Singer Katie Armiger played her first show in Utah on Thursday, Aug. 16, at the Davis County Fair, but she is no stranger to the fair circuit. That's where she got her start while still just a little gal from Houston.
"I started singing around age 9 -- fairs, festivals, every weekend," said Armiger, calling from the road in Colorado.
Armiger left home for Nashville at 15 years of age. She has since landed six videos on GAC's Top 20 countdown, gotten a good deal of radio support for her singles, and opened for acts like Brad Paisley and Jason Aldean.
Now 21, Armiger is working on her fourth album.
Armiger admits that coming of age in the music world, releasing her first album at 16, was not easy. She wrote a song about that struggle called "Leaving Home," a 2010 hit that was used by more than 60 high schools nationwide that year for a graduation song.
"We all had a hard time with me having to leave them," she said of her family. "But I think my folks dealt with it as best they could. They had jobs and other kids and could not move to Nashville with me, like you hear of other families doing. But I had a guardian travel with me when my parents or grandmother could not. They did not want to hold me back, and I am very grateful to them for that."
Armiger has long written her own material, but has also embraced the Nashville tradition of working with seasoned songwriters.
"I'm not seeking names," she said. "I go after who I think I can write a great song with."
Her most recent release, "Better in a Black Dress," was written with Blair Daly (Uncle Kracker, Rascal Flatts). She's also written with a number of women writers, including Sarah Buxton (co-writer of "Stupid Boy," recorded by Keith Urban).
Armiger believes men and women approach songwriting somewhat differently -- though that doesn't mean one gender writes better than the other.
"Men often are surprising at how well they approach a song from a girl's point of view, but sometimes, they want to have a female character say something she just would not. And I do think sometimes, when you are writing with a woman, they'll get exactly what you mean in a way that a guy won't. Other than that, it is pretty similar. I've written more with men than women."
Armiger adds that she hopes she is one day in the position to work as a mentor for an up-and-coming songwriter.
"I would love to write with young songwriters ... and kind of pay this time back by helping them."
Armiger is going with a bit of an overarching theme for this album, as yet untitled.
"I want to look at the evolution of love," she said. "I will start it with happy songs, and then go through a breakup and then the recovery."
Her first single, "Better in a Black Dress," has a bride in full regalia leaving her groom at the altar. We see her crawl out of her bridal whites and into something that never goes out of style -- the noir cocktail frock.
"As I see it, it is a song of empowerment," Armiger said of "Black Dress." "There is a breakup in the video and the song, but we didn't want it to be sad or mean, but just sassy and flirty and fun. I think it works that way."
Armiger said she is working with a bit different music style on this album, which she hopes to have out later this year.
"It is less produced, a bit more acoustic, and percussion-driven than my previous efforts," she said. "I wanted something not as completely polished as most of the stuff you hear out there. I want it to sound real."