"I go to one of the biggest party schools in America and I don't even party," Danielle Lee Wehr exclaimed. "I don't even watch TV."
Instead the 21-year old Indiana University student dedicates her leisure time to her promising music career. On this particular night, she headed back to her hometown of Huntingburg, Indiana, for a performance at the town's annual Herbstfest.
"I'm so excited. Ever since I was a little girl, I've wanted to play the Herbstfest," she expresses. "This is the biggest concert of the year for me; it's a big stepping stone."
Backstage, Danielle's take-charge approach is exhibited. She sits among her band and reviews notes. Later she voices her concerns regarding the stage lighting to a tech. Clearly, this girl understands the ropes of the business.
A large group of supporters fill the park in anticipation of seeing the successful songstress. Danielle's mother is nearby setting up a merchandise table stocked with t-shirts and cds. Her father can be found racing around the stage doing everything from transporting equipment, assembling a video camera tripod, and checking guitar batteries.
Danielle's support has led to a strong social media presence, too. Her YouTube performance videos have surpassed thousands of views.
"I get a lot of requests, especially country," she says of her savvy videos. "I play almost everything; I love learning new songs. YouTube is a nice support tool."
For such a young adult, Danielle carries herself with great poise. She maintains a balance between her studies and career, but acknowledges the challenge.
"It's very difficult. I have to make sure I get my degree first, so I have to do well with my grades. I do make time for music though. On the bus, I write songs. During a study break, I play my guitar. Organization makes it so much easier and it keeps my eyes focused on the goal. I want to graduate and then focus on Nashville."
Nashville. The place where so many people watch their dreams unfold and where even more have their dreams shattered.
Danielle has spent quite a bit of time in the famed Music City. It was there she was introduced to songwriter Buck Moore and had the opportunity to meet record label executives. Moore even co-wrote several songs with Danielle, including listener-favorite "Blue Tattoo."
"I don't have a blue tattoo or any tattoo. I'm too much of a wimp." Danielle coyly admits.
What can fans expect from Danielle's debut self-titled album that was released last week?
"They are going to hear the most country thing ever. There's Hoosier pride, love songs, and even some cheating songs," Danielle allows.
Her show that evening showcases her wide range of influences. She cites Johnny Cash, the Carter Family, and Merle Haggard as favorites.
"I have those classic country roots in me. Even though country music today is all about marketing and getting your name out there, the business is still getting new fans. I can understand crossing over," she states.
As the September sun fades, Danielle, guitar in hand, heads onstage. She launches her set with Loretta Lynn's signature hit, "Coal Miner's Daughter."
Her show consists of vintage country tunes, contemporary radio hits, and her self-penned material. Her desire to perform is obvious and she has the talent to match.
As far as her future, Danielle says, "If Nashville doesn't like me, I'll keep playing. For me, it's all about the audience. I do it for them."
There's no doubt that Danielle isn't even close to catching her last glimpse of success.