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Home-Grown Talent

April 2, 2008 - Phyllis Sigal
Katie Orlofske.

Remember that name, because I'm betting you'll hear it again in the world of country music.

After listening to some of her songs on her Web site last weekend, my husband and I decided to hear her perform at River City Ale Works. She was opening for the Chris Higbee Project.

Just 17, a senior at St. John's in Bellaire, she's got an incredible voice. Not one note out of tune, my husband noted. And I've got to say, he's got a good ear when it comes to music.

She recorded her first CD at the age of 12, and she writes a bit and plays guitar. She also was the 2007 W.Va. state winner of the Colgate Country Showdown, according to her Web site.

During Saturday's performance, the crowd loved her. And when she talked — just a couple of times during her set — she showed her ability to connect with her audience. She covered such singers as LeeAnn Rimes, the Dixie Chicks, Sara Evans, Martina McBride, Miranda Lambert and JoDee Messina.

Her mom, Sherrie Orlofske, served as "sound engineer," taking charge of the equipment that provided the recorded backing tracks.

I spoke with Sherrie after Katie finished singing. Katie would love to head straight for Nashville after she graduates from high school, but mom thinks she should have a backup plan, perhaps go to nursing school.

Katie ... I'm telling you, you've got a heck of voice!!! Whenever you do decide to head to Nashville or to the American Idol auditions, I'll be pulling for you!

I'd put her up against any country singer I've heard on American Idol!

And, as far as more home-grown talent. ... Nate Strasser really can do it all. I recently blogged about him when he performed George Gershwin's "Concerto in F" with the WVU Symphony Orchestra. And Saturday night he performed on keyboard with the Chris Higbee Project. Higbee, who had formed the PovertyNeck HIllbillies, has now created the CHP.

Nate tore it up on those keyboards, much to the delight of the crowd — and it sure seemed like many of those who came out Saturday night were there for Nate. The chanting of "NATE NATE NATE NATE" was the first clue!

He is equally at home on a classical piece, jazzing it up on the old standards or going country, as he did Saturday night. Nate, you really are amazing!!


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