Growing up in rural Jefferson County, Brittany Clarke never wanted to leave the farm.
She loved the smell of fresh cut hay, riding four-wheelers through a mud hole and all four-legged creatures. Getting stuck behind a massive tractor creeping down the road never bothered her much. It was part of growing up in rural America.
“I always told my family I would live in the field across from my house,” Clarke said. “I’m a country girl. I hate the city.”
A graduate of Webber Township High School, Clarke loves to sing. She successfully competed in many vocal competitions as a child. Instead of a waning interest as she hit her teens, her passion to be on stage only grew.
When her prep career was over, she packed her bags and moved to Nashville, determined to be a famous entertainer. She has diligently pursued her dream, making contacts in the industry, working as a model and actress on the side.
Recently, a Facebook friend told her about a video shoot for a hot new country act. She sent in a few pictures, auditioned for the job and was hired. She plays a major role in the new music video “Runnin’ Out of Air” by duo Love and Theft.
“Filming the video took 14 hours. It was a pretty long day, but it was a lot of fun and I learned a lot,” Clarke said. “Watching how the producer worked with the artists was the most interesting part. Everybody was laughing and having a good time on the set, but after the editing process, the final product looked pretty serious. It was a great experience for me.”
The 23-year-old Clarke was definitely a country singer as a teenager. She covered all the latest hits and classics. How-ever, during marathon four-hour shows, she was forced to rock things up a little to make everyone happy.
Spending the last several years trying to navigate the turbulent waters of Music City, she has discovered her true passion may be drifting away from a Martina McBride style and more toward Katy Perry.
Clarke was contacted by a New York company earlier this year that is highly interested in her ability to cross over into the pop market. They flew her and her mother, Sandy, into the Big Apple and she passed a stringent audition with flying colors.
“Although I’m in my 20s, I still feel like I’m trapped in a 15-year-old body. They love my enthusiasm,” she said. “It all started with a random conversation on social media. I was a little skeptical at first, but I could tell pretty quickly it was the real deal. This is a golden opportunity. The guys I’m working for believe in me. They have given me everything they promised.”
For the past week, the petite blonde has been in New York City working with the company, recording in a major studio and displaying her writing talent. Last night, she performed at an open mic night at a small club in Pennsylvania.
“My music career is definitely in full throttle right now. Getting picked up by the New York company is the biggest opportunity I’ve ever had, “Clarke said. “It takes a long time in this business to find the right person to get interested in you. They love my music and personality.”
While shifting in a new direction, Clarke said there are no plans to eliminate the music that originally led her to Nash-ville.
“I’ve always had a huge passion for pop music. Crossing over to the pop side is a 180 degree turn for me,” she said. “Don’t worry; I’m not totally abandoning my country roots. This new music could be classified as pop country.”
Riding the fence between genres has been popularized by Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Sheryl Crow and taken into the stratosphere by Taylor Swift.
Clarke said she loves the freedom of expression offered by songwriting.
“I try to write mainly about life experiences,” she said. “Sometimes a wild idea will hit me and I’ll write a song that is completely fiction. Getting to put a crazy emotion on paper that I’ve never experienced is awesome.”
Clarke will spend three weeks in January in New York recording original material. It will be posted for digital download online for a website that is currently under construction.
“Things are starting to happen. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but I hope to make Southern Illinois proud,” the feisty Clarke stated, with exuberance. “I haven’t given up on my goals.”
Although she will always be “Brit” to her friends, Clarke said there is a possibility she will assume a yet-to-be-determined stage name.
VINCE HOFFARD can be reached at 618-658-9095 or email@example.com.