She may look the part of the sometimes-stereotypical teen pop artist, but there's something different about Katy Hudson. Spend a few minutes listening to her music or honing in on what she has to say and you'll discover it, too.
"I never had dreams of becoming a Christian rock star," Hudson said. "But I realized what my calling was at a young age - I sort of felt it in my bones."
Hudson counts it as a privilege to know that God was willing to use her - even though she may be considered by some as too young to understand His power.
"Music had always been something I turned to as part of a healing process when something in my life seemed to go wrong," she said. "Through hardships and trials, with the Lord, I've always come out on top."
Hardships? Trials? Those may seem to be trivial words coming from an 17-year-old California girl, but dig deep into what's going on in most teens' lives today and it's easy to understand how Hudson has gained some experience - personally and through her friends.
"Yeah, I may not have all the problems of an adult," Hudson chuckles. "But I have issues with what's relevant in my life today. God has strengthened me to use those issues and trials to be a better person and a stronger witness for Him. It's an exciting process."
This preacher's kid attended Christian schools - and eventually was home schooled. She witnessed, and sometimes took part in the hypocrisy that takes place in Christian schools.
"No one's above it," she said. "It's really easy to think you're a Christian because of what you're learning or taught at home, and forget about the personal relationship aspect of it.
"Sometimes, I think Christian schools are more difficult than public schools."
During a short stint at public school, Hudson admits, "I was pretty rebellious-a typical 'P.K. (preacher's kid)' I suppose. I had gone to Christian schools all my life and when I faced public high school, I didn't exclude myself from the 'worldly kids.'"
Hudson admits to struggling with identity issues - finding herself in the midst of so many people. But she said she always tried to be herself.
"I tried to show love to everybody-not in an 'in your face, happy all the time' way, just keeping it real so that I could influence my friends in love... and in Christ," she said." Sometimes I wasn't a great witness, but I think I did make a positive impact on my peers by my actions."
And with graduation looming in the spring, she's the first to admit there's still a lot more she has to accomplish in her life.
The young Hudson likens herself to a piece of pottery that's still being molded and fashioned into a workable, usable vessel.
"I haven't been put into the furnace yet. God is teaching me to be honest, trustworthy and to listen closely to Him in all situations."
Hudson readily admits she really latched on to the idea of being a Christian at about 13.
"I had always believed in Christ," she said, "but I needed to be my own Christian - find my own faith - Ms. Katy Hudson as follower of Christ; not Mr. and Mrs. Hudson, Katy's parents. I really had to find myself. Sounds like a pretty deep journey for a 13-year-old. And really, it's not over yet."
These lessons come out beautifully in Hudson's Top 40 jams.
"I started writing songs when I realized that singing other people's lyrics was more an expression of their heart than mine," she said in a phone interview from her California home. "Writing for this album was very important to me. I felt I had been given a message and was supposed to voice it in my own words."
Her debut self-titled album is a fast frenzy of 10 songs written or co-written by this rambunctious teen.
The tunes display various degrees of growth in Hudson's personal life. A perfect example is "Trust Me," Hudson's first song-writing endeavor.
"I was feeling a little depressed at the time and was thinking about all the things I'd done wrong. I felt like I was oil and God was water, and I just wouldn't mix," she said. " I started writing about this and God placed a peace in my heart. I really felt He was saying, 'Don't worry child, trust in Me.'"
Hudson said writing this song helped her open her heart to God and allow for healing to take place.
"I just had to open my heart to the healing process," she said. "It's funny how sometimes we think that we can be so horrible that God would turn His back to His own. I guess we will never really understand His mercy until we see His Glory."
Whether it's songwriting or stepping on stage, Hudson desires to be open and real. She takes her calling seriously - and wants to be seen as an artist with something to share with the world.
Her message is pretty simple. People need God.
"I have really realized recently - after the Sept. 11 tragedies - that people not only want to be entertained, but they need encouragement," she said. "They need to know that knowing Christ in this crazy life makes a person feel protected and safe."
Hudson said her concerts since the terrorist attacks have taken a slightly different focus.
"I am a pretty wild and crazy girl," she said, laughingly. "But I have felt a need to tone it down a little and really, really help people connect with God - everyone's still grieving. I try to make sure that every time I open my mouth I am saying something that's worth hearing - every word counts."
In the midst of crazy circumstances, Hudson has risen to the occasion in her ministry, her life and in her walk with Christ. But she's still concerned about the smaller things in life.
"As much as I love what I am doing, I am trying to focus on being 17, making the most of these years in my life, and leading a normal existence," she said. "Just so happens that I get to stand on stage and sing."