It wasn’t long before singing opportunities began pouring in for the little red headed girl from Oklahoma. “I pretty much started getting asked to sing everywhere. I opened up for a few different people like Billy Dean and Barbara Mandrell. Exile, they used to be really big, I opened up for them on their farewell tour. I opened up for people like LeAnn Rimes, Rascal Flatts when they first started out.”
When Kata was five years old she became the youngest contestant to win Star Search. “That was a big deal," she laughs, “With Ed McMahon and Britney Spears! I’ve been singing ever since. I’ve won a lot of stuff, but that’s probably the biggest thing I ever did. The song I won with was Mel McDaniel’s ‘Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On.’ Right before I went on Star Search, Mel was in concert in a little town in Oklahoma on Halloween night. We went over there just to see if we told his people that I was gonna be on Star Search and sing his song, if I could meet him. I was a big fan. He actually ended out calling me up on stage and having me sing, ‘Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On.’ He was really cool.”
“When I was about ten, on a whim, I entered a yodeling contest. I’d never yodeled, so I didn’t really exactly know what it was, but they needed a couple more contestants to actually have the contest. I ended up winning that and then I really got into western music. I did that up until I was about 16 or 17.”
When Kata was eighteen, she moved from the little Indian town of Skiatook, 20 miles north of Tulsa, to perform at a theater in Pigeon Forge. “I’m always going to be an Oklahoma girl, but I’m definitely more at home in Tennessee. I guess coz there’s more music. In Skiatook, I was about the only girl for like an hour away that played music and everybody thought I was a little weird. I’m always gonna be weird, but at least I’m feeling a little bit better here.”
While she felt at home in Tennessee , for Kata, her experience with the theater almost crushed her creatively. “When I was at the theater, at the time, I really wanted to move back to Oklahoma and I really didn’t see myself, at least professionally, playing music again. It was like a soap opera and just drained me musically. I was still writing. I just didn’t have a desire to get out in front of people anymore.” It was the stand up bassist for the theater’s house band, Robbie Helton, who convinced Kata to continue her performing career. “He told me that was just crazy, that I was writing all this music and I should be playing it. That it was what I needed to do and what I was meant to do. I really feel like, if it wasn’t for him, that I wouldn’t have started playing again.”
She and Robbie left the theater around the same time. In 2006, Kata started a band, which she dubbed Kata and the Blaze, with Robbie, and drummer, Jason Roller. They are currently looking for a fourth member. In addition to being band mates, Robbie and Kata are also newlyweds. They got married in a beachside ceremony in 2007.
“I love music.” She says, “When it’s real, it’s real, it doesn’t matter what kind of music it is. I’m working on getting with an indie label. I’d actually like to go more that route than a major label to start with. With our music, we do a little bit of everything and I really don’t want to lose that. I like the fact that, if I want to write down a semi-rock song, then I want to write a country song and I want to put them on the CD together, I can.”
Kata and the Blaze released an independent CD, produced by Kata, on August 27 of 2007. “I actually sold my 4 horses to pay for it!” she says. “It’s doing pretty good, we’re getting a lot of radio airplay. I’m big time into writing and so is Robbie. We write all of the music, the whole CD is original. I would love to be able to write for other people too, on top of what I write for the band. I try to be myself. I’m really not trying to be anything else. I don’t know if my being myself is always best thing or the most popular thing. Whoever listens to my CD needs to know that all the songs are true.” The band released a brand new EP in October 2008.
You can catch her and the boys of the Blaze performing at Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede with Biscuit Davis.