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DRIFTWOOD — Katy Kirby isn’t sure how she wound up playing the main stage of this year’s Old Settler’s Music Festival.

Maybe her mother, Lisa Kirby, suggested it.

“I didn’t have anything else to do that weekend,” Katy recalled.

So a year ago, the Faith Academy of Marble Falls graduate entered the youth competition.

And won.

“Last year was very, very unexpected,” the Spicewood native said. “I would have bet money against me.”

As a mother, Lisa always knew her daughter was talented.

“It was cool last year when she won. It’s not just me who thinks she’s wonderful,” Lisa said. “There were judges and super-talented kids up there, and Katy won. It affirmed from the outside you really are as good as I think you are.”

So a year later, Katy opened the festival April 11 on the main stage with her younger sister, Kylie, and friend, Caitlyn Zucca.

Started in 1987, the folk and Americana festival April 10-13 featured acts such as Jeff Bridges & the Abiders, Bob Schneider, Big Head Todd & the Monsters and The Del McCoury Band.

“I think I’m losing my voice a little bit. That’s never happened before,” Katy said after the set. “I yell a lot in happiness when I’m with my sister and friends. We stayed up way too late; that was bad. But I think it went well.”

Katy is a freshman at Belmont University in Nashville, so rehearsal time was limited when she flew in the night before the festival.

“Most of the nerves were when she got back,” Kylie said. “We were practicing on recordings she made in a stairwell. The first practice session had the most nerves, but getting up there (on stage) was really fun.”

Katy played a 12-song set of original songs with one cover. Between songs, she told stories of where her compositions came from or bantered back and forth with crowd members sitting in lawn chairs in front of the stage.

“I did forget an entire verse of a song, but it wasn’t a good verse,” Katy said. “I don’t feel bad when I mess up here because everyone’s so freakin’ nice.”

In front of the stage, Lisa recorded most of the performance on her phone, smiling the entire time.

“When your child writes a song, you’re always trying to figure out, ‘OK, what is she talking about?’ Who’s in this story? Am I in this? Is it a boy? Who are we talking about? What’s the backstory?'” Lisa said. “Katy won’t usually give you the (details) on that; she won’t talk about it, not anymore than she’ll talk about it when she’s up there.”

On stage, Katy tells the crowd about one song she wrote for a boy. But she wasn’t sure he understood it. A couple more are about death. She even asked the audience to ignore the lyrics to the first song she ever wrote.

Katy enjoys performing and writing and chose Belmont for its songwriting program. However, she’s switched her major to English.

“What attracted me (to songwriting) was the use of words, so I switched to English, and I’m so glad I did,” she said. “It’s made me a better writer. I love it, and I fell in love with Nashville.”

Katy said she doesn’t know what she wants to do right now. She loves to read and write. How that interacts with music is yet to be determined.

“At the moment, music is not a professional goal,” she said. “I thought it was, too, until a couple months ago.”

Whatever she does, Lisa knows Katy is an artist at heart.

“She just wants to write songs and sing them. If people like that and want her to sing them, she will. She’s not very self-promoting,” Lisa said. “She’s just happy. Happy to be and do.”

Sometimes, mothers know best. To Katy, her mother seems to know best 100 percent of the time.

“My mom is so awesome. I didn’t realize until I went to college. She’s literally always, always right. About everything.” Katy said.

The few times Katy thinks she’s finally wrong, Lisa lets her think that.

“Then, I’ll call her a week later, like ‘Dang, how did you know?’ My mom’s the best.”

Lisa said she could see Katy getting noticed and having a career. Or it could take years.

“I don’t know where she’s going,” Lisa said.

Katy seems OK with that.

“I’ve made great friends (in Nashville), so I decided to stay,” Katy said. “It’s a great place to figure that out.”