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Next time you visit one of the dinner shows in Pigeon Forge, be sure to pay attention to the names of the performers, because they might just be superstars in the making! Kata Hay has been making waves as a contest on The Voice, the popular singing competition on NBC. Before she made it onto one of TV’s most watched shows, Hay was a performer at some of the best Pigeon Forge TN dinner shows. Read on to learn all about Kata Hay’s musical roots in the Smokies.
Update: Kata Hay Eliminated
We are sad to report that Kata Hay did not make it to the top 12 round of The Voice. On the April 13 episode of the show, Hay was eliminated along with 11 other contestants. Before the live results show, Kata posted the following on Instagram:
“No matter what happens tonight. I’m so thankful for my journey. And will always adore @xtina (Christina Aguilera) for helping me find me, and be okay with what I found. Best experience of my life. Love you all!”
You can watch Hay’s final performance, a soulful rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman”, here:
A Decade in Pigeon Forge
Kata Hay moved to Pigeon Forge when she was 18 years old to break into the area’s dinner theater scene. Hailing from Oklahoma, Hay already had an impressive resume before she arrived in the Smokies. At age 5, she became the youngest person to ever win Ed McMahon’s Star Search. Hay was also a champion yodeler in her youth, taking first place in five international competitions.
Kata’s first job in Pigeon Forge was at the Fiddler’s Feast Dinner Theater, which is no longer in existence. Next, Hay joined the pre-show band at Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede and performed there for a year. With her impressive yodeling, Hay was undoubtedly a great fit for the country and bluegrass stylings of Mountain Ruckus, the opening act at Dixie Stampede.
Hay’s biggest gig in Pigeon Forge was the four years she spent at the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show. As the lead actress and singer for the Hatfield family, Kata performed hundreds of shows for vacationing families from around the country. Hay credits her time in Pigeon Forge for making her a better singer, telling the Knoxville News Sentinel that “theater…was definitely good for me to learn discipline as a performer.”
After ten years of performing at Pigeon Forge TN dinner shows, Hay made the decision to move to Nashville to pursue her own music career. Deciding to leave the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show wasn’t easy. In her interview with the News Sentinel, Hay said that singing at the Hatfield & McCoy show “was the most fun job I’ve ever had” and that co-owners David Fee and Jim Hedrick “were the most amazing bosses.”
Ultimately, Kata decided to move on because she was in her late 20s, and she felt that her window of opportunity for making it in the music industry was closing. After her relocation to Nashville, Hay tried out for The Voice and made it onto the show. It was her fiery rendition of “Redneck Woman” during her blind audition that prompted Adam Levine, Pharrell Williams, and Christina Aguilera to turn their chairs around, signaling that they all wanted Kata on their team. Hay chose Aguilera to be her coach, and she has continued to wow as the season progressed.
You can watch Kata (with the red hair) perform with fellow Voice contestant Chelsea Gann in this clip from the show:
A Return to the Smokies?
While Kata is currently having a blast on The Voice, she isn’t ruling out returning to Pigeon Forge at some point in the future. Recalling her time at the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show, Hay said:
“I feel like I’ve always got that to go back to, but like I told them when I left, because they tried to get me to stay, I only have so long to do my own thing. I feel like I could do theater for another 30 years if they will still have me.”
Here at Visit My Smokies, we wish Kata the best of luck on The Voice! Whether she wins the competition or not, we would love to have her back in Pigeon Forge. If you want to keep up with Kata, be sure to tune in to The Voice, Mondays and Tuesdays at 8/7 p.m. Central on NBC.
Do you want to see Pigeon Forge’s up-and-coming talent for yourself? Check out the performers at the top five Pigeon Forge TN dinner shows!