She may have grown up in Michigan, but Jana Kramer is country at heart. The former “One Tree Hill” actress entered into the music scene in 2012 with the release of her self-titled debut album. She has since been enjoying success in the genre — gearing up for a tour with Blake Shelton, planning her wedding with fellow country music star Brantley Gilbert, and heading to Arizona for a performance at Country Thunder, the annual music festival in Florence. In between it all, she chatted briefly with the Tribune about her career and what fans will experience this weekend at her show.

Q: Was the transition from acting to music easy for you?

A: It definitely wasn’t the easiest. I had a lot of set backs… and people, you know, (were) not quite sure about me. But, it took just some hard work and a lot of persistence and country radio and the fans ended up just being really great and embraced me.

Q: Have you been musically inclined your whole life?

A: I grew up in a really musical family. So, I was singing and doing competitions back when I couldn’t even talk… I grew up listening to country. It’s all I listened to. I grew up listening to Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash and Garth Brooks, so country was always what I wanted to sing.

Q: What do you love about country music?

A: I think it’s the most honest genre out there. It tells a story, especially with the sad ballads. It touches you the most out of any other genre.

Q: What are you looking forward to about your performance at Country Thunder? Brantley is performing the day before your set, so that must be fun to be able to perform at the same venue together.

A: We’re just looking forward to going out there and having a fun time. I’m kind of bummed that I’m missing Brantley by one day. But, it’s going to be fun. (Brantley and I) have done a few things to capitalize together, so it’s always nice to be with each other. With our busy schedules and stuff, it’s nice to actually have a day that we actually are like, ‘Wait a minute, we’re doing the same thing today.’

Q: What can people expect at your show?

A: It’s just very high-energy. I just like to have a really fun time. I like to mess around with the crowd. (I like to) kind of point people out (and) have a good time — nothing serious.

• Ellen, a junior studying at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is an intern for the East Valley Tribune. Contact her at (480) 898-6514 or

If You Go

What: Actress and singer Jana Kramer performs at Country Thunder. Other performers at the festival include Lady Antebellum, Eric Church, Lee Brice, Brantley Gilbert and Toby Keith.

When: Kramer is scheduled to perform 4 p.m. Friday, April 12. The festival runs Thursday, April 11, through Sunday, April 14.

Where: 20585 E. Price Station Road, Florence.

Cost: Single day tickets cost $35-$65 online and $70-$100 at the gate. A four-day weekend pass is $180 if purchased online or $220 at the gate.

Information: (866) 802-6418 or

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