HANTS COUNTY, N.S. — After watching others sing at a Nova Scotia country music festival nearly every year of her life, 11-year-old Xuan Trzebiatowski decided in 2018 that she was no longer satisfied just watching.
“I think a lot of the time people would see me and my brother playing around in the campground and I just thought people (would think) it was very sweet,” the Elmsdale, N.S., native said. “I was actually good at that kind of music so I decided to get up on stage.”
Now, just a year after taking the stage at the Fox Mountain Country Music Festival in Aylesford, N.S., for the first time, she’s headed a little farther afield.
Trzebiatowski is nominated for three awards at the Josie Music Awards, which are to be held in Tennessee in September: world artist, junior artist of the year and junior vocalist.
The nods at the awards show for independent artists of all genres come after a whirlwind year for the young artist. She’s spent that time teaching herself guitar and performing at 20 local country jams. And in March, the tween won her first award for female vocalist of the year from the North America Country Music Associations International.
But the Josies have a special significance for Trzebiatowski: they’re taking place at Dollywood, the theme park owned by one of her music idols.
In fact, she noted, the first time she took the stage, she sang one of Dolly Parton’s songs: “Silver and Gold” off of the 1991 album “Eagle When She Flies.”
“I feel like Dolly has a different style from the other artists when she sings,” Trzebiatowski said. “But I do enjoy all kinds of country music, I just really like Dolly’s way of country music.”
Trzebiatowski first started listening to country music with her parents, who say they’re happy to see their daughter chasing her passion.
And as she racks up experience singing on stage, Trzebiatowski is also starting to learn how to write her own songs.
“I’m just sticking to doing covers but sometimes I just jot down a little sentence,” she said. “I met some song writers and I’ve asked them, ‘how do you write a good song?’ and they say just jot little sentences down and in the future you’ll think ‘Oh I can write something out of this’ so I listened to that.”
Trzebiatowski and her parents are hosting a fundraiser on July 28 at the Nine Mile River Community Centre in East Hants, N.S., to raise money for her trip to the awards ceremony in September.
And when she gets to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., she’s holding out hope that she’ll run into Parton.
“I would be, like, really excited and I’d be jumping around and squealing,” Trzebiatowski said. “I would also ask her if she would like to write a song with me.”
Olivia Blackmore, The Canadian Press