It's not often a 13-year-old girl gets a chance to record and perform as a professional musician. But it does happen - and sometimes close to home.
Elaini Arthur, an aspiring country singer and songwriter from Hollidaysburg, already has built a musical resume performing at popular venues in Tennessee and West Virginia, as well as recording a 10-track compact disc at Joltin' Jim McCoy's Main Frame Studio in Nashville - eight of which are original compositions composed and arranged by Elaini herself.
"The CD's been my proudest achievement so far in music," Elaini said. "The old country sound is what inspired me; it's different from all the country music today."
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Elaini Arthur, 13, of Hollidaysburg performs Sept. 11 at a Patriot Day concert at Heritage Plaza in Altoona.
The "old country sound" she is referring to is the emotive voice of the late Patsy Cline - an artist she discovered at age 5.
"It was just her voice," Elaini said. "Something just struck me with her voice."
Having recently performed at a concert on Sept. 11 at Altoona's Heritage Plaza, Elaini is in full-throttle pursuit of achieving her three-pronged dream. She wants to become the Patsy Cline of her generation, achieve member status in the famed Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and sing alongside another singer she admires - Loretta Lynn.
"I love Loretta's songs and her voice, but my main influence is still Patsy," she said.
The first song Elaini ever sang was for her kindergarten talent show in Hollidaysburg - a Broadway showtune called "If They Could See Me Now," said Elaini's mother, Christy Arthur, 38.
A few weeks later, while shopping at a local department store with her grandmother, Elaini noticed a Patsy Cline CD. Her grandmother bought her the CD, and a profound passion for country music was born.
Before she could even read or write, she wrote her first song, asking her parents to write it down as she sang it, she said.
She's also taught herself to play several instruments, including guitar, autoharp, mandolin and banjo - guitar being her favorite to play.
"We don't know where she gets it from; we have no musical people in our family," said Christy Arthur. "All we know is that she definitely wants to pursue this. I think it's just great."
Patsy Cline's voice created a spark that inspired Elaini's desire to create beautiful country music, reach out to people and make lasting friendships, she said - like those she's fostered with Jim McCoy, the man who helped Patsy Cline attain radio exposure, and Cline's own family in Winchester, Va.
"She's had an awful lot help along the way from people in Nashville and West Virginia," she said. "She's become very good friends with Patsy's family. Even entertainers around here have encouraged her - people like (local DJ and magician) Denny Huber and One Lane Bridge, a husband-and-wife team from outside the Bedford area that sings old-school country songs."
McCoy, 79, of Berkeley Springs, W. Va., has never had a chart-topping hit, but has managed to make a lifelong career in the music business - performing all over the country, recording for a major Nashville label and running his own record company that featured regional acts from West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, according to the West Virginia Division of Culture and History (www.wvculture.org).
"He gives her a lot of great advice," Christy Arthur said of McCoy. "He told her never to give up on her dream."
Elaini cited her parents, McCoy and Patsy Cline's daughter, Julie Fudge, as her biggest supporters.
"I'm behind her 100 percent," said David Arthur, Elaini's father. "I'm just amazed with all this talent that comes from her. I'm just trying to keep up with her - the more she does, the more she wants to do."
David Arthur, 38, said his daughter's CD has a "country-swing beat to it."
"When I was younger, I was into heavy metal and dance club music," he said. "Now, I'm listening to a lot of the older country music. Some of the newer stuff's OK, but the older stuff is so much better."
While her husband was thrashing to Metallica, Christy was taking in the sunny sounds of The Beach Boys, she said - a marked contrast, to be sure. But despite the differences in their music listening past, they're both on the same page when it comes to their daughter's future.
"We want her to be happy, and do what she wants to do," Christy Arthur said. "She's worked hard to get this far, and if she continues to do that, she's going to reach all her dreams."
Mirror Staff Writer Jimmy Mincin is at 946-7460.