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Katrina Elam was born Dec. 12, 1983, and raised in the small town of Bray, Okla. Her father was an oil worker, and her mother stayed at home. After singing at a 4-H talent show at age 9, Elam started performing at weddings, parties and corporate events in Oklahoma City, which was 90 minutes away.
The Oklahoma Country Music Association and the Oklahoma Opry each named her its female vocalist of the year in 1998 when she was 15. Later she became the youngest artist ever -- and the first female in 21 years -- to win the Oklahoma Opry's entertainer of the year award. In time, Reba McEntire invited her to join her during a concert with the Tulsa Philharmonic, and Vince Gill jumped onstage and played along during her appearance at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.
When Elam wrote her first song, the demo made its way through the labyrinth onto the desk of Cris Lacy, A&R director at Warner-Chappell Music. That song alone clinched a publishing contract when she was 16. She started coming to town for writing sessions so often that her mother took over her schooling in her senior year, at home and on the road. Just a year after that, her education completed, she moved to Nashville.
Lacy helped Elam secure a contract with Universal South, and Tony Brown and Jimmie Lee Sloas produced her album.