Acclaimed country producer James Stroud has a new label with a new musical protégé. Stroud, who has worked with a who's-who list of stars including Toby Keith, Lorrie Morgan and Willie Nelson, began his own record company, Stroudavarious Records, back in 2008. Now he's launching a new imprint, Emrose Records, signing Margaret Durante as its flagship artist.

Born and raised in Potomac, Maryland, Margaret began singing in high school. She went to Clemson University in South Carolina but dropped out to move to Nashville after getting a call most budding singers only dream of -- from famed pop producer Tommy Mottola (Carly Simon, Diana Ross, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey).

"I got some of my demos to him, and he liked what he heard enough to meet with me," Margaret tells Maryland's Gazette newspaper. "Shortly after auditioning for him in New York, he agreed to be my manager -- he thought I had a future in music."

Mottola introduced Margaret to fellow producer Stroud, who was equally impressed.

"Margaret has one of the most unique voices in our genre today," says Stroud. "Her skills as a vocalist are second to none. She's one of the best in interpreting a lyric and she fills it with emotion. She's just a great artist."

Previously signed to Universal Republic, Margaret released a single to radio last year -- 'Use Somebody,' a remake of the Grammy-winning rock hit by Kings of Leon. (Watch the video below.) But in spite of her rock and pop influences, the 22-year old says her heart is set on country music. "I listened to a lot of country growing up based on what my mom would play around the house," she explains. "It probably planted that seed in my head."

Margaret's new single, 'Mississippi's Crying,' will hit country radio later this month. Her full album is scheduled for a fall release.

if(typeof AOLVP_cfg==='undefined')AOLVP_cfg=[];AOLVP_cfg.push({id:'AOLVP_2517129044','codever':0.1,'autoload':false,'autoplay':false,'displaymnads':true,'playerid':'89761511001','videoid':'74999048001','width':476,'height':357,'playertype':'inline','stillurl':'dynamic','videolink':'#','videotitle':'dynamic','videodesc':''});

More From TheBoot