Laura Bryna, a graduate of Glenelg High School and a budding country music artist, will open a concert tomorrow evening at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in a fundraising event for the United Cerebral Palsy of Central Maryland.
Bryna - a stage name taken from a grandmother - says that she is living a dream that is difficult for her to comprehend.
She remembers over a plate of hard-shell crabs years ago asking her stepfather, Thomas Mulitz of Mount Airy, what he fantasized as a child of becoming.
"What I said I wanted to do is what I am doing," says Bryna and who was known as Laura Mulitz in school. "How many people can say what they dreamt of doing is what they ended up doing?"
She has a recording contract with Equity Music Group, owned in part by county singer Clint Black, and her first single - "I Don't Have a Thing to Wear" - has just been released and an accompanying video is planned.
Bryna is on a national tour of radio stations, and will soon open for Larry Gatlin in New Hampshire and she is signed to perform at the industry's Country Music Association Music Festival, formerly Fan Fare.
But now, it is tomorrow's concert that has her attention because the fundraising event is close to her heart.
A close family friend has cerebral palsy, but Bryna says he never complains and demonstrates remarkable determination.
"His will to live is unbelievable," she says.
Bryna has been involved in other causes, particularly the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Her brother suffered a brain aneurysm several years ago and was hospitalized in a coma for more than six months.
While visiting him, Bryna saw the happiness of children when athletes and other celebrities visited them.
"Seeing my brother in the hospital [and] these people in life-threatening situations changes you," she says. "I remember the smiles these kids would get on their faces."
Since then, Bryna has done every chore imaginable. "I've met with families, worked the telephones, licked the envelopes.
"Everyone has dreams, and we need to help these kids."
In a tribute to the children, Bryna and her manager, Roger Sarchet, wrote a song - "Make A Wish" - that she will perform tomorrow.
While in high school, Bryna joined the summer drama workshop sponsored by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and was selected to be in the center's traveling teenager show, which taught children about prejudice.
Bryna graduated from Glenelg in 1997 and enrolled in The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, first majoring in theatre, then in voice.
She graduated in 2001 and drove directly to Nashville, she says.
She had become a country music fan while making frequent trips with her mother, Shelley, to the hospital to visit her brother. The car radio, Bryna said, was always set to a country station.
But, she says, country music reflects all aspects of life.
"The songs are about hope and pain and love - real-life events," Bryna says. "It's genuine."
Performers, including some of the biggest names in country music, have offered encouragement and freely given her advice, Bryna says.
"They really let us have some insight on what to expect, instead of being thrown to the wolves," she says.
Bryna doesn't discuss the prospects of celebrity, only of making a difference.
"I really hope that my music touches people. That it makes them laugh and makes them cry," she says. "If I've done that, then I've done my job."