Denton songbird Caroline Owens gets an early start in bluegrass

Denton, NC, is not only the home of Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver’s Annual Bluegrass Festival. It is also home to many talented musicians and singers. One is Caroline Owens, 18, who practically came into the world singing.

“I began humming around the same time that I started forming words,” the talented young singer confessed. “I can recall my mom always having some form of music playing almost constantly throughout our day. I owe many thanks to her for investing her time and devotions toward my interests.”

By age two, the musical prodigy was formulating songs and started singing them in church.

Owens shared, “Amazing Grace was among the very first that I had memorized, and it will always hold a special place in my heart.”

Growing up, the teenager listened to her mother play piano in their home. It sparked an interest in the child.

“I began piecing notes together around the age of four, and started lessons at the age of eight. I also must add that I would not be the pianist that I am today, had it not been for the early influences of a wonderful teacher and mentor, Zoe Faircloth, who passed away just several months ago. I owe many thanks to her for investing her time and patience within me, and for her many years of thoughtful encouragement.”

Homeschooled, Owens is appreciative of her upbringing. “I’m very thankful for the continuous support of my parents and many other loved ones. From the start of kindergarten to my very last year of high school, my mom has consistently devoted her time and efforts into homeschooling both my younger brother, Eli, and myself. I am very grateful for her hard work and patience; and am very thankful to my dad who has worked hard to provide for our family.” 

It was her love of music and her admiration of Country Music legend, Dolly Parton, that brought the vocalist great joy.

“As a child, I remember taking family trips. My absolute favorite place in the entire world was Dollywood, the magical feeling I felt of just listening to Dolly as we walked around the park. I quickly became utterly fascinated and enthralled by her. Since then, her beautiful voice and songwriting abilities have most definitely been the largest influence in my musical journey.”

Though she’s never met the iconic Dolly in person, she dreams of that encounter.

“I can imagine that it would consist of lots of questions, speechless moments, and many happy tears cried!”

“I feel very fortunate to have received the opportunities that I have, and am very grateful for everything that has passed my way. Among these opportunities, I have been fortunate enough to sing with some of my greatest heroes and musical influences: Alison Krauss, Suzanne Cox, Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers, Darin & Brooke Aldridge, Heather & Tony Mabe, The Isaacs, and others. I am grateful for the wonderful mentors that they have been to me, and I would like to sincerely thank each and every one of them personally for their kindness, and profound effect on my life and music.”

At her young age, Owens has already racked up several notable awards including: 2018 The Isaacs Musication – 1st Place Winner, 2019 International Pentecostal Holiness Church National Songwriter of the Year, 2019 IPHC National Vocal Instrumentalist of the Year, plus numerous first place vocal prizes at NC fiddlers’ conventions. 

Composing songs since age eight, the homeschooler’s prize winning entry for last year’s IPHC Songwriter contest was Only Thine.

“It has been the most influential piece in my songwriting material. The song is simply about fully surrendering our will and placing our cares and worries into His hands. I truly believe that there is freedom in surrender, and that is the message I hope to convey each time this song is sung. Jesus is first and foremost in my life, and I give all glory, praise, and honor to Him.”

The vocalist has also performed in some pretty impressive venues. She played the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts in Franklin, NC; Stevie Barr’s Crooked Road Radio Show in Galax, VA; Chantilly Farm in Floyd, VA; Mountain Soul Vocal Competition in Sevierville, TN, plus numerous local events and churches.

Owens recorded her first CD when she was only 13. 

“I decided that I would like to have a CD produced and Greg Luck (of Riverside Audio) was among some of the very first to encourage me and help me along that journey. From singing background vocals, to playing multiple instruments, Greg has always been willing and ready to do whatever each individual song called for. From countless hours spent in the studio, to behind-the-scenes work of mixing, tuning, and engineering, Greg Luck makes each and every song sound its absolute very best. I am very thankful for all of his hard work and countless words of wisdom.”

He Designed Me was her first project, and she is currently back in Riverside studios recording her latest project, Only Thine.

The future looks bright for this rising star. She is a little lady with big plans.

“I plan to further my career in bluegrass music, by continuing to branch out and gain local exposure in the bluegrass community. I am excited for my future in the music industry, and am ready for whatever lies ahead.”

Owens concluded, “I hope to someday impact another generation of musicians the way that Dolly has greatly impacted me.”

A slightly modified version of this story appeared previously in the Asheboro Courier-Tribune.

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About the Author

Sandy Hatley

Sandy Chrisco Hatley is a free lance writer for several NC newspapers and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. As a teenager, she picked banjo with an all girl band called the Happy Hollow String Band. Today, she plays dobro with her husband's band, the Hatley Family.