Newcomer Katie Armiger's powerful vocals and skillful songwriting are clearly showcased on her new music. At the ripe age of 20, Katie does not hold back and has an inspiring combination of determination and passion that shines through in her music.
Rarely do you hear of a young artist whose vocal ability and talent is compared to the likes of seasoned country artists like Sara Evans and Martina McBride, but Katie Armiger, who burst onto the country music scene is just that.
"I think some people look at me as a young girl who is unsure of what I want or my own mind. But that's not really the case. I know exactly what I want, and I hope you can figure that out by listening to this album."
Confident, secure, bold, assertive, vulnerable and in-your-face could all describe the songs on the new album, Confessions of a Nice Girl, as well as the artist who sings them. Katie Armiger, who released her first album when she was just 15 years old, has amassed a collection of songs on her third album that touches upon just about every emotion imaginable - love, infatuation, anger, sadness, hurt, happiness - and she is unabashedly unapologetic in showcasing her feelings, whatever form they may encompass.
The 20-year-old singer-songwriter has accomplished more during her four years as a recording artist than most people twice her age. Her previous single, "Kiss Me Now," the flirtatious ode to new love she co-wrote with Sarah Buxton and Blair Daly, was her second to hit the Top 40 on the Billboard Indicator Chart, while "Trail of Lies" landed in the Top 20 on Music Row, setting a record as the Highest Charting Independent Female Artist in 2009.
Katie also earned the title of the Highest Charting Independent Female Artist of 2008 on R&R with "Unseen," and the young lady with the enviable voice set yet another record for the highest debut for a solo independent artist since 2003 on the Music Row chart with her debut single, "17 in Abilene," in 2007.
The dream of making it on Music Row seemed fated for the Texas native with the soaring voice and radiant personality, reminiscent of Martina McBride, Shania Twain and Sara Evans. At the ripe old age of 10, Katie discovered a talent for arranging her thoughts and feelings into writing songs and poetry. Honing her craft, Katie also realized she could put those songs and poems to music and perform them with understated conviction.
When she was 14, she entered Houston's Best Country Singer competition sponsored by Radio 93Q Country, and after eight weeks, she took home the grand prize and a shot at recording a two-song demo, which developed into her self-titled debut album. After gaining a little more experience and spending more time on the road opening for such hit makers as Jason Aldean, Craig Morgan and Luke Bryan, Katie came with her critically acclaimed sophomore effort, Believe.
Now with the release of Confessions of a Nice Girl on Cold River Records folks will not only get a peek into her psyche, but a good long look at the mind of a woman who has encountered love, heartbreak and resentment. "I recorded my second album when I was 15, and between 15 and 19, there is just a huge difference," declares Katie. "Within those years, your life changes you can fall in love and fall out of it, go on tours and live life in that time span that you couldn't even imagine."
Her enthusiasm for the new music is immediately evident, almost contagious. She wrote or co-wrote nine of the 13 songs on the disc, sharing talents and ideas with some of Nashville's most innovative tunesmiths, such as Sarah Buxton and Blair Daly ("Kiss Me Now," "Leaving Home," "Scream"), Rebecca Lynn Howard ("That's Why") and Joe West ("Can't Keep Myself From Loving You"). Katie has really upped the ante over the past four years, totally giving herself over to the music. "I can't really tell you an exact moment when it happened," Katie muses over the growth in her songwriting. "I just feel like when you're writing and living life and going on tour, you grow. When you grow, you become more comfortable in your skin and your likes and dislikes, and that's what helps you become more confident. When you as a person become more confident, I think it definitely translates into songwriting, because songwriting is an expression of self." She tossed four of her own songs off the disc to make room for four she did not write ("Nice Girl," "Ain't Gonna Happen," "Can You Handle It" and "Strong Enough") because of just how well they embodied her own thoughts.
The album's title, Confessions of a Nice Girl, was chosen by her fans in a contest held by television network Great American Country (GAC). "I've been working on this album for such a long time now, writing and preparing and recording," admits Katie. "I never expected it to be as hard as it was to name the album. I sat down with my label and we were talking about options, and I made a list of my favorite titles and couldn't narrow it down to just one. So, we got together with GAC and they came up with the idea of having a contest and having fans vote for the title."
One song on the new album with more meaning today than a year ago, is her self-penned "Leaving Home," which she wrote as a tribute to her mother right before she made the permanent move to Nashville at the beginning of 2010.
"I've always known that singing was my dream and it's what I wanted to do, but it's definitely extremely hard to leave your parents," she says of "Leaving Home" used by more than 20 high schools in the nation as their graduation song. In the achingly sweet video, clips of old home videos and family photos are shown all the while Katie is reassuring her mother she will not fall victim to the trappings of fame.
Confessions of a Nice Girl begins with the perky and happy melody of "Best Song Ever," a tune she co-wrote with Amanda Flynn and Bruce Wallace, that belies the darker undertones of what is really going on in the mind of this young woman.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are the flirtatious tales of infatuation and new love, "Kiss Me Now" and "Can't Keep Myself From Loving You." She teamed with renowned guitarist Charlie Sexton (Bob Dylan, Stevie Ray Vaughn) to produce the lovely "I Will Be," which she co-wrote with Lisa McCallum, and the heartache portrayed by Katie is so palpable you can cut it with a knife. "Working with Katie is so much fun," says Lisa. "She is the most down-to-earth artist I've ever worked with, and is not only extremely talented, but a great person." Having a handful of strong female songwriters on the album in Sarah Buxton, Katrina Elam, Rachel Proctor and Rebecca Lynn Howard has pushed Katie to a new level of artistry. "They're amazing songwriters, because they let you express whatever you're feeling and build around that," marvels the singer. "So, when you get in there, all they want to do for 30 minutes is talk about where you are in your life, where you are in relationships, anything like that. They sit down, they get inside your mind and just take apart different things you're feeling, and that's what you write about. So, I think that's why the songs you write with them and that they write are so good, because it's just raw emotion right there [in your face]."
Speaking of raw emotion, take the heart wrenching "That's Why" and "Cry, Cry, Cry" about the aftermath of a breakup or the rockin' Rachel Proctor-Bruce Wallace collaboration "I'm over you, and I'm moving on" song, "Ain't Gonna Happen," showcasing a different side of the sweet-tempered singer, along with the guitar-driven, down-and-dirty "Ain't So Sweet,' an alliance with the Three Kings, otherwise known as Jason Aldean's band. The guys not only appear on the track, but also co-produced it with Katie. That brings us to "Nice Girl," the inspiration behind the title of the album. "My definition of a nice girl is somebody who is always sweet, and they are nice to everybody they meet. No matter how bad or good the situation is, they're going to look at the positive side, which is what I always try to do," she says, with a slight twinkle in her eye.
Katie chose award winning engineer Chad Carlson, who is also a popular audio engineer and has won a pair of Grammys for his contributions on Taylor Swift's Fearless. "I love making music with Katie," says Carlson. "I can't remember being more excited about a project I've worked on.Katie has the soul of someone that's experienced more than her share of life's ups and downs and the passion for music that inspires me to love music."
Confessions of a Nice Girl is exactly that - a peek inside the mind of a nice girl, and a chance to glimpse what's really behind that smile. "These songs are a mixture of things that have happened to me or emotions that I felt," says Katie. "You know, maybe a guy dumped me and did all these horrible things like cheat on me. I feel you can have the same emotion in many different forms. I truly believe this is the best music I can create and I hope everyone finds something different in the songs.
Katie Armiger has just scratched the surface of what she is capable of. She is a passionate and driven performer well beyond her years.
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