IT'S been four years since former Gunnedah woman, Katrina Burgoyne, moved to the USA to follow her dreams, and the past year alone has provided her with more life changes than the whole four combined.
The country music singer-songwriter moved to Nashville in 2016 with just three suitcases and a guitar, and since then, she's faced COVID restrictions, a chronic illness, and a "devastated" income.
"I really struggled in 2018 from a chronic illness that would leave me with no voice to sing. I really believe the stress I endured in 2018 prepared me for 2020 and COVID," she told ACM.
"I'm only allowed to make money from music in the USA on my VISA. I have lost 60 per cent of my income.
"Venues where I would get paid and have a sound guy, have shifted to allowing me the stage for the night where I would bring in my own system and play for tips and a meal. I've shifted to offering songwriting sessions for up-and-coming songwriters for a fee, or write songs as a gift song."
Burgoyne wasn't able to come home for Christmas either. She hasn't been back in Gunnedah for two years now.
"To not get home for Christmas this year was heartbreaking. We had our big family Christmas which only happens every two years," she said.
"It was a strange Christmas for us. It was -7 degrees and we went to my boyfriend's parents for an outside social distance, no food, gift exchange. We ended up sitting inside across the room from each other with masks on.
"It was pretty devastating, but we had fun. I think we expected the worst so the day turned out way better."
She made the best of this entirely different situation, too.
"It was the first year I went and purchased a Christmas tree and decorated our house. We made some new family traditions," Burgoyne said.
"I woke up and put Christmas music on and we danced in the living room with our big German Shepherd. We even got a little bit of snow on the drive to my boyfriend's parents house."
Time's have been tough, but she's battling through.
"To be honest, the diversity and slow pace has made my heart really happy," she admitted.
Despite it all, she's loving life in the USA. It "finally feels like home" to her.
"It was a really challenging first few years for me, it taught me resilience like I've never known. I would have loved to have moved home and give up on this dream, but my pride made me stick it out and I'm really grateful for that," she said.
"I was just driving up i65 all the way to Chicago this week, I remember seeing the USA flag waving high across the interstate and saying to my boyfriend 'I remember when I first moved here, for me to be out here driving, it used to feel so foreign. Now I feel safe on these roads just the same as I used to feel driving from Gunnedah to Sydney'."
And she's been spending her time in lockdown well, writing and releasing new music and seeing their popularity build on the charts.
"Since July I've been releasing music. 25 Cents In The Ashtray came out in September along with a music video, and Tennessee had been out for a month and is starting to chart on the Australian Country Chart and is currently sitting at #37 on the Music Network chart," she said.
"Releasing music and building closer friendships with my supporters is my number one priority."
Anyone wanting to support Burgoyne through her music journey can jump onto Spotify and listen to her music.
"My business has become very 'start-up' style since COVID. My boyfriend and I do everything ourselves from music production, artwork, web design to music videos," Burgoyne said.
"Right now word-of-mouth makes the biggest impact when chips are down and there just isn't enough money to assist with publicity.
"If you would like to join my mailing list or connect with me over socials head to www.katrinaburgoyne.com."