While many aspiring artists have met their idols backstage at a concert, it usually involves them waiting outside the dressing room of their idol for an introduction.
For Katie Love Hess, it was the other way around.
After her opening performance at Canadian country music festival Craven Country Jamboree, Hess walked out the door of her trailer. She was shocked when Pam Tillis, who would be headlining that night’s concert, had her driver bring her over so the two could meet.
Tillis had caught the end of Hess’ performance and wanted to meet the young performer. The two chatted about Hess’ aspirations and plans. Before leaving, Tillis praised her talent, encouraging her to keep working hard and to follow her childhood dreams.
When Hess got her start singing at a church talent show at four years old, everyone knew she’d found her lifelong calling. As a small girl grew into a big voice, she cut her teeth singing sweet gospel hymns and R&B classics and, after high school, touring with an a capella band.
In 2005, she auditioned for Canadian Idol. Hess’ heartfelt, honey-soaked vocals, stage appeal and connection to the audience was strong enough to earn her a place in the final cut (top 42). At the auditions, one of the judges suggested she pursue country music.
“I always loved country music but was always told my voice had a bit too much “soul” for traditional country. Then, as artists like Carrie Underwood changed what country could sound like, I felt like I could take all my influences and still have a home in mainstream country music,” says Hess, who cites her influences as Bonnie Raitt, Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin alongside country greats Crystal Gayle and Faith Hill. “It’s good to sound different, as long as different sounds good,” laughs Hess.
So, in 2007, she competed and won the 620 CKRM Big Country Talent Show along with a first prize of a recording session and radio airplay of her debut single “Great Day to Be in Love” (written by Carolyn Dawn Johnson). The song’s success led Hess to start writing and recording songs for a full-length album project.
Hess has continued to work on her songwriting craft, and a recent brush with Hollywood has encouraged her to keep putting her own words and music out there.
In December 2009, Ashton Kutcher came across an acoustic video of her song “Best Part of Christmas”, sent it to his wife Demi Moore as a Christmas message, and Moore tweeted about the song on her Twitter page. The video has received attention from around the world and earned Hess new friends and fans from Saudi Arabia, Australia, Hungary and all over the US and Canada.
Hess is currently in the studio finishing her debut album. Her follow-up single “I Like It Like That” was released in January 2010 and received national airplay.