Artist: Sahara Smith

Sounds Like: Norah Jones meets Alison Krauss

Hometown: Wimberley, Texas

Why We Dig Her: The dusky voice, haunting melodies and deeply textured lyrics of Sahara Smith certainly belie her 22 years. The Austin-born singer was just 15 when she placed second in a contest for young songwriters on 'A Prairie Home Companion.'

"I'd been listening to [show host] Garrison Keillor since I was really tiny," Sahara told Austin's American-Statesman newspaper. "My parents would put on his monologues as a way to make me go to sleep. That's how soothing his voice and personality were."

Brought to the attention of famed producer T Bone Burnett, he called her "the best new artist I've heard in years."

The singer, who wrote her first poem by the time she was 3, had a poem published in the 'Anthology of Poetry for Young Americans' when she was in second grade. Her musical turning-point came, she acknowledges, when she first heard Simon & Garfunkel's 'Concert in Central Park' album.

At 12, Sahara made her live performance debut at an open mic night in her Texas hometown. She was soon performing at open mic nights and restaurants in the area and played bluegrass jams with another performer from Wimberley, Grammy-nominated musical prodigy Sarah Jarosz. Last month, Sahara made her network-TV debut with an appearance on the 'Late Show With David Letterman.' Watch her electrifying performance here, and watch her perform live at South by Southwest below.

In January 2011, Sahara will hit the road for her third cross-country tour (see dates below and find more information here).

Sahara, by the way, is so-called because her father hiccupped while suggesting the name "Sara" to her mother.

Sahara Smith 2011 Tour Dates

January 20 - 3rd and Lindsley, Nashville, Tenn.

Jan 21 - WorkPlay Theatre, Birmingham, Ala.

Jan 22 - Eddie's Attic, Decatur, Ga.

Jan 25 - The Southern Cafe and Music Hall, Charlottesville, Va.

Jan 26 - NightCat, Easton, Md.

Jan 28 - Ram's Head Tavern, Annapolis, Md. (with the Bacon Brothers)

Jan 29 - World Cafe Live Upstairs, Philadelphia, Pa.

Feb 1 - Living Room, New York City, N.Y.

Feb 2 - The Rock Shop, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Feb 3 - Club Cafe, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Feb 5 - Schubas Tavern, Chicago, Il.

Feb 12 - Cactus Cafe, Austin, Texas