Although she will be heading down south quite a bit in the months to come, things couldn't be looking more up for Brookfield's Nora Collins.
The local country music artist plans to spend quite a bit of her time in Nashville, Tennesee, after signing a full-time deal with Nashville-based MV2 Entertainment.
Nora will get to work with the music publishing and artist development company's other talent to improve her songwriting. MV2 will also continue to cultivate her singing talents.
"I'm going to be able to do both. I signed two deals basically. The first part of the deal is where I'll be a full-time songwriter and the other half is for artist development," Nora said. "They're gong to be investing in me as an artist because they believe in me."
While working with the other artists in Tennessee will be a big step, Nora noted that music has been her full-time job for years.
"I've been full-time on my own for awhile now. This has really been my only job that I've ever been pursuing since high school," the Brookfield East graduate said. "But still, it's nice to have the validation of having a real deal."
Collins released her fourth album last year. "My Radio" was recorded in Nashville and all seven songs were written or co-written by the singer herself.
The country music artist started spending time in Tennessee in late 2014. Those visits have certainly paid off.
"In December of 2014 I started taking trips to Nashville on my own very regularly. About every month I was driving down, taking any meeting possible," she said. "Anyone who would meet with me, I would go and meet with them for an hour and play them some songs and talk to them about my goals."
One of those meetings was with MV2 Senior Creative Director Clay Myers. Nora has been on his radar ever since.
"A mutual friend of Nora and I recommended that I check out a young friend of his and that was over a year ago," Myers said.
Myers noted that on at least five or six occasions during Collins' visits he would have her work with different writers who were often impressed with her.
"Each time she showed up prepared and the writers almost always called me after each of those collaborations and said 'Man, this girl is good,'" Myers said. "These are pros that have been doing it for a long time. I kept getting the consistent good stories and the songs were turning out good."
The deal comes as a culmination of sorts for a career that started from a young age.
Collins has been singing for almost her entire life and added songwriting to her vocal talents when she was 14.
In the years since, she has won three Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) awards including "Singer/Songwriter of the Year" in 2014 and "Rising Star" awards in 2012 and 2013. She has been nominated for WAMI awards eight times total. She also has won for "Female Vocalist" and "Acoustic Musician" at the Shepherd Express Best of Milwaukee Awards for three years running, 2013 through 2015.
"It's been a long road to get to this point. It feels just so good to have this new opportunity," Collins said. "I've been working at this for a very long time and it just makes me feel like all the work and time that I've been able to put in was worth it."
She has been compared to country music star Taylor Swift in the past and Myers said that there is no reason that her career can't reach similar heights.
"The sky is the limit. She can headline arenas if she chooses to. I don't see why not," Myers said. "Beyond being a beautiful young lady and beyond being a really wonderful singer, she has that combination that she is also an amazingly hard worker. She's very driven and you can tell she's very smart."
Collins' devotion to her profession has seen her performing over 200 times a year. With the MV2 signing, that number will be reduced, but she is still committed to playing locally when possible.
"I'm going to be spending more and more time in Nashville, but especially this summer I'm going to be home quite a bit to play a lot of my regular summertime shows," Nora said. "I'll be coming back here as often as possible and, when I'm home, I'll definitely plan some shows around the trip."
In the years to come, Myers and MV2 hope to cultivate Collins' abilities as a songwriter while also positioning her for success as a singer.
"The first stage is helping her work on her artistry and developing better and better songs to be competitive for the radio while also putting her in some strategic performance slots in town," Myers said. "Once we get the town to be a fan of Nora like we are a fan, it will probably be about the time to approach a major record deal."
Myers couldn't give a timeline on when he thinks that time may come, but offered advice from his mother.
"Success is when preparation meets opportunity," Myers said.
For Nora Collins, the preparation has been in the works for years. The opportunity is now.