Karen Lee Batten has been resting her voice.
The award-winning country singer had been performing at the Cloverdale Rodeo in the Fraser Valley and the schedule was busy.
"It was awesome. I was the anthem singer for the weekend. Five sets of anthems and after each one they'd put me in the back of a pick-up truck and drive me into the middle of the arena and then I'd sing a couple more songs," Batten says.
The British Columbia Country Music Association also took over a building at the rodeo and featured their performers there on two stages.
This kept Batten busy, too. She had another show there and was MC the entire weekend.
"They had about 50 bands. There were artists who hadn't had a lot of exposure yet and headline acts. It was really cool, really good music," she says.
She thinks she sounds raspy, but the untrained ear (mine) can't tell.
Batten is a Fraser Valley local, originally from Abbotsford, and got her start as a runner up in the first season of Canadian Idol in 2003.
She has won the British Columbia Country Music Association Award for Female Vocalist of the Year four times, and in 2014 was named Country Music Entertainer of the Year at the Texas Sounds International Country Music Awards.
Batten has released two albums and was on Canadian Idol's Greatest Moments, which came out in 2004.
Her most recent album, Cause a Scene, was released in 2014.
She performs both originals and popular country covers.
What was fascinating about the Texas competition, Batten says, is that country artists took part from all over the world, including Australia, Sweden, Spain, South Africa and Switzerland.
"It was almost a one-month award show. They designated a few days here and there to whoever is in town. It was entirely international and they had 15 to 20 bands," she says.
"They all sang in English and everyone had their showcase with the same judges."
The award gives Batten greater exposure in the U.S. — the centre of the country music world.
"As an independent artist you have to be creative and lots of times, when acts are signed with labels, there can be a huge team that makes all the decision making. For me, being independent is a joy for me, to have the team that I like," she says.
"I think that one of the things about this industry is that it doesn't matter how good you are if you aren't seen... as soon as you get out there people root for you, they really do."
Batten is performing at the first-ever Chili Con Carnival at the Longhorn Saloon on Saturday, May 30, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10, with doors opening at 7 p.m. The following day, Sunday, May 31, a $20 ticket gets six chili samples made by competing chefs from 1 p.m. onwards. Two bands, Dakota Pearl of Pemberton, and Whistler's Neverland Nights will perform all afternoon. The "Chili King" will be crowned at 6 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased at The Longhorn or online at www.ticketzone.com/chiliconcarnival.
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