now anyone involved in country music has a lot more opportunities to get their music out there and play," she said. "It’s awesome to see!"
In addition to her love for the genre, Perkins is further motivated by the devotion of her audience. "They feed my energy on stage," she said.
Inspired by Mariah Carey and Celine Dion at the age of three, Perkins would walk around the house singing. When she was in fifth grade, Perkins discovered a passion for performing when she participated in a talent show. As her interest in music grew, she turned to the singer/songwriters Colbie Caillat, Miranda Lambert, and Sarah Bareilles for inspiration. At 13, Perkins committed to classical voice lessons, and later attended Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Perkins, who writes her own songs, was nominated for Country Female Artist of the Year at the International Music and Entertainment Association (IMEA) Awards.
Released last year, Perkins’s album Breathe stemmed from her determination in overcoming open heart surgery. Music aided her perseverance, and as she remembered to "just breathe," lyrics flowed, as did the title to her album. Perkins had a hole in her heart, and was told that without surgery, she had 13 more years to live without surgery. With surgery, a breathing tube could end up destroying her vocal chords.
Perkins said she would rather sing for 13 more years than not be able to sing for the rest of her life, but agreed to the procedure. In 2010, she debuted her first album, Amazing, followed by Breathe three years later.
"Everyone goes through hard times in their lives, and they can push through them," Perkins said.
Perkins and her band will take to the 4H fair’s stage to sing original songs and covers at 6:30 pm on Friday, August 15. They will also play in the country show at the Hebron Harvest Fair on September 6.