Katie Smith is becoming a familiar face on the Tri-City music scene.
The singer-songwriter takes the stage with a guitar, playing a mix of covers and original music.
She’s got talent. She’s got poise. And she’s only 16.
“She holds herself very well. She’s natural and has a beautiful voice,” said Dara Quinn, co-owner of Emerald of Siam in Richland. “I think that she has an innate ability that will take her places.”
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It’s taking her to Quinn’s restaurant and music venue on May 16.
The show starts at 5 p.m. and there’s no cover.
Smith, a junior at Hanford High School in Richland, taught herself to play guitar. Her first gig was a couple of years back — she was asked to perform outside a Richland Starbucks during the coffee shop’s rush hour.
“They drew a chalk stage on the sidewalk and I sang,” she said.
She’s gone on to perform on more permanent stages, catching the attention of the late Tri-City music luminary Tom Gnoza, who died unexpectedly earlier this year.
“He’s the one who recommended her to me,” Quinn said. “She is one of the promising talents (he helped shepherd).”
Smith doesn’t get jitters before she performs, at least not during her singer-songwriter gigs.
She does get butterflies performing the national anthem at school in front of her peers. But she doesn’t let that stop her.
Brandee Osborn, Smith’s mother, remembers watching her daughter sing in front of a crowd of hundreds at a church program when she was about 5 years old.
“She had no fear. She just went up there and sang. She just loved it,” Osborn said.
These days, Smith’s repertoire is eclectic. She covers everything from Ed Sheeran to Death Cab for Cutie. She loves One Direction, but also busts out Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel.
The teen also is busy writing her own songs and hopes to put together a recording.
It’s special when her music touches people, she said. Once, an older man came up to her after an open mic set with tears in his eyes.
“He said, ‘You remind me of my daughter. She would have loved to watch you sing,’ ” Smith recalled.
She doesn’t perform for the praise, but for the love of singing and playing guitar, she said.
While she still has another year of high school, she’s thinking about what comes next. She hopes to one day make a go of music professionally.
“That’s my dream,” she said. “My No. 1 dream — to go on tour and sing and do what I love to do.”
The Emerald of Siam is at 1314 Jadwin Ave.