WHO'S NEW: CATHERINE BRITT
ON THE CHARTS: "THE UPSIDE OF BEING DOWN"
HOMETOWN: NEWCASTLE, NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA
INFLUENCES: HANK WILLIAMS, DOLLY PARTON, LORETTA LYNN
Not yet 20, Catherine is already a star in her native Australia and has made at least one very influential fan: pop legend Elton John, who compares the teenage Aussie to Patsy Cline, helped her find a U.S. record deal and pronounced himself "thrilled" to sing a duet on her upcoming American debut. But then, she got an early start - inspired by her dad's American country record collection, Catherine was performing at age 11 and recording by 14. "I'm obsessed with music," she says. "It's my whole life. I listen to music, I read biographies, I read country music history." She's already made some history of her own - in July 2003 she became the youngest Australian ever to sing on the Grand Ole Opry. She'll get the chance to make a little more history when her new album, which also features guests shots from Kenny Chesney and Hank Sr. pedal-steel guitar player Don Helms, is released early next year.