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Former Manteca resident returns home for concerts
Nashville recording artist Katie Byrd returns to the Central Valley. The former Manteca and Ripon resident will play a benefit concert at Ripon Christian High School on Friday and then take the stage for Rookies Hot Country Night on Saturday. - photo by Photo Contributed

• WHAT: Nashville recording artist Katie Byrd will play songs from her self-titled album, as well as cover hits from Wynonna Judd and Skid Row.
• WHEN: Saturday, beginning at 8 p.m. Free line-dancing lesson with Pat Mitchell at 7.
• WHERE: Rookies Pub and Grill.
• COVER: Free. Adults, 21 and over, allowed.
• FOLLOW: Web:; Facebook:; Twitter: (at)KatieByrdMusic

Katie Byrd arrived in Nashville knowing the cross-country move was a Hail Mary.

The songstress began dazzling crowds as a child in Missouri, where’d she win multiple talent shows and awards. The former Manteca and Ripon resident even flirted with a career in the country music capital of the world.

But she was young – and without many contacts or much of a plan.

Byrd returned to Nashville in March of 2012 a stronger, more determined soul with a support team that included cousin and Grammy Award-winning singer/song writer Michael McDonald.

Thirteen months and one album later, Byrd is flying higher than she ever has.

“It was one of those situations. I had to really give it my all; give it my best shot,” said the blonde beauty whose self-titled album “Katie Byrd” is available on iTunes.

“It’s my second time in Nashville. The first go-around I didn’t have any contacts or any direction. Now that I’ve been there and done that, I feel like I’m a lot farther along musically.”

The next stage in her career takeoff is a familiar one. Byrd returns to the Central Valley on Monday to begin preparation for a weekend gig at Rookies Pub and Grill.

Byrd will play a private benefit concert at Ripon Christian High School on Friday and then headline Rookies’ “Hot Country Nights” on Saturday.

“She reminds me a little bit of Faith Hill. She has a good sounds and great vocals,” said Rookies Entertainment Director Chris Creek, also the front man for the Chris Creek Band. “We’re looking forward to having her out here. She’s been to Nashville, so it’s nice to have someone like that who’s been in the area come back.”

Her set begins at 8 p.m. Byrd will play tracks off her eight-song album, as well as cover hits from Wynonna Judd and Skid Row among others.

Line dance instructor Pat Mitchell will warm up the crowd with a free lesson for all ages, children and adults alike, at 7 p.m.

“We have such a huge fan base in Northern California,” Byrd said from her Franklin, Tenn., home. “Just the support on Facebook and people have been purchasing the album on iTunes. It’s cool to be back where there is a lot of support. I’m stoked about it.”

The Central Valley is Byrd’s adopted hometown. She was born and raised in Southern Missouri, where she was named the grand champion of the American Kids Nationals and the Ed McMahon Talent Search. She relocated to Northern California after meeting her husband Jeremy Byrd after her washing out of Nashville in 2003.

Jeremy Byrd is from Escalon and served as Ripon Christian’s first-ever varsity football coach.

The two realized that if Katie were to make it as a country music artist she’d need to be immersed in the culture and industry.

So they packed their bags – and their Bluetick Coonhound “Gator – and headed east.

“I knew my wife had talent and that good things could happen. The funny thing is how it all happened,” he said. “Once you get out here and get into it, it’s just a matter of time before something good happens.

“When I got here, I didn’t really know what to expect. Then it was like  BOOM!”

Byrd’s album was virtually self-produced with the help of JK Worldwide, an indie label. She lists her musical influences as Bonnie Raitt, Martina McBride and Wynonna Judd – three big voices who managed to blend styles and genres. McBride has crossover appeal, bridging the gap between pop and country music, while Raitt melded rock, blues and country sounds.

Byrd believes she’s as versatile as her icons.

“This album is an eclectic mix of a whole bunch of different influences. There isn’t a genre I could pigeon-hole the album into,” she said. “There is a rock influence, a blues influence and of course country.

“It encompasses who I am as an artist, which is unique in itself. I think I have a unique voice. My voice is unlike anything you hear on country radio right now, which I hope would be refreshing to people.”