Bremerton

Country singer and American Idol alum Britnee Kellogg performs at Bremerton’s Admiral Theater on Friday

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Attending a Johnny and June Carter Cash concert at the age of 6 changed country musician Britnee Kellogg’s life.

“I remember every single thing about it,” said Kellogg said. “I looked at my grandma and said, ‘That’s what I want to do.’”

And performing is exactly what she’s done ever since, first at talent shows, fairs and pageants — as she put it, “anything I could do to get on stage.”

Kellogg, who grew up in Vancouver, Wash., saw her career really take off after she appeared on seasons 11 and 12 of American Idol in 2012 and 2013. Kellogg had tried out four times before she made it through the first round of the music competition show.

“I swore after the third, I was like, I’m never trying out again,” she recalled. The initial audition process was like a cattle call, she said: Everyone would get about 10 to 15 seconds to sing, then they’d be informed whether or not they’d made it through to the next round. “There’s actually about five rounds before you get to the celebrity judges,” she said.

But Kellogg couldn’t help auditioning a fourth time when the auditions came close to home. “I was like, ‘OK, I have to do it, because I’m not paying to travel anywhere,’” she said.

She made it through the first round and went all the way through to Hollywood Week, and then to Las Vegas, where she was among the top 40 performers on the show. The first season she appeared on “was one of the most incredible experiences of my life,” she said.

 

“It was just like one of those experiences that is truly once-in-a-lifetime,” she said. “It was just wild. And I met so many amazing friends and people that were on the same path as me. And I learned a lot about myself and the music business.”

The next season she tried out again and made it back onto the show. “That season was the Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey debacle,” she said. “And it was definitely a little more one of those situations where I was like, OK, this is a little too much drama for me. But still, an incredible experience.” She made it to the top 40 that season as well, she said.

Kellogg’s story is one of perseverance — if she really had stopped after her third audition, she likely wouldn’t be where she is now.

“The whole thing with my music is that it would have been so easy for me so many times to just say, ‘OK, I’m a mom’ — I’m a single mom at that time — and so many people I think would go, ‘OK, I’m done. I’m just going to get a regular job. Clearly I’m not good enough, or what they’re looking for, or whatever.’ … And I think for me, I believe in what I have to say. I believe in my talent and I just keep going and being persistent.”

American Idol was not just an incredible opportunity to gain exposure. Appearing on the show and competing against other performers also pushed Kellogg to improve and hone her craft.

 

“American Idol as a starting point — it’s very humbling,” she said. “When you come from Vancouver, Wash., and you’re the best singer in your school, and then you go to American Idol and you’re like, ‘I am probably the worst singer here’ — it will humble you very fast, and also puts a fire under your belt where you’re like, ‘I need to get better.’”

That same fire followed her to Nashville, a city famous for its music scene.

“What I love to say is if you’re the best person in the room, if you’re the best singer or the best writer in the room, you’re in the wrong room,” she said. “You have to be with people and surround yourself with people, write with people, perform with people, that are better than you, because it will make you better and help you learn. And that’s truly what has made me grow.”

Kellogg said people are often surprised to hear that a country musician like her is from the Pacific Northwest.

“People say that I don’t sound like someone from Vancouver, Wash, even in my singing voice,” she said. “That’s such an easy response, because I grew up listening to Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Reba McEntire, Terri Clark — all of the ‘90s country, that’s what I grew up on, so that’s how I learned to sing.”

Kellogg’s performance at the Admiral Theater features her full band from Nashville and will comprise all original music, save for a couple covers, she said.

“We do a really cool, stripped-down acoustic part of our set with some of the songs that are a little bit more touching, or I really want people to hear the lyrics in these songs,” she said. “I want to be able to tell the stories. So it’s definitely a mix of high energy performance concert, but also the stripped-down storytelling pieces as well.”

Britnee Kellogg at the Admiral Theater

Britnee Kellogg performs at 8 pm, May 17 at the Admiral Theater, 515 Pacific Ave., Bremerton. Doors open at 6:30 pm. Tickets start at $19. Buy tickets here.

Steven Wyble

Steven Wyble is an award-winning journalist who has written for both daily and weekly newspapers.

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