KNOXVILLE — Logan Murrell clicks a music track on her computer.
The voice coming from the computer speakers sounds as if it's coming from a singer in her 20s. It's confident and solid. The song, one of Murrell's first, sounds as if it was written by an experienced songwriter.
Looking at 15-year-old Murrell, it doesn't quite add up, but anyone who has seen her since she began performing professionally at age 8 knows that, as much as she tries to be an ordinary teenager, she is no ordinary teenage talent.
Murrell has already recorded an album produced by Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts. She has been a featured performer at several venues including the Old Smoky Hoedown and Country Tonite theaters in Pigeon Forge. She has also been offered several recording contracts. Murrell, though, isn't ready to live the life of a traveling entertainer. When an executive at Lyric Street Records asked her, "How'd you like the be the newest member of the Lyric Street Family?" a couple of years ago, she answered, "Well, it would be something to consider!"
Murrell and her mom, Julie, sit in the basement of the family's home in North Knox County. With her earnings from performances, the teen is slowly turning the room into a recording studio and music room.
"I love all the background stuff - producing, engineering," she says.
She's currently working on a CD of all-original songs and is performing all the instruments on each track.
"I'd like to make a name for myself (performing) and then maybe settle down at 25 and become a producer," she says.
Murrell started singing when she was 2 and began taking piano lessons at the age of 4, but switched to guitar "because it's easier to haul around than a piano." At age 8, she began performing professionally.
"A lot of people try to buy their kids into the business," says Julie Murrell. "We didn't want to buy her into something she couldn't sustain. We told her, 'If you want to make music you have to earn enough to pay for it,' and she really took that to heart."
She says it's tough to be manager and booking agent for her daughter, but the other option is turning it over to someone who would want the singer to work more often. As it is, the teen is in control of her musical destiny and has time to grow and make music at her own pace.
"Greed drives the industry," says the mother, "but human beings aren't products. And Logan's not a lottery ticket."
Logan Murrell began performing mostly bluegrass and traditional country. She says she once tried to emulate Dolly Parton, but a friend tactfully pointed out, "There's already a Dolly Parton."
More recently, friends and audience members mentioned that she reminded them of Eva Cassidy, prompting her to listen to Cassidy's music on the Internet. She fell in love with it.
"I didn't see where she was going to be performing next," she says. "And then I saw that she died the year I was born and I just bawled my eyes out."
Cassidy, who died of cancer in 1996, remains a big influence on the teen. But unlike Cassidy, who primarily interpreted other writers' music, Murrell is intent on writing her own songs.
In 2010, she met with an executive at Warner Bros. Records who said he would work with her even if she didn't write her own material, but he wanted to know who she really was. She responded by writing the song "True Love Waits."
"I mailed it to him and said, 'This is who I am.' "
Yet it's a continuing journey.
"I'm just trying to hone in on what's really me," she says. "The new stuff is more like everything music. I don't know what genre category it would be in. I guess it's just 'Logan Murrell' music."
© 2011, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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