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Young songwriter getting an early start on road to Nashville

Carson Hill, singing, performs last month at Charlotte’s Eaglespeak Coffeehouse on South Boulevard.
Carson Hill, singing, performs last month at Charlotte’s Eaglespeak Coffeehouse on South Boulevard. LAUREN BAILEY

Young singer and songwriter Carson Hill soon could be making her mark on country music.

Hill, 17, who lives in Ansonville with her family, has been writing songs since she picked up a guitar at age 11 – and she has the voice to back up her talent with the pen.

Hill started performing at festivals, schools and restaurants right away, and now has her sights set on a loftier goal: Nashville.

“I want to have success, and it would be awesome to be as famous as Taylor Swift, but really, I’d just like to make it to the point where I could make a living writing and playing,” Hill said.

In mid-March, Hill performed for a packed house at Charlotte’s Eaglespeak Coffeehouse on South Boulevard, where she debuted new songs and played guitar, mandolin and banjo.

In a new song, “False Hope,” she sings: “Long sleepless nights, waking up to loneliness, maybe I should just let you go / You love me until you don’t, and I’m so tired of all this false hope.”

Other songs, like “You’re Beautiful,” speak to girls who worry about their image, reminding them that “beauty comes from under the skin.”

Given her age, her emotional handle on complex subjects surprises many who have met her, especially since, by her own admission, she has never had a boyfriend. Being home-schooled and traveling to play has kept her from the typical high school scene.

“After I first played ‘Gone’ for my mom, she asked me if I had some secret long-distance relationship she didn’t know about,” Hill told the Eaglespeak crowd after playing the song, which deals with long-distance heartache.

Hill said her musical inspirations include Willie Nelson, John Mayer, Stevie Nicks, Hayley Williams and Grace Potter. One of Hill’s newest songs, “The Best Heartbreak,” which she accompanied on the banjo, has a distinctly bluesy feel that Hill said was influenced by Potter’s work.

Much of Hill’s work can be heard on Spotify, iTunes or her website: www.carsonhillmusic.com.

Hill’s website also lists upcoming shows, including a performance at The Double Door Inn on June 6 in Charlotte, which she said she is very excited about; but so far, she said, nothing has compared to her impromptu performance at an Irish Pub while visiting Dublin, Ireland, a year-and-a-half ago.

“It was just such an amazing experience, and one I’ll never forget,” said Hill. “There was a guy performing, and when he took a break, we asked if I could play, and he agreed.”

This summer, the farthest she will travel probably is to the East Coast. “I’ll be playing at the beach most of the summer, for tips,” said Hill, who is focused on her goal of arriving in Nashville next year.

When asked how she feels about leaving home, Hill said she is nervous but excited.

Her song “I Don’t Know,” which expresses the anxiety and confusion many teenagers face when thinking of their future, sums up her feelings: She isn’t sure where her singing, songwriting and playing will take her but hopes it will be a lifelong career.

With a fetching smile, the ability to laugh at herself and a humble confidence to accompany her undeniable talent, she might have a shot.

Lauren Bailey is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Lauren? Email her at lbailey.charlotteobserver@gmail.com.

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