A Denison native recently took home a country music singing award in Branson, Missouri. Kari Garrison won the female vocalist of the year award at the Branson Terry Music Award show held on Oct. 9.

Garrison was unable to attend the award show, but her father Charles Woolly, also of Denison, accepted the award on his daughter’s behalf.

“I was just honored by the Branson Terry Music awards,” Garrison said. “As I was unable to attend because I had a show so my dad drove up from Denison to sit in my place just in case. And, when I was announced the winner, the emotion and pride brought a tear to everyone in the room. My sweet dad said ‘Thank you, Branson, for loving my baby’ in his speech. Of all the things in this world, that moment was one of the most precious.”

While Garrison did not take music lessons while growing up in Denison, she said her father, brothers and sisters always sang gospel. She remembers the family harmonies.

“I was singing with them from the time I could talk,” she said.

Garrison believes that she realized that she wanted to sing in 2001 when she was dared to go on her first audition by her sister.

“I went from Bluegrass and bluejeans on the weekends to 12 shows a week, 15 costume changes, and fake eyelashes,” she said with a laugh. “I soon realized that wasn’t me.”

Then in 2003, Garrison had the opportunity to sing at The Grand Ole Opry with Moe Bandy, a country music artists whose career has spanned five decades. Bandy will be performing this weekend at WinStar Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma.

“It was an honor,” she said. “I spent eight amazing years in his show. He decided to go on the road full time and, being a mother, I couldn’t be away from my son.”

A few years later, Garrison was offered a job at Clay Coopers Country Music Express.

“I currently perform weekly in this show and I’m so thankful for Clay and Tina Cooper and their huge cast that has become my family,” she said.

While Garrison said that show is a must-see production, she will soon be putting on her own show. Beginning in April of 2018, Garrison will be playing regularly at the Jim Stafford Theater in Branson.

“If it’s in your veins, nothing will stop you,” she said. “Even if I weren’t in a show, I’d sing somewhere … in the shower, in the car.”

Garrison said since she never cared for fame, she wants her musical legacy to be in the music she loves to make.

“It’s certainly for the love,” she said. “I love singing because it stirs emotions. It can make you cry, miss someone, laugh, remember a love or a special day. If I can touch someone’s life, make them smile once on an otherwise bad day or if I can leave someone with that, I’d feel truly blessed.”

Garrison received her first slot on an album when she was 10 years old.

“My dad at the age of 72, to this day, has a bluegrass band, New County Line,” she said. “They have jam sessions every Thursday night in his kitchen on Perry Street. When I was 10, Dad let me record a song on their CD. I am pretty sure that was the moment when I knew music would always be a part of my life.”

Those she has not lived in Denison for a while, Garrison is proud that she still gets introduced as a Denison native.

“I’m introduced in front of thousands of people a week from all over the world as Kari Garrison, from Denison, Texas just hope I make my hometown proud,” she said.