Many have headed to Nashville, Tenn., with nothing but a guitar and a dream. And while some, like Garth Brooks and Faith Hill, were discovered there, many eventually leave country music's capital city never having realized their dreams.
Taylor Swift, Keith Lamb and Charlotte Medley are determined to see their dream of becoming a country music star come true.
"It's been what I've been living for my entire life," said the 14-year-old Swift, who moved to Nashville six months ago. Swift, who has been singing to anyone who would listen since she was 3 years old, says she knew she wanted to be a country music singer and songwriter after hearing LeAnn Rimes for the first time. Swift was in first grade.
"I was just dead set, that's what I'm going to be, I'm going to be like her," Swift said. "I'm always going to be so close to my family; I'm always going to love my friends; but number one is always going to be music, because it's just kind of always been a part of me. It's awesome."
Swift, a freshman in high school, says she practices and writes songs at home and in the studio for 30 hours each week.
"When I go through something, I have to write a song about it. I have to write a poem about it. Writing is everything to me," Swift said.
Luke Lewis, head of Mercury Records Nashville, the label that helped Shania Twain rise to superstardom, says that for every person who makes it in the country music business, there are thousands of dreamers who don't.
"Lot's of luck, talent, luck, stars have to line up. Great songs. Probably more than anything, great songs," Lewis said.
Keith Lamb moved to Nashville after he got his first thrill from a favorable audience reaction at 16 years old.
"My mom snuck me into a piano bar and I sang "The Dance" performed by Garth Brooks. And the place loved it," Lamb said.
These days, Lamb is a stay-at-home dad by day and a budding musician at night.
"It's difficult to juggle music and family, I'll tell you that, because when I leave at night to go play, and my boys are always like Daddy, don't leave. It just breaks my heart," Lamb said.
Charlotte Medley, a mother and a musician, moved her family to Nashville in search of her calling.
"I can't give up. Not in the face of my children. I mean, they're my biggest fans, and I want them to know that you can dream," Medley said.
Whether Medley is working on a new song or working at her day job selling flowers, she says her love for the music is what keeps her going.
"Music is like an unsatisfied lover. It's something that's passionate that you can't get enough of, and it can't get enough of you," Medley said.
Lamb says music will always be a part of his life, whether he hits it big or not.
"I've got a couple of songs published, so it's like I'm starting to make a move," Lamb said. "I'd never be able to give up music, it's in my heart, it's who I am."