"I don't think I chose music, I think it chose me," says 17-year-old newcomer Kaci Brown
, explaining that it all began for her at the tender age of three. "My mom said I would run around the house with a wooden spoon and diapers singing 'I've Got Friends In Low Places' by Garth Brooks
With one listen of her debut album Instigator
, it's clear that Kaci has that innate star quality bestowed on very few. Not only does she have impressive pipes with extraordinary range, moving from honey-sweet whispers to rich, full bellows on gorgeous ballads but she also delivers playful, dance-infused vocals over big beats.
Growing up in the small town of Sulphur Springs, Texas, Kaci was raised on a healthy diet of the Southern tradition-from Sunday afternoon cookouts to homegrown music. "I was a country girl, from the South," says Kaci. Her musical tastes quickly became more diverse, as she was exposed to jazz, big band, R&B and, of course, pop. "I saw Celine Dion when I was 7 years old and she was so amazing and inspiring!"
After winning the title of "Little Miss Texas Grand Talent" at 10 years old, Kaci performed every weekend at oprys and venues across the state, honing her skills, but it was during her first trip to Nashville for the Fan Fair CMA Music Festival that she realized where she belonged. "I couldn't enter the talent competition because I was too young and by the time I went home I was already writing my first song," remembers Kaci, who plays both piano and guitar by ear. And so that Kaci could follow her destiny, her family uprooted their lives in Texas to move to Nashville, where Kaci became the youngest artist to land a publishing deal at just 13 years old.
When she began the songwriting process with some of the best on Nashville's Music Row, Kaci was encouraged to embrace different genres and mix up her sound from straightforward country. "At first I was like, 'I'm from Texas, I yodel!' says Kaci with a laugh. "But country music is very structured with verse-chorus-verse, and I liked experimenting."
And that's exactly what she did. With the help of her producer and co-writer Toby Gad, Kaci created a diverse album that moves with ease from big, sweeping ballads to soulful pop. The first single "Unbelievable," truly lives up to its title with Kaci's emotionally-charged vocals. "It's about the crazy things love makes you do," she says. "It's about being in the shadow, and believing things that you know can't be true. When you're in love you're blinded to truths."
While she can knock out ballads with the best of them, Kaci shows she's still a teenage girl who knows how to have fun and, at times, be a little boy crazy! With the title track "Instigator," Kaci creates the greatest going-out anthem for girls everywhere with catchy beats, fun rhymes by guest rappers VA Slim and El Fudge, and sassy lyrics. "I'm very real, and open and honest, and I'm not ashamed to say I can at times be an instigator!" says Kaci with her infectious giggle. "All girls like to have fun, and know they're looked at and that doesn't mean that they're too risqué and going to get into trouble. I'm currently instigating!"
Whether she's "looking for single, hot, gorgeous boys" in between giggles on "Like 'Em Like That" or yearning with sadness for her feelings to be reciprocated on "Cadillac Hotel," Kaci's vocals are always full of authentic emotions that you just can't fake.
And with all her talent at just 17 years old, Kaci has a blindingly bright future ahead-though for her it's really all about the music. "I just want to do this for the rest of my life," she says. "I'll always be involved in music."
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