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Hutson, a military brat, was born in Austin but spent her formative years in Southern California, Okinawa, Japan, and Slidell, Louisiana. It was as a teenager, “sneaking off” with her girlfriends to nearby New Orleans, that she experienced her first taste of live music in a club setting, via the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. “It was something I’d never seen before,” she says, marveling at the palpable electric charge of passion and intimate connection that blurred the line between the band and audience. “And just kind of realizing that to make live music, you don’t have to be young and pretty per se or even mainstream — it really kind of blew my head open.”That awakening synced up nicely with her move back to the live music hotbed of Austin for college — or close enough, anyway. She landed in San Marcos, 30 miles south, ostensibly to study musical theater at Southwest Texas State — but her real education came off campus, singing in sweaty rehearsal spaces (Tom Thumb Mini- storage units) and even sweatier bars with her first two bands, Remedy and Blu Funk Junction. Hutson had always been a natural onstage, dancing and singing in talent contests and school theater productions throughout childhood. But performing as part of a live band, freestyle and in-the-moment, was truly her calling — so clearly that even her college theater professor encouraged her to take a leap of faith. “He asked me what my plans were, if I had any interest in teaching or working behind the scenes, or if I was just pursuing a performance degree to be a performer,” she recalls. When she told him the latter, he told her, straight up, “Well, you should just go do that, then —we can’t teach you to do that any more than you already know.” “I was really stunned, because I never expected a professor to tell me to drop out of school,” she says with a laugh. “But he wasn’t the only one. So around the beginning of my junior year, I just stopped going. I’m not really proud of that, and it was never really a conversation I had with my parents or even my boyfriend at the time, who was the drummer in my first band. He probably would have been like, ‘What are you doing?’ But I’m such a dreamer, I get real caught up in my head and I just had the bug. I started writing my own songs and fell so in love with the idea of playing live music with an original band that I just fell headfirst into it.”