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Cottage Grove teen releases first single

Hailey James (left) and her sister Carly Trzebiatowski attended the Midwest CMA Awards Feb. 17 in Hamel, Minn. James, 15, released her first single, "Live Your Life." Photo courtesy of Aaron Trzebiatowski

She's not old enough to drive, but singer and guitarist Hailey James has released her first single.

"Live Your Life" is available on iTunes, Spotify and other digital music services.

James, 15, of Cottage Grove, recorded the self-penned song at the Sartell, Minn., studio of producer and songwriter Greg Michael Huberty.

"I'm so excited," she said. "It took a little longer than I expected because I don't have any experience with recording, but it was very easy, honestly."

Hailey and her parents, Aaron and Julie, made three separate trips to Sartell before she and Huberty had a final mix they were satisfied with.

"I was still getting over a cold so I had to come in another time when I got to do the final vocals," she said.

James said she won't know how well the song is selling until three months after its Feb. 15 release.

She began playing guitar early in her teens. She performed in local talent shows and the Minnesota State Fair. Last year, she made the regional finals of a national PBS talent search called "Celebration of Music." She plays bars and clubs around the region. Her shows mix original compositions with country music favorites.

On Feb. 17, she got to glam up and walk the red carpet with her sister Carly Trzebiatowski at the Midwest CMA Awards in Hamel, Minn.

"It was the real deal," she said. "I really felt like a VIP."

Her single wasn't released in time to be nominated for this year's awards.

"I think next year I have a better chance at getting nominated, seeing as more people will know who I am," she said.

To make that happen, she's stepping up her touring schedule.

"I'm trying to get around to more cities in the Twin Cities so I can reach different audiences," she said. "I have a lot of gigs scheduled these upcoming months. I'm booked out until summer."

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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