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Kat Perkins, a Scranton, N.D., native who made it to the top five on “The Voice,” will perform this Friday and Saturday, Aug. 22-23, in Medora, N.D. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Perkins ready to give back to fans with weekend concerts in Medora

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When Kat Perkins was in danger of being eliminated from “The Voice,” fans rallied behind her. Their first tweets, for some, were #SaveKat.

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Now the rock singer from Scranton is on a mission: to give back to the fans and help other aspiring musicians pursue their dreams.

“That’s just what I am setting out to do, period,” Perkins said. “It’s just give back, give back, give back. It feels good and I just can’t wait to start that process in Medora.”

It’s barely been two months since Perkins was eliminated on the NBC singing talent show, but she has wasted no time pursuing a career. The top-five semifinalist on “The Voice” will perform Friday and Saturday at the Burning Hills Amphitheater in Medora. On top of that, she will release her first record at the show.

“It’s just been crazy,” said Perkins, who is now based in the Twin Cities. “I jumped back into nannying for a couple months and I just finished my last week.”

Being ‘Fearless’

The release party is scheduled for Sept. 26, but she is bringing the record to Medora for the North Dakota release.

The song she has been pushing from the record is “Fearless,” which she says captures her journey on “The Voice.” She had to have a certain mindset as she faced challenges, including the threat of elimination.

Even after the show, the song describes her attitude in succeeding as an artist.

“That includes taking a lot of chance and being fearless,” she said. “I felt like when I got home if I could do that, I could do anything.”

Perkins was invited to try out for “The Voice” after producers saw her singing on YouTube. “The Rockin’ Nanny,” as she is referred to by fans, turned all four chairs during the blind auditions. With Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine as her coach, she made it to the semifinals with four other singers.

During Perkins’ run on the show, she didn’t let thinking about moving on or being eliminated bother her. Instead, she focused on performing and giving it her all, she said.

The song and mindset drove her to get her motorcycle license this summer.

“It’s the summer of trying new things,” Perkins said. “The experience was so inspiring that I just had to have a song that captures a lot of that, and I think ‘Fearless’ does.”

The singer still can’t believe she has a record and is about to set out on tour.

While Perkins knows being a musician is hard work, she said she is prepared for it because it’s what she loves to do.

“It’s a dream come true,” she said. “I’m having a ton of much fun, but at the same time it is work. I keep forgetting that because I’m having so much fun and I’m so lucky to make a living off of what I love.”

Giving back

Perkins previously hinted that she would like her first concert to be in Medora, where she performed as a Burning Hills Singer in the Medora Musical in the early 2000s.

The first week of June, she made the announcement that she was coming home.

“That’s what gave me my life,” Perkins said. “That experience, that show, being on that stage gave me my life as a performer. It will really be fun to come back full circle.”

Tickets for the Friday show went on sale June 16, and all 2,800 tickets sold out within four hours. Perkins said she was floored.

“The president of the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, Randy Hutzenbuhler, told me he predicted the show would sell out, and I was just like ‘yeah right,’” Perkins said.

“I said, ‘I love your optimism,’ ... and I hated to laugh but I thought that is a lot of people.”

The foundation asked the singer to do a second show on Saturday.

Kendra and Krista Slaubaugh, the Hazen duo known as Tigirlily, thought the second show was almost sold out as well.

“She’s obviously outstanding, and to be a part of that is just awesome,” Kendra said.

The sisters will open for the rock singer both nights.

The girls previously asked for advice from Perkins, which she says inspired her so much that there was no other choice for her opening act.

“To me, they were so inspiring to me at that point,” Perkins said. “They were coming to me for advice.

“I helped them as much as I could and I watched them flourish and gain such a following on social media.”

Perkins referred to another North Dakotan, country singer Gwen Sebastian, who hails from Hebron and also appeared on “The Voice” in 2012. The singer has given both Perkins and Tigirlily advice. In turn, Tigirlily, who sought help from Perkins, is encouraging others to follow their dreams, whether it is giving lessons or simply singing songs of inspiration.

“To see that full circle, that thing that I love, it’s so cool to see it happening that way,” Perkins said. “It means the world to me that they (Tigirlily) would want to perform with me.”

Perkins said she can’t wait to start performing in North Dakota, adding that there are multiple opportunities for her to give back to her fans. A list of concert dates can be found at katperkinsmusic.com.

“Now is the time to give back ... because of all that those people gave to me with their support and their voting and watching,” she said. “The least that I can do is come back and play for them.”

It’s a different world than when Perkins started singing.

YouTube and Facebook, which has been instrumental to upcoming artists, first appeared in the mid-2000s.

Artists had to be noticed by agents in big cities like Los Angeles or New York. And people from small towns like Scranton barely had a chance.

But Perkins had her fans and family to fall back on, and she kept pushing until she achieved her dreams.

There was one thing that Levine taught her on the show, and it’s advice she passes on to anyone pursuing a dream.

“I encourage anybody, no matter what kind of town you are from ... to really just get yourself out there,” Perkins said. “Put yourself out there, take the risk and learn from everything. You don’t know what can happen from that.

“If you really love something that you have to pursue it that hard, it is probably worth it. Just trust your gut.”

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April Baumgarten
April Baumgarten joined The Dickinson Press as the assistant editor in January 2014 and was named news editor in October 2014. She helps lead a team of top-notch news reporters and plays a role in coordinating design for western North Dakota's award-winning newspaper. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family continues to raise registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college,  she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as the Dickinson city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican, where she helped the two newspapers win numerous awards.   
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