At 15, she recorded her first demo in Nashville, which led to a tour bus driver for Fleetwood Mac hearing it. He, in turn, played the song for a manager that flew Hinkle to Ireland when she was 17 to record another demo.
“It was just about to be released when his daughter was brutally murdered, and, due to the circumstances, he just dropped the project completely,” said Hinkle, who headlines the Summer Concert Series at Quintard Mall July 21. “And I’ve just been playing shows, writing songs and doing live recordings since.”
The concert at Quintard Mall is special for the 27-year-old self-taught musician from Knightens Crossroads, a small community in Piedmont, because she gets to perform in her hometown for a crowd full of family, friends and fans who have been “a supportive community that’s been waiting for a while now to see something happen.”
Hinkle said she is working on a new album that is scheduled to be released no later than January 2013. And with a new manager, she is “excited to see people’s reactions to the new songs.”
“Honestly, I don’t try to blow lots of whistles,” she said. “There’s not going to be fireworks or pyrotechnics at the shows. It’s just me and my guitar, and I hope for now that’s enough and people just enjoy the songs.”
Hinkle has had the opportunity to open for big musical acts such as country music duo Sugarland and Grammy award-winning rock band Train. She credits her win at Eddie’s Attic Open Mic Shootout in Atlanta when she was 17 to the opportunity to open for those artists.
“One of the judges for that contest was actually Jennifer Nettles’ [of Sugarland] tour manager at the time and that got me the gig for opening for them,” Hinkle said. “I’m really fortunate to have opened for the very first show they ever did at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2003 when they released their first album.”
And now, the songwriter, who is influenced by pop radio and John Mayer, can add headliner to her burgeoning list of accomplishments.
Brooke McCulley, marketing director at Quintard Mall, chose Hinkle along with three other local bands to participate in this summer’s inaugural concert series that takes place this Saturday and on July 21 and 28.
“I did not realize what great talent Calhoun County had until I was searching for entertainment for this event,” McCulley said. “After speaking with some of the artists, they said they were so grateful and excited we were hosting the summer concert series to give families the opportunity to enjoy their music because they mostly play in bars or clubs where there is a minimum age to enter.”
McCulley, who is already thinking of creating a similar event in the fall for local artists to perform at Quintard Mall, added, “I wanted to host an event that the entire family — young and old — would enjoy. Everyone loves to hear a great band, and I thought a summer concert series would be the perfect fit for Quintard Mall.”
Hinkle fits perfectly into a lineup that includes Altitudes, The Record Year and Counting the Cost. Known for her honest lyrics on her 2009 EP “Enough,” and performing backup harmonies with a guitar loop pedal that also kicks drum beats, Hinkle said audiences can expect mostly original material with a few cover songs.
“At shows like WorkPlay and Quintard, I like to play original material so if people listen to it and like it, then maybe they’ll buy the album,” she said. “I just want to play whatever makes people happy, but it’s going to take a while for people to know my material so I play stuff people can sing along to and change it up a bit to make it my own.”
“I hope people will walk away from each concert knowing that Calhoun County has great talent and they don’t have to travel for quality entertainment,” McCulley said. “The performers are working hard to make a name for themselves so I hope we can come together and support the local talent.”