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When country singer-songwriter Liz Carlisle takes the microphone in Albuquerque at the end of July, she won't have her guitar with her. That's because this stop on the Big Dreams Tour isn't a concert - it's a speech. Liz is the keynote speaker for the Arabian Horse Association's Youth Nationals, a competition that draws over a hundred high achieving teenagers from the U.S. and Canada.

"This part of my career has just grown naturally," Liz explained. "We didn't say, 'hey, we should do a speaking tour.' But I was very honored when the AHA asked me to do this, and I look forward to many more opportunities to speak to audiences of all ages, especially young people."

Chosen as the undergraduate speaker at her Harvard Commencement last year, Carlisle has been speaking in public almost as long as she has been singing. "I remember entering the declamation contest in the fifth grade and delivering my piece in front of the whole auditorium," Liz said. "It was 'Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes'."

These days, Liz's words from the podium (like those in her music) are her own. She talks about what she learned as a public school kid from Montana who went to Harvard and then struck out on her own as an independent singer-songwriter.

"When I talk to teenagers, I try to be really honest with them, especially about my mistakes or failures, where I felt like I could have done something different," Liz says. "It's not helpful to have a role model if she's not real."

So what does Liz have to say? "The main thing I want to encourage kids to do is take care of themselves, physically, mentally, and spiritually," she says. "I think the hardest work of our lives - and the biggest achievements - happen internally. Once you get out of your own way and really get to know yourself, the rest is easy."

Liz's AHA address is entitled "There's Only One You." Liz plans to make appearances in a number of schools later this year, in between concerts with Lonestar, Billy Currington, Phil Vassar, The Wreckers, and Heartland.