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FOLLOWING HER HEART
Altomare takes winding career path
Catherine Altomare
Using a powerful voice with a range of five octaves, Catherine Altomare sings a Christmas tune during Saturday’s open house at Carlson & Co. in Springfield. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

 SPRINGFIELD — It looked and sounded a lot like Christmas at Carlson & Co. on Saturday. 

The sound was beautiful, powerful and wide ranging. It was also sprinkled lightly with a sugary Southern drawl.  

Catherine Altomare, a local singer trying to make her way in the world of country music, was the source of the holiday feast for the ears. She recently released “Fields of Gold,” her debut single.

“We met while she was shopping in here,” Carlson said. “She is just a great person and very upbeat.”

After learning that Altomare has performed and recorded music in Nashville, Tenn., he asked her to participate in Saturday’s Carslon & Co. grand opening. She performed a pair of two-hour sets that featured a mix of Christmas and country tunes.

“She gave us a CD,” Carlson said. “When we started to listen to it, we were in shock. We just could not believe her music, her voice, her sound.

“It’s just a privilege and honor to have her to entertain here today. I think to have live entertainment in downtown Springfield is just great.”

Altomare, 25, has called the area  home for more than two decades, home for about two decades, splitting time between Savannah and an Effingham County farm.

“We’re actually Italian,” Altomare said. “My parents are from upstate New York but my dad was military so, after they retired, they came down South.”

Altomare was born in Maryland but has spent the bulk of her life in the Coastal Empire. She attended St. Vincent’s Academy in Savannah.

“My mom bought the Springfield property in the early 1990s,” Altomare said. “We would spend weekends on the farm, which was kind of like just a big lot back then. A lot has changed.

“We have a farm with two horses.”

Altomare, who has a five-octave range, impressed her parents and others with her voice when she was very young. Her first public performance was in a church when she was two or three years old.

“I guess I ate it up. I was a ham,” she said. “My mom said I looked natural.”

A chance meeting many years later with renowned producer Mike Borchetta, who discovered Tim McGraw and Glen Campbell, helped launch Altomare’s professional career. She was a teenager when she and her parents met him while looking to purchase a horse trailer in Ocala, Fla.

Borchetta was shown a “snippet” of Altomare singing an opera song in Italian and she was on her way, gaining recording opportunities as a result.

Altomare’s path took an unexpected turn when COVID-19 started to blanket the world. The pandemic greatly reduced musical opportunities in Nashville.

“I came home and decided to try to make my name here where I am based,” she said. “That’s what we’ve been doing.”

Altomare has been sharing her music online and through “virtual radio takeovers.”

“That’s really exciting because these radio hosts are helping us because we are struggling,” Altomare said. “As musicians, everybody is on the same level.”

Altomare has struggled in another way, too. Her father, Nick, died after a seven-year cancer battle in 2018.

“My first single is dedicated to him,” she said. “It did play at his celebration of life so it’s a very emotional and special song to me.” 

Altomare’s father was a big fan of country music, which influenced her because she is “a Daddy’s girl.”

“He came down South and fell in love with it,” she said. “He loved George Strait. He loved Tim McGraw. He would always listen to country music so I was around it a lot.

“I love all kinds of music but country music really pulls on the heartstrings.”

Altomare’s musical inspirations include Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood. Swift was discovered by Scott Borchetta, Mike Borchetta’s son.

“I just thought, ‘(Swift) is only fourteen years old and she is going to every radio station and giving  them her CDs,’ ” Altomare said. “ ‘She’s getting ‘yeses’ and she’s getting ‘nos’ but she is hungry and she is going at it.’ I decided, ‘I want to do this.’ ”

 Altomare, who enjoys song writing and collaborates with composers in Savannah and Nashville, has performed at Nashville hot spots Alley Taps and Sammy B’s. Other highlights for the Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus member include serving as the featured vocalist at the National Italian American Foundation DC Gala. She also tried out for “The Voice” and ‘The X Factor.”

“I did everything I could do to get experience,” Altomare said, “but that kind of got cut short because my dad was diagnosed with cancer during that time and I wanted to stay home, and shortly thereafter my mom was diagnosed with cancer.

“... I wanted to stay with my parents and it was the best decision I ever made.”

Although Altomare’s efforts have been sidetracked a time or two, they have never been derailed.  

“I just hope to continue to make more music and when COVID-19 lifts to be back in Nashville recording, networking and singing with my friends who are in bands,” she said. “It’s a fun place to be. The problem is that everyone is talented there and it is very hard to break through.

“You really have to know the right people and, like any business, the music industry is pricey so there comes to a point of needing a sponsorship.”

Altomare is eager to return to the studio to create more music.

“Nothing can beat it,” she said.

Altomare is available to perform at all types of functions. Hear her sing “Fields of Gold” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkNn9iQYIh0.