Lila McCann has a gold album, "Lila," which sold more than 500,000 copies, and was handpicked by George Strait for his traveling country music festival.
And she just turned 16."This is so much fun," she said in a telephone interview. "But I'm learning something new every day." McCann was resting at home in Tacoma, Wash., during a break from touring.
The all-day festival features Strait, McCann, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, John Michael Montgomery, Lee Ann Womack and Asleep at the Wheel. The troupe will pull into Cougar Stadium on Saturday, May 23. Artists scheduled to play on the second stage include Shane Stockton, Big House and Jesse Dayton.
The music will begin about 11 a.m. and continue until 10:30 p.m. Tickets are available at all Smith's-Tix outlets or by calling 467-TIXX or 1-800-888-TIXX.
In addition to the music, there will be a carnival called "Strait-land," a community of food, clothing and games venders.
"It's like a country fair on the road," said Scott Kernahan of Pace Touring, the production company that set up the show.
Kernahan said performing the festival on weekends was an easy decision. "It's a full-day's event," he said from San Antonio. "We didn't think it was a good idea to hold it in the middle of the week where people would have to get off work to go. It also fit Lila's schedule because of school."
McCann was excited when she learned Strait chose her to tour. "Just the mention of his name made me want to do it," said McCann, who began her singing career at age 4 with her father's country band. "Then we found out it was only on the weekends, and that was definitely cool."
Strait's festival actually began as a one-day performance in San Antonio six years ago, Kernahan said. "Two years ago, we decided to take it to Dallas and then to Los Angeles. It got quite a bit of response, so we decided to take it on a 20-city run this year.
"Everything about this show is a challenge. But so is life. Getting all the artists together for just one day out of the week is interesting. Add that to the fact that Faith is five months pregnant. We've also had to book shows at arenas where we had to work around baseball schedules. Then there were the natural challenges - rain and cold."
Case in point: opening day in Phoenix, March 14. "The fans, to me, are the dedicated ones," McCann said, referring to the Phoenix event. "They sat in the rain, freezing and all, just to see us. They are just too cool."
In her spare time, McCann still does "teenage things," such as going to the mall and hanging with friends. But she said her family and buds don't treat her any different.
"The only real thing that has changed is that they tell me they saw me on TV or something," Mc-Cann said. "But I'm still in school, and my main focus is to graduate. I usually get to my homework during the week.
"It is still kind of strange when people recognize me. When they ask me for my autograph I laugh, because it's still new to me."
Because of McCann's age, she is always compared to LeAnn Rimes, another 16-year-old country music sensation.
"We were working on our debut albums at the same time," McCann said. "I do wish my album came out first, but I wasn't ready.
"Anyway, things are just cool for me right now."