Country music star performs with zest

Mike Linn

Jessica Andrews offered a fresh step, an innocent smile and a dash of youthful energy at Wednesday’s concert at Eastern new Mexico University. Not to mention a few country hits here and there.
The 20-year-old country star performed for an estimated 1,500 students and fans at ENMU’s Campus Union Ballroom, where she waltzed across stage like a pop star and sang with a slight hint of country twang.
“She sings from the heart; she sings real,” Portales resident Tasha Riley said before the show.
Riley said she’s been a fan of Andrews since she first came out, when the young musician won the “ 1999 Top New Female Vocalist of the Year,” award from the Academy of Country Music.
Andrews opened with “There’s More to Me than You,” a country hit prompting some fans to jump up for a better view and one guy near stage to wave his cowboy hat in approval.
Much like Pat Green, the country musician who played at Eastern last semester, Andrews has a difficult time classifying music in any particular genre.
“I wish we didn’t have a format (of music) to belong in,” Andrews said before the show. “What I do on my records is what I like to do. It’s probably what I’m going to be doing for a long time.”
The majority of the crowd were university and high school students. Some were big fans. Others said they had never heard her music before.
“I’m always looking for new (musicians) to listen to,” 20-year-old Michael Riley said.
Five-year-old Brittany Kanmore doesn’t remember when she began listening to Andrews, but it’s been a while, she said.
Kanmore, who said her favorite Andrews’ tune is “Karma,” said she won a backstage visit with the young musician.
Andrews, who sandwiched her Portales concert between shows in Phoenix and Denver, also appealed to Jordan Morgan, a 9-year old who described the music as “really pretty.”
Andrews, whose music has earned her guest spots on the “Tonight Show” and “Live with Regis & Kathy Lee,” said she didn’t get much time to see Portales, other than a short visit to Wal-Mart Wednesday afternoon.
“(Portales) is sort of small, but I think it’s nice I really do,” she said.