As I walk into the local Starbucks, I scan the room for a tall young songwriter. I had the pleasure of listening to Katy McKenzie at the grand opening of an Old Town Helotes business.
My eyes rest in the corner, there sipping her Starbucks with ease and confidence sat Katy. I remember her voice sounding much like Tswift when she performed a cover song. She shakes my hand with a strong grip. The same grip she seems to possess over the local music industry.
Castroville native and graduate, Katy McKenzie, recently performed at the Lights Festival San Antonio held at Cycle Ranch in Floresville. McKenzie impressed organizers with her voice and talent; she was offered the opportunity to perform with the organization in Houston and Dallas.
McKenzie grew up with music, musical talent, and inspiration. Her grandfather played by ear. Her mother’s side of the family consisted of many singers.
Katy considers Taylor Swift and Kacey Musgraves as mentors and role models for singing and song writing.
Although Katy grew up in a musical family, it was not until 2013 she decided to strike out on her own. “I was always shy,” added McKenzie. “It took a long time for me to get out of the bedroom and sing in front of people.” Accomplishing her fears she did in style. When performing at the Light Festival San Antonio the crowd numbered over 8,000.
Listening to Katy perform recently, one becomes enthralled with the performance. Her voice lures you into the music and she keeps her performances much like George Straight, low key and focused on the music.
McKenzie, like many up and coming musical artists, took a break from school after graduation from high school. “I wanted to live for a while,” said McKenzie. “Living” allows musicians to become familiar with struggles in life, lost love, anger, frustration, success—all the ingredients needed to pen a number one hit record.
This period of “living” allowed McKenzie the chance to pen her title track Freedom. “Freedom is a song about doing your own thing,” shared McKenzie. Freedom is the name of her recent debut album.
Katy writes music in different locations. She has penned melodies in her room, traveling down the road—many times recording the words and notes on her phone. She refuses to label her music. “I believe I have a unique style and its wrong to label good music,” added McKenzie. “However, if you have to have a label, I would say I am more country than any other genre.”
McKenzie also auditioned for the Voice, but was not one of those selected. “I enjoyed the process. I learned what it was like to audition for an important gig. It will help me as I travel to Nashville and attempt to find my place in the music industry.”
Having the opportunity to listen to Katy in a couple of concerts, I believe she is strongest when she sings her original music. She commands the stage and the room. Although I do enjoy her covers of Taylor Swift. If you blindfolded the audience I am not sure they could tell Tswift and Katy apart.
McKenzie practices at least 2 to 3 times a week when she is not performing in local venues. The month of September and October were very busy months for the local singer as every weekend and many weekdays she took the stage to share her music with audiences.
“My parents have been very supportive,” said McKenzie. “They have helped me with travels, and recording music. My mom has been so supportive. She has made sure that I get to do what I need to do for my music. Tina Castile has been a great promoter.”
For those just starting in the industry, Katy offers the following advice. “First practice. Then every time you have the opportunity to appear on the stage do it. Do not be afraid to go to open mic nights. You must get in front of people.”
Katy is a regular performer at Two Step restaurant where she performs solo or with her band. She has also performed the Rim. To locate her next concert log onto Facebook and search Katy McKenzie—it will be worth your time and trip.