Leah Burkey, who turns 13 Saturday, attends Central York Middle School and aspires to be a country star.
Leah Burkey, who turns 13 Saturday, attends Central York Middle School and aspires to be a country star. (SUBMITTED)
Band: Leah Burkey, 12

When did you get into music? I was about 8 years old, and we went to the . . . Wal-Mart (in Springettsbury Township) to meet Taylor Swift when she was promoting her first CD. She signed her CD. It was . . . like a meet-and-greet kind of thing. I just knew I wanted to sing ever since we walked out of the Wal-Mart.

What other artists inspired you? Probably Michelle Branch, LeAnn Rimes (and) Reba McEntire

Did you sign up for music lessons? I did voice lessons pretty much almost immediately after we met (Swift). So, I just started liking country more than anything. My first show was actually a recital for my voice coach. My first public gig . . . was (for the) Christian Women's Club of York.

What was your favorite place to play? Definitely the (2009) York Fair. We saw some interesting things there. Most recently, I guess was (performing) for Linda Davis at The Listening Room in Nashville. (I) went (to Nashville) in June for CMA (Music Festival).

Did you see any cool performances in Nashville? A girl named Jordyn Shellhart. She is definitely up-and-coming. She's really awesome.

What was the York Fair like? The whole (stage) was brand new last year and after me was a hypnotist. So, really during the last part of my set was when people started coming in. I (was) there the same time (this) year.

When did you start writing music? I never really wrote songs until, like, a month ago. The guy who gave me my song "Unbreakable," which is on my CD . . . said, "Well, I know you don't really know how to write, but I'd like to teach you." So, we actually sat down and wrote a song together and I'm hoping to record it soon. It's called "I'll See You in the Sky." It's about my great-grandfather. He passed away over Christmas time last year. It was, like, the first major death that I could really remember and that really affected me.

Where have you performed recently? (Last month) I performed at the Dallastown Carnival. They're going to have me again next year as a main act. (I also performed at) Old Tyme Days in Dover. I did the Colgate Country Showdown (at the South Mountain Fairgrounds in Biglerville) and I came in second, runner-up.

Are competitions nerve-wracking? Usually, I just try to block everything out. Usually, competitions are hard because really what you're doing is just singing to the other competitors' families. That's kind of a really hard crowd.

What is your take on the York music scene? Last year, I did 34 live events, so I'd definitely like to do more than that this year. One of my ultimate goals (is to) perform more in Nashville. In the future, I'd like to see myself as big as Taylor Swift. Every artist out there would. I (want) to record a lot more to try to get my music out there.

Is it hard to balance your music with your schoolwork? Some people in school focus on their social lives and things like that. Mostly, (I focus) just on my schoolwork and keeping my grades up. If you don't have good grades, then people in Nashville (won't) think I'm focused.

- ERIN McCRACKEN, FLIPSIDE STAFF

If you go

Leah Burkey will perform from 1 to 2 p.m. Oct. 3 at the Women's Show at the York Expo Center, 334 Carlisle Ave. in West Manchester Township. Admission to the women's show is $4. For details, visit www.wycr-fm.com/sqvws/sqvws.html.

On the Web

For details about Leah Burkey at www.myspace.com/leahburkey.

Listen to the interview at www.flipsidepa.com.

Read more meet-the-artist interviews at www.flipsidepa.com/musicdirectory.

More about Leah Burkey

Favorite color: Orange

Nickname: Turtle

Favorite movie: "Eagle Eye"

Favorite actor: Shia LeBeouf

Favorite actress: Miranda Cosgrove