CLINTON David Jolley closes eyes his eyes and sinks into the melody of "Out of Time," which fills the living room in their Clinton home.
As 13-year-old daughter Katelyn belts out the lyrics to the song, which she wrote and for which she composed the music, it doesn't seem like much of a mystery that she made it to the final round of Country Music Television's "Music City Madness."
The contest, which began with 700 entries of self-produced music videos of original music uploaded to CMT's Web site, was narrowed to 64 finalists in an NCAA tournament-style bracket.
Each week, after online votes are tallied, half of the contestants are eliminated, and all along the way, Katelyn Jolley has come out on top with her song, "The Game."
The sixth and final round of the contest began Tuesday and ends Dec. 10. The next day, the Jolleys expect to find out if Katelyn lands the grand prize, a trip to Nashville, Tenn., an opportunity to perform on her own "Unplugged at Studio 330" at CMT's studio and a personal audition for Sony BMG Nashville executives.
It's one of those chances of a lifetime for Katelyn Jolley, a largely self-taught musician, poet, writer and pianist. She began guitar lessons in January and was hooked from her first D chord.
Now, she's learning to play the violin.
The Jolleys are originally from Utah, but spent six years in Michigan and moved back to Utah in June. In October, while watching television, they saw an advertisement for CMT's contest, and in a flash, Katelyn decided to enter.
David Jolley shot video of his daughter playing a few of her songs and uploaded them to CMT's Web site just before the deadline. Just over a week later, they found out she was among the top 64 contestants.
Advancing week to week has been nothing but great for Katelyn's confidence, she says.
"I always believe I could do anything I could put my heart to," she said. But she still has crossed her fingers hoping to make it to succeeding rounds.
She knows, too, that she has fans around the world who are voting for her.
And it seems to be working.
This week, she's is facing off against the other finalist, Macy Van Arnam, a 16-year-old from Ogdensburg, N.Y.
Both girls play guitar and sing in their videos, which can be viewed and voted on at madness.cmt.com.
Mom Jennifer Jolley says she and David, who have home-schooled their three children with the philosophy that "The world is our classroom," encourage them to follow whatever dreams they have.
Katelyn picked up music and will have many future instruments to choose from. The family owns guitars, keyboards, a piano, drums, a bass guitar, trumpet, clarinet, flute, violin, ukulele, harmonicas and a kazoo.
But her siblings express their creativity in other ways.
Eleven-year-old Alex loves computer animation, Web design and inventing, and 7-year-old Samantha enjoys gymnastics and art.
Eventually, Katelyn says, she would love to professionally record her first album, which she plans to call "Thinking Out Loud." It would include about a dozen original songs.
For now, the hours tick by until contest results are posted, and television and newspaper reporters come calling. Katelyn is called upon for impromptu performances, which she executes effortlessly.But if votes continue being cast in her favor, Katelyn Jolley could find herself performing for a much wider audience.
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