Images by Candace Ann Photography

Styling by AMaVo Boutique

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“I’ve known my whole life what I want to do,” said 24-year-old Elisabeth Hunstad.

It wasn’t until she was sitting in an entrepreneurial course at South Dakota State University that her professor validated her passion and dream of being a full time musician.

“[The professor] told us to imagine what we were doing when we were 3 years old to give us an indication of what we should be doing, and I was singing,” Hunstad said with her contagious smile. “I thought it’s my fate.”

In fact, at only 3 years old Hunstad was full-out entertaining. Her parents would host neighborhood barbeques, and Hunstad would jump at the chance to perform.

The singer recalled, “I’d go up on [my parents’] electrical box, make sure everyone was watching, and I’d sing and do my dance and say ‘everyone clap.’”

She continued with laughter, “Once everyone clapped, I was done.”

Little did she know she would go from a green electrical box with family and friends to the main stage of 2011’s JazzFest, which has been attended by nearly 1 million music lovers since its 1996 inception, according to the Sioux Falls Jazz & Blues Society.

“I was extremely honored,” said Hunstad about being offered the main stage slot after playing second stage last year.

The jump from stages is not too common, especially for how quickly it happened to Hunstad. But Sioux Falls Jazz & Blues marketing director Brienne Maner said there is no question that she deserves it. “She is a passionate, hard worker and is obviously a helluva singer.”

And Maner wasn’t kidding. Hunstad wowed audience members at last year’s festival when she belted her rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” (posted on the videos page), exemplifying her vocal range and her all-out comfort on stage. If you ever have watched Hunstad perform at any of the local venues like McNally’s Irish Pub or Latitude 44, it’s as if you can see that she lives and breathes music.  

And she just might. 

To see the rest of the cover story, pick up the July issue of 605 Magazine today at any of these locations! 

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