has a sound uniquely her own. Her arrangements are often built around chiming acoustic guitars, sparkling mandolins, evocative fiddle lines, and the occasional ripple of the steel guitar. "I'm tiny, so screaming over a wall of electric guitars isn't comfortable," Austin has said. "I'd rather bring people in, draw them close and find a way to use the dynamics of my voice." Born in Sydney, Australia, Austin has been entertaining people and singing country music practically from her birth. At the age of 14, she got her "big break" by being asked to open for Johnny Cash's 1985 Australian tour and eventually was invited to Nashville by the Australian Country Music Association. At the age of 14, her parents said she was too young and Austin herself agreed. Her second big break came not in music, but in acting, at age 17 landing the role of Pippa McKenna on one of NBC's popular shows, The Facts of Life
Even while acting in Hollywood, Austin continued songwriting, performing, and taking keyboard and vocal lessons with Linda Ronstadt's vocal coach, Robert Edwards. Musical influences like Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton eventually drove her from Hollywood to Nashville, where she met her co-writer/co-producer Will Rambeaux, with whom she collaborated on two of her albums, 1997's Words
and 1999's Love in the Real World
. Followin' a Feelin'
was issued in early 2001, and Streets of Heaven followed in 2003, featuring the hit title track single. Besides performing her own music, Austin is also accomplished behind the scenes, having co-written songs for several high-profile artists, including the title track on Blake Shelton's 2008 Startin' Fires and George Strait's "Where Have You Been All My Life" from 2009's Twang. Austin's first fully independent release, Circus Girl, is scheduled to arrive in the fall of 2011.