NEW LONDON – Ava Hanson has been playing guitar and singing since she was 9 years old.

That’s when the New London-Spicer sophomore said she realized she could sing.

Audiences around west central Minnesota have also realized the 16-year-old can, indeed, sing.

She’s frequently booked to perform at community events, like the 2019 New London Music Festival, the Rib Fest and the Rockin’ Robbins summer outdoor music program in Willmar that draws crowds of several thousand people. She's also been a regular performer at the Glacial Ridge Winery in Spicer.

She’s scheduled to perform 3-6 p.m. Dec. 1 at O'Neil's in Spicer.

“Obviously, she’s talented,” said Michelle Olson, owner of O’Neil’s in Spicer, citing her reason for booking Hanson to perform there.

The popular restaurant, bar and entertainment venue also looks to book performers who draws crowds.

"It has to be something the public enjoys and has talent, and she has talent,” Olson said. “And she has lots of followers.”

Hanson is not fazed by the crowds and said performing is “just really natural and relaxed for me.” When she looks out into the audience she sees “people who are having fun with me.”

“She really draws people in. She wows them,” said Naomi Powers-Baker, the NLS choral director who’s had Hanson in choir since seventh grade.

“You can tell she loves it and has a passion for singing,” said Powers-Baker, adding that Hanson’s talent and confidence is paired with modesty and kindness that creates a unique performance package.

“It’s just really fun to do music,” Hanson said. “It’s pretty much my life.”