When songstress Ann Marie was 13, she landed her first professional job. And it was an epic one.
She recorded the song "Part of Your World" for the European release of Disney's "The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea."
Now at 27, the county music songbird has enhanced her resume by sharing the stage with several big names including Darius Rucker, Adele, Dierks Bentley and Kenny G.
Marie's next accomplishment will come on Friday, when she sings the national anthem to kick off the NASCAR K&N Pro Series "Drive Sober 150" at Dover International Speedway.
The Dover Post caught up with Marie, based in Nashville, Tenn., to discuss her new single, "Cowboy Up," her love for NASCAR and more.
Q As a NASCAR fan, what do you find interesting about it?
A For me, it's way more compelling to watch it in person. It's weird, when you watch it on TV, it can be dull. But when I saw it live is when I really appreciated it. I was fortunate to sing at a NASCAR event over a year ago with Dierks Bentley. I got to stay in the pit and see everything happen. I got to see them put the tires on. It's amazing to see what goes into it. Like with music, l think people see that performance that goes on, but they don't necessarily see all the things that go into it like the stage crew and lights.
Q Have you ever sung the national anthem at a NASCAR event?
A This is my first NASCAR national anthem. I think I've sung a total of 400 national anthems. But this is my first for NASCAR, so it'll be fun.
Q But this won't be your first time performing for a NASCAR audience. What was the crowd's reaction when you performed with Dierks Bentley?
A It was incredible. The concert kind of helped pump up people before the race. We had people yelling before songs. It was a blast.
Q What inspired your new single, "Cowboy Up?"
A It was inspired by a bumper sticker that was on the back of my uncle's truck. He was a team roper and third generation farmer. That bumper sticker really stood out, and I thought it could be a really cool song. It's about a girl in search of that chivalrous man in 2013. I'm searching for the all-American John Wayne kind of guy, someone who has those qualities. It's about telling a guy if you want to be with me, you have to treat me right.
Page 2 of 3 - Q When is the EP slated to drop?
A It's going to drop in a couple weeks. I'm looking at mid-October. The EP is called "Caged Bird?"
Q Why did you name it "Caged Bird"?
A It's inspired by the book Maya Angelou wrote called, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." It's something everyone can relate to. It's about going through adversity in life. The caged bird sings in the cage because it can't fly, so it uses its voice instead. For me, even if I get to the point where I'm not able to walk or do some things, nobody will ever be able to take away my voice.
Q How did you get into singing?
A My mom said before I started talking in the crib, it was almost like I was singing because I was always making noises like I was singing. I was a vocal baby.
Q What's something you didn't know about the music industry when you first started your career?
A I think when I moved from California to Nashville, I said "I'm going to take over this town." But then it was like, "No. I'm probably not." You have to pay your dues. I think for me it's been a struggle because I've had some big things happen to me, then nothing. Big, then nothing. Big, then nothing. But if you look at Katy Perry, she's been doing it since she was about 13. So I don't think there's such a thing as an overnight success.
Q What's the most valuable piece of advice a music star has given you?
A When I was like 18, I got to sing with Kenny G. At that point, I was like, "It's so tough [to make it in music]." He was like, "Kid, you're out there complaining. You have no idea how many times I was ready to give up, and how many times I did give up." I was like, "wow." Someone like him who's a multimillionaire and could do whatever he wants ─ he wanted to give up several times? It was just so great hearing someone with success say it.
Q Since you're competing with a number of other singer-songwriters who also live in Nashville and dream of making it big, what do you feel distinguishes you from the rest?
A I think I'm being true to myself, and I'm not paying attention to what other people are doing.
Page 3 of 3 - IF YOU GO
WHAT Ann Marie sings national anthem for Drive Sober 150
WHEN 4:45 p.m., Friday
WHERE Dover International Speedway, 1131 N. Dupont Highway, Dover
COST Tickets for the race cost $28
INFO doverspeedway.com or call (800) 441-RACE