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Local rising songstress prepares debut EP, has opened for Sister Hazel

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Posted: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 10:24 pm | Updated: 10:31 pm, Wed Nov 2, 2011.

Inspiration is the name of the game when it comes to Camryn Wessner's music.

The 19-year-old local recording artist is preparing the release of her new EP, "Temporary," this December.

The Dothan, Ala., native said she draws influences from the music of her childhood, naming performers like John Cougar Mellencamp and Alison Krauss as some of her guides. As far as her own music is concerned, Wessner said she hopes she uplifts and inspires listeners of all types.

"When you have something that you're so passionate about that you can live for every day, it makes life a lot more purposeful and meaningful to you and the way you live it," she said. "I would hope that I wouldn't just inspire musicians or artists, but that my music can help people be inspired to do what they really wanna do with their lives."

Learning to Fly Solo

Vocalist for the band Victory Blvd while in high school, Wessner said her time in the group helped her "learn to perform."

"I think I just decided that it was nice to be responsible for myself as a musician. It helps me kinda grow when I can think and write on my own kind of terms," Wessner said. "But being in a band was definitely a really good experience. It helped me have a growing stage performance so I'm not just sitting up there singing."

Influences and Icons

Wessner has had help from some notable musical forces, from respected producers Stan Lynch, a founding member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Billy Chapin, who has worked with the Backstreet Boys and O-Town, to Gainesville's own Sister Hazel. Wessner even opened for Ken Block and Drew Copeland of Sister Hazel on Oct. 22 at Florida Gateway College in Lake City.

At the concert, she received some advice from one of her many musical inspirations.

"Ken, before he left, he pulled me aside and he was like, ‘Writers don't talk about writing, they write. Singers don't talk about singing, they practice what they do. Keep doing what you're doing. Just don't forget to not stop,'" Wessner said.

She also said Lynch and Chapin were the reason for the comfortable recording environment that captured what Wessner calls her easy-listening style of music. Lynch even co-wrote the title track, complementing Wessner's words and melody with music.

"Since they've been in the industry and have been experienced for so long, I think it's just easy for them to make people feel comfortable so that they can perform the best," she said. "I think that's why they're so good at it. They bring out the best in me. They make me feel really comfortable with my abilities and collaborating."

Whatever Comes Her Way

As she prepares for the album's release, Wessner said she plans on continuing to play shows and eventually embarking on a tour, taking on whatever comes her way.

"As far as being signed to a record label nowadays, you really kinda have to have it all together beforehand," she said. "So we're trying to get a CD and a music video done, so that come 2012, that's gonna hopefully be the year that I really start to promote myself."

Recorded during the summer out of St. Augustine, the "Temporary" EP features six tracks, the title track, debut single "Polaroid" and a bonus track. All of the songs are streaming on Facebook, but hard copies will hit shelves Dec. 13.

As for her favorite track, Wessner said the EP's namesake is the one that brought to surface a particular message not only for listeners but for the singer-songwriter herself.

"If you can't accept that most everything you come across is temporary, then you're gonna have a hard time dealing with things," she said. "That's what this album really brought to surface for me. A lot of my life I didn't want to change and let go, but it's good to be able to adapt to your surroundings because everything's pretty temporary."

For more information on Wessner, the "Temporary" EP and upcoming gigs, including one at Double Down Live at 210 SW Second Ave. on Nov. 13, check out her official website camrynwessner.com or her Facebook page.

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