By Taylor Rexrode
A Baylor student will share the stage with some of the biggest names in country music on Sunday.
McGregor sophomore Trannie Stevens will sing at the 2013 Texas Heritage Songwriters’ Hall of Fame Awards Show. Stevens will join Toby Keith, Jack Ingram, Larry Gatlin, Ronnie Dunn and Sonny Curtis as performers at the show in Austin.
The Texas Heritage Songwriters’ Association has celebrated Texas songwriters for the past eight years. This year’s Hall of Fame inductees include Ronnie Dunn, Sonny Curtis and Roger Miller.
Stevens, a former Uproar Records singer-songwriter, said she was surprised by the invitation to perform. She recalls being told about the show and thinking she would watch.
Stevens said she thought she was just getting a free ticket to the awards show, but then she was asked to perform.
Stevens has been preparing for the show since that phone call in January.
Fort Worth senior Mark Hamilton, president of Uproar Records, believes that Stevens’ hard work and determination have allowed her career to flourish. “Trannie is quickly becoming one of our more notorious artists,” Hamilton said. “She is really willing to take feedback. She is upbeat and positive and is really driven. She wants this to be her life.”
Last May, Stevens won Collegiate Songwriter of the Year at the KUSP Songwriting Competition, which sent her to Nashville where she recorded professional demos. Hamilton said the contest “launched her career” so that Stevens could have opportunities such as performing at the Hall of Fame Awards Show.
Stevens said she didn’t always find it easy in the music industry. At times, she second-guessed herself and her talent.
“There were a few moments where in the auditions you think who you are isn’t good enough or entertaining enough,” Stevens said. “The more I tried to be something I wasn’t, the more I realized I wanted to be the real Trannie.”
Stevens said she overcame her identity struggle and now wants her career as a singer-songwriter to help people remember to stay true to themselves.
“I really want to be an advocate for being yourself and not changing for people,” Stevens said. “I think that God created you a certain way. You rob the person you were created to be if you are anything other than yourself.”
From the time she was 6 years old to now, Stevens has learned a lot about what it takes to be a musician. Her faith and confidence have helped lead her to where she is now. “It’s a really tough industry and I’m learning that more and more,” Stevens said. “I have the mentality that I’m going to work hard and get better and I’m going to make connections.”
As Stevens prepares for this weekend’s performance, she offers a piece of advice for future artists.
“Somebody has got to do it,” Stevens said. “If everyone thought they weren’t going to make it, then there would be no musicians. God is the one who gives you the opportunity. I believe in fate and I believe you should just go for it.”
The event is presented by Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater in Austin. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the performance starts at 7 p.m. Tickets may be bought online at acl-live.com. Ticket prices range from $39 to $99.