The first thing that gets you about country singer Kimberly Dunn is her friendly and spunky personality. Then, when she starts strumming her guitar and singing in a country voice both tender and powerful, you're hooked.
That's what happened to Scott Willson and Will Harrison of Up and Out Artists in November 2010. The managers met San Antonio native Dunn backstage at a Battle of the Bands contest at Texas A&M, where Dunn was a senior.
"We had a great talk about music," says Dunn, who had played alto sax in the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band, but longed for a career singing her own songs. Harrison remembers thinking that "if her music has as much charisma as she does personally, she'll really have something."
The only solo acoustic contestant out of 30 acts in the Battle, Dunn walked onstage with confidence, kicked off her high heels with a laugh and started into a guitar riff, as she stomped out a rhythm on the stage's hollow floor. It was only her fourth live performance as a singer-songwriter (the first three were the preliminary rounds) and yet Dunn had an instant hold on the audience. She ended up winning the contest.