Fresh face, great voice, Jurupa's own: The star of Elizabeth Huett is on the rise.
In Huett's first-ever time on stage – in a talent show at Pedley Elementary – she sang Ariel's song from the Little Mermaid.
Today, the 29-year-old songwriter, who splits her time between Nashville and Jurupa Valley, is cutting her first album with Interscope Records. Elizabeth, a former backup singer for Taylor Swift, is now creating her own set of songs.
"Everything we talked about when she was growing up is coming full circle and becoming a reality," said Liz's mother, Katherine Huett.
The road to success has been rough but rewarding.
Liz Huett sang as soon as she could talk, Mrs. Huett said, and was soon enrolled in vocal, dancing and performing arts classes. Over the years she landed various roles in movies and commercials. But there were also setbacks and disappointments. When Liz was 12 or so, she auditioned for Hannah Montana – and was told her voice had too much "twang." Crestfallen at the time, Liz said, "That's just how I sing."
Today, Elizabeth embraces her unique style, which Mrs. Huett described as country at heart but with an edgy, earthy sound like Sheryl Crow. Gone is the desire to fit any sort of mold.
Her songs, like her life, depict a journey. After graduating from Jurupa Valley High a decade ago, Liz took work at a pizza parlor and enrolled at RCC. She also landed a spot on the TV show "Dance Wars," where she was discovered by agent Craig Dunn.
So she packed and headed to Nashville – with support from Jurupa Unified teachers and staff, who helped Liz emotionally and financially through the move. Elizabeth has a list of 37 names, including office and cafeteria staff as well as faculty, of JUSD "family" whose kindness she hopes to repay, Mrs. Huett said.
Once in Nashville, Liz took several jobs as a backup vocalist – including a gig with Swift for nearly four years. Elizabeth learned dedication, commitment and professionalism from the pop star, Mrs. Huett said. "She (Taylor) knew what she wanted in her career and took charge. Taylor was never manipulated by people."
When Liz set out on her own, she, like Taylor, knew what she wanted. Elizabeth struggled for more than two years writing her own style of music. Her work includes tributes to each of her parents and a lost cousin, a tale of broken engagement, and a tune crooned by country star Sara Evans ("Put My Heart Down").
Elizabeth's first album will consist of original songs she has written. The first singles will drop this fall or early next year, her mom said.
Asked for her own take on the biggest factor in her success, Liz responded via Twitter, "persistence! ❤"
Mrs. Huett agreed. "Things have slowly but surely progressed" for the girl who enjoys hiking, family time, motorcycles and horse riding. "She is such an outgoing, vivacious person; I always delighted in watching her and being a part of her journey. I'm excited to see where the rest of the story goes."
So, indeed, are the rest of us.
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