Photo courtesy of Halle Johnson

“I’ve lived in more cities than I care to admit,” says singer-songwriter Halle Johnson, “but I’ve been living in Long Beach for about five years now and I love it.”

While she may be relatively new to the city, the young Johnson will be representing Long Beach Saturday when she competes in Guitar Center’s Search for the Next Great American Songwriter competition, one that will be judged by Grammy-award winning producer Don Was.

Johnson began her singing career in opera at the age of 12. After a three-year hiatus, she began to sing again, and eventually lead herself to performances at L.A. Live’s Grammy Museum, Musician’s Institute in Hollywood and at Long Beach’s 2013 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Festival.

“I love Joss Stone, Alex Boyd, and Tyrone Wallace,” Johnson says of her influences. And after hearing her powerhouse submission video on YouTube, laced with chill-worthy notes, it’s no doubt that Johnson has the potential to be just as successful as her favorite artists.

Guitar Center’s contest was open to singer-songwriters ages 16 and over who could write and perform an original song. Johnson turned in her entry video a week before the deadline and three weeks later was told she was a finalist.

“Guitar Center Corporation called me and left a voicemail, and I was too scared to listen to it that I called my mom first,” she says.

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After a much-needed pep talk, Johnson listened to the message and discovered she would be performing for a chance to win a four-song EP, $25,000, new recording equipment, a guest spot on Guitar Center’s podcast with Nic Harcourt, a feature in American Songwriter Magazine, recording time at the Converse Rubber Tracks Studio in NYC and world-wide music distribution from TuneCore.

But the most nerve-wracking part for Johnson isn’t performing for judges—it’s that she has yet to meet any of her competitors. The songstress will be seeing them for the first time on Saturday as they each perform for Don Was as they attempt to take home the title.

If she wins, Johnson plans to use the winnings to enroll in Musician’s Institute, a technical school for musicians. And in the meantime, she has put focus not on getting ready, “but being ready.” Tomorrow, she’ll put her talent to the test.

Watch Johnson’s entry video below: