WALLA WALLA - Saturday night in a winery on Main Street, 47 miles from her home town, Kate Turner sang like her dreams depended on it, which they do.
"I really like the wineries because I really get to do more types of music," the country music singer from Burbank said to more than 30 people, just before starting her first set at Walla Faces tasting room.
As much as she likes performing covers and crossing over into other genres - like Adele or Alice Cooper - becoming a country music star is what Turner aspires to.
But that wasn't always the case for the 25-year-old who three years ago was a junior in college, engaged to be married and living at the opposite end of the country.
"I wouldn't have done anything different because I feel everything is hopping now because of what happened. If I wouldn't have went to Kentucky, I would have never gone to Nashville, and I wouldn't be where I am," Turner said.
She said she has spent much of the last two years promoting herself on her website, producing a music video and selling her songs online for 99 cents.
The hard work is paying off.
Turner said she recently signed a short-term contract with a concert promoter to tour this spring and summer as an opener for some fairly well-known performers.
On April 28 Turner will get her first big break when she sings for an audience of 10,000 at the Texas Wish Jam in Fort Worth. She'll open for Bad Company, Molly Hatchet and Jimmie Van Zant.
Then she gets to do it again in May at a similar music jam in Louisiana.
"Things are moving now so quickly. I have only been doing shows in the Tri-Cities since August, and now I have management that takes care of it for me," Turner said.
The downside of the tour is that Turner won't be taking along her one and only regular band member, guitarist Bill Duluhosh, as she tours solo.
"I am sure it is going to be lonely, and I am a girl and it makes me worried about traveling by myself ... but I am a strong person and I am not worried about it. I can take care of myself," she said.
Still, if she had her druthers, Turner would be in Nashville right now, maybe with a big record label and definitely singing her own songs.
But the young woman from the northwest end of Walla Walla County said she recognized that home is where the heart is, and a whole lot more. That's why, when most country singers would head to Nashville to get their start, she headed back to Burbank.
"It was that I knew that I needed to be surrounded by support if I was really going to start doing my music ... I have been really lucky because there has been a lot of local support that has pushed me along really quickly. I only released my EP in July and the ball has been rolling really fast," Turner said.
For Turner, that ball of life has definitely bounced her back and fourth across the country.
A Columbia High School Class of 2004 graduate, Turner played volleyball, basketball and softball in high school, which was part of the reason she wanted to become a sports broadcaster.
That dream would change during her junior year at the University of Kentucky, when she took a road trip with friends to Nashville.
"I was just like, ‘Wow.' I thought I would go to Nashville and be overwhelmed," Turner said
Instead, she found herself encouraged to take the stage and sing at a couple of clubs for open mike night.
Those clubs were the Coyote Ugly Saloon and Bluebird Cafe.
"I got there and heard what was going on there and thought, Oh, I can do this just as good as other people and I write better music. And it instilled a lot of confidence in me," she said.
More than that, it rekindled a dream that she never had given up on and had always wondered if she was good enough to achieve.
"It was the first time I was around that many people doing the same thing that I was. It was one thing to be talented around people in the Tri-Cities or Burbank ... and it was the first time that I actually acknowledged that I was good enough to be part of it," she said.
So Turner began planning. She went back to college, but only long enough to finish her current semester that spring.
In the months to follow she moved to Jefferson City, Tenn., with her fiance. It wasn't Nashville, but it was only 200 miles away. Still, Jefferson County would pose other challenges for the young woman who was seeking local opportunities to skyrocket her country music career.
"There is absolutely nothing there. It is a dry county ... Yeah. They still have dry counties. It was. I was right there and there is absolutely nothing there," Turner said.
Even more conflicting, Turner said her dream wasn't shared with her fiance, who wanted her to finish college, get a job and settle down. Instead of settling down, Turner said they broke up and she came home, where she is now a part-time bartender who sings country music at regional taverns and wineries.
"I have my moments where I question my decision. Maybe I shouldn't be doing this. I am broke. I work in a bar. And I am 25. But I can't think that way because I love what I do," she said.
Success has been close for Turner.
Last year, recording companies Sony and Big Machine took notice of her, but only enough to say they are interested and will be following her career. So far no deals have transpired.
"Honestly, it is a little to early in the game to jump at the first thing that comes my way ... For me right now, I will go as for as I can without getting signed," she said.
Right now, Turner's country music career usually involved performing covers by Sugarland or Miranda Lambert, but mostly she focuses on her 15 original songs, especially the four on her current CD.
"OK, so you can purchase that song on iTunes. Just saying," Turner likes to add after she performs one of her original works.
Songwriting, performing concerts and live plugs are only a small part of keeping the dream alive.
To follow Turner's career, watch her video, listen to her music and maybe buy a track or two, go kateturnermusic.com.