Go ahead. Tell Afton Prater she reminds you of Taylor Swift. She won’t mind.
In fact, she’ll tell you that Taylor Swift is one of the young pop country artists she admires.
And someday, she might just have the popularity that Taylor Swift has.
Afton, 15, is on the way to having a pop country music career. With a professionally produced CD made in Nashville behind her, and a music video in her near future, she’s steps closer to being a star.
“My dream would be to move to Nashville and perform before bigger audiences,” said Afton, who will be a sophomore at Klahowya Secondary School this fall. “I’d love to get signed with a big record label.”
She’s been performing for the past few years around Silverdale and Bremerton at the Kitsap County Fair, and places like the Mannette Saloon, Brother Don’s, and other clubs and coffeehouses. She writes her own songs and she sings and plays the guitar. Her interest in music began when she was very young.
“My dad (Reed) used to sing me to sleep, with old country songs,” she said.
Her mother Carrie pipes in “stuff like John Denver.”
And her mother taught Afton to play the guitar.
Most of Afton’s songs speak about teenage love, girls’ longings for the boys who won’t pay attention to them and heart-breaking breakups. All that from a young girl who has never been in love.
“My inspiration comes from my emotions,” she said. “I write about what I’ve known to happen or seen happen to my friends and on TV. I’m only 15. I don’t know a lot about love.”
Her first song was written at age 13 when she was in the eighth grade and is called “Losing My Mind.”
“It’s about how a girl sees a boy and it’s love at first sight,” she said. “It’s about how that feels.”
Maybe it’s what she’s learned around home that makes her wise beyond her years about love. After all, her parents were high-school sweethearts and have been together for 33 years.
At first, Afton said, her music was just for fun. She’d sing after she got her homework done. She’s an honor student and has played sports, including swimming, volleyball and baseball. She’s in the choir and she loves English classes.
“Then I started performing and I loved that,” she said.
Most of her gigs were at small places performing before less than 50 people.
One of them was a singer-songwriter contest at a bar in Bremerton. She was the only teen to perform along with 13 adults from all over the area. She made it to the final round and performed against two twin sisters from Tukwilla. She chose to sing “Compared to Her,” and won the contest. That landed her time in a recording studio where she recorded her first CD.
“It was special for me because my dad took me,” she said. “And it went on and on and I was up really late that night.”
Most of her success so far has been through her self-promotion. She has her music posted online at Reverbnation.com under her name Afton Prater. She used that first CD to promote appearances and has sold some at local venues. But just last May, she went to Nashville and recorded a new CD with a professional producer and studio musicians at a place called the Record Shop.
“It was eight hours everyday for four days in the studio,” she said. “It was really hard work. But I loved it.”
Her mother said everyone involved with the 6-song CD was “really, really pleased.” The producer is promoting Afton in the Nashville area .
The next step is a music video, which will be recorded July 19 at the Admiral Theater in Bremerton. Afton has just begun rehearsing with a group of local musicians and soon the video will be submitted to record labels on the East Coast as well as in Nashville.
For the music video and her performances, her mother helps her pick out her stage outfits. She likes the country look but she also just wants to appeal to teens who like any kind of music. She doesn’t get nervous when performing, she said.
“At first, maybe, a bit,” she said. “But I just try to get a feel of the place and a feel of the audience and then I just get up there and I just start singing.”
And drinking a lot of water, helps, too, she added.
She and her mother have thought about trying the reality TV show route. If so, it would be on The Voice.
“That’s our favorite,” Afton said. “We watch American Idol and America’s Got Talent. But we like The Voice best.”
With a younger brother involved in local baseball, and with her parents jobs being here, (her mother is a juvenile probation officer in Port Orchard and her father works in the Bremerton shipyard) moving to Nashville might not be in the picture right now. But Afton’s OK with that.
“I’ll just keep performing and see what happens,” she said. “I’m only 15.”
Afton will perform at the Kitsap County Fair Aug. 23 at 4 p.m. Find out more, hear her music and see her performance schedule at reverbnation.com. Search for Afton Prater under the artists tab.