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Paulina Jayne Perakis is on her way to making a mark in "urban country" music. photo by Tyler Henker.

February 27, 2014
"I like to have that gritty rock sound. I'm not afraid to say something — be bold," said 18-year-old Paulina Jayne Perakis.

Her gritty urban country rock sound resulted in a February trip to Nashville, Tenn., to perform for NBC's "The Voice" television show's producers.

A resident of the Cityof Grosse Pointe, Paulina Jayne, her stage name, didn't have to wait in a line with thousands of hopefuls. Instead she, and a preselected 100 other musicians, sang before a producer and a camera. Four songs were prepared by each and Paulina Jayne said she sang Aretha Franklin's "Natural Woman" and AVICII's "Wake Me Up." The number of tunes completed depended on how much of the personality you gave off, she explained.

"I played for a medium amount of time. I wasn't cut on the spot. The producers did say 'hope to see you again,'" she said and is taking that as a positive sign.

To date, Paulina Jayne hasn't heard if she has been selected to appear in next season's segments. In the meantime, the high school senior is preparing for two March performance dates, a fundraiser at Brownell Middle School and a May performance in Ann Arbor, as well as high school graduation before heading to Nashville mid-summer. There she is to write songs under the tutelage of her producer and country music songwriter, Trey Bruce.

"I don't write anything down," she said of her creative process. "The melody comes to me and I have to capture it in that moment on my phone or in the studio," she said.

Following weeks of song writing, Paulina Jayne said, she will attend classes at Nashville's liberal arts Belmont University, known for its music curriculum, and major in music business.

"It's on music row. Number one hit song writers are teachers of the song-writing classes," she said.

Does she need help writing new tunes because the blonde-haired former high school basketball player, who maintains a 4.0 GPA, began writing songs at the age of 9?

"There is more to learn. Song writing needs to be sharper. The more you write the easier it be-comes," Paulina Jayne said. "Writing is my first love. The singing part came later.

"My first song was a classical piece. I was sitting at the piano. I had learned Bach pieces. My mom came into the room (and) asked me what I was playing."

Paulina Jayne admitted it wasn't anything like Bach but her mother, who also plays piano, as did both her grandmothers, encouraged her to continue. An hour later the piece was complete, thus her initial entry into music composition. Switching to write urban country music "just happened. I wrote less classical and more singable (music)," she said.

She continued playing the piano for six years. "I grew to love the instrument," she said.

In the seventh grade, she took her talent to the middle school stage and performed "Butterfly," a song about breaking out of the cocoon. In the eighth grade, she taught herself to play guitar, followed by learning to play the ukulele. Paulina Jayne is continuing to broaden her musical abilities by learning to play drums and bass and work with her vocal coach and mentor Detroit's Herschel Boone.

Since "Butterfly," her abilities have taken flight, saying she now writes about "greater" things that appeal to a wide demographic area.

"I grab inspiration from different places," she said. "I always have a few songs in the oven."

Though chronologically young, Paulina Jayne has made enough of a mark in the music industry to be the subject of a documentary by award-winning documentary filmmaker, Jennifer Champagne with Milake Pictures.

Paulina Jayne said of Champagne: "Doing a couple music videos with Jennifer I grew to love and appreciate the art. She followed me in Nashville."

"Paulina is an incredible talent. (She) is bright. She has a huge future in front of her. Paulina the high school student, as opposed to Paulina Jayne the professional, is pretty profound," Champagne said.

Paulina Jayne, named for a Czech-born model, said she realizes not many teenagers have the experiences she has, entering the professional world as a teenager, and does miss some of the normal high school highlights. Though she had to give up basketball due to knee surgeries, she said she still supports her fellow students, including attending basketball games.

"I can't complain about missing things. I don't get to go to all the dances but I get to be in Nashville and writing with some awesome people," Paulina Jayne said.

Success is a combination of talent, mentors, persistence, as well as family support.

"Without my mom, I couldn't go to all these gigs. My parents have been supportive. Being with family and friends is right below music," she said of her passions. "They (relationships) are the most important to me, to build and nurture. They are the most important."

Therefore, before she moves to Nashville, there will be some time to spend with her family, consisting of mother, Deborah O'Brien, father, Harold Perakis, and older brother, Straton, as well as her circle of friends.

However, "Music is my main extra curricular. It takes all my time when I'm not in school."

Raised in the Midwest, and in particular metro Detroit, has been an asset according to Paulina Jayne.

"Artists from Detroit are respected. Country music has a big market here," she said.

She has been a part of the Detroit Hoedown, nominated for best music video at the 2013 Detroit Music Awards and Uptown Film Festival and earned the 2013 Student Emmy music video for "Get Back on Your Feet." Her name has appeared on the marquee with singers Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Dierks Bently, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Hunter Hayes and Blackberry Smoke. She has opened for Sheryl Crow, Chase Rice, Ty Stone and Jerrod Niemann performing her original songs.

When not in school or doing homework and answering e-mails, Paulina Jayne is creating her sound with her band musical director and keyboardist Pete Martinez, background vocalist Ardis Grace, drummer Stephen Boegehold, bass player Cory Tramontelli and electric guitarists John Gallo, Josiah Kreidler and Mike Privett for her fans.

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