Karaoke leads to music career for Kate Leary 

Kate Leary doesn't have to strain her voice to produce a beautiful sound " the simplicity of her singing is unique enough to stand on its own.

As a 22-year-old college graduate, she never really considered pursuing a music career, but with a voice like hers, she'd be crazy not to.

Leary will unveil her debut album, "Can't Stop Dreaming," at a 7 p.m. Thursday release party at Othello's, 434 Buchanan in Norman.

She is at her most unrestrained on the album closer, "Right Here," a soaring tune that fearlessly finds high notes and raw, emotional lyrics. Like most of her songs, the track is honest, simple and relatable. Her music is a cross-path of country, pop and acoustic rock, with songs that she wrote herself under the guidance of Charlie Rayl. She started working with Rayl, a well-known Norman music mainstay, last August.

"Music has been a part of me I think since day one," Leary said. "This is something I could put all of the time in the world into, and may not get the result that I want, but it's a risk I'm willing to take."

But she isn't one to wait for something to happen. She's proactive with her passions and admits being scared about straying from the typical post-college path. Inspired by her grandmother, Leary studied abroad, where she learned how much music meant to her. While singing karaoke one night, a stranger approached her and asked if she would fill in at a local music set one night. The pair became friends and ended up performing together. Leary said the trip was the most rewarding experience in her life thus far.

"It was the first time I really kind of saw the fruit of my labor," she said.

When she arrived back in Oklahoma, that sense of motivation followed her, and her life took a sharp turn toward music. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma earlier this year and picked up a serving job at Norman's Blu Fine Wine & Food, while dedicating the rest of her time to writing and recording music.

El Reno singer/songwriter Katie Mariah and Oklahoma City folk singer Ashley Windham will open for Leary on Thursday. "Paige Lawler

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Paige Lawler

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