By TONY MOORE
VISITING American country singing star Kata Hay was almost deported from Australia by immigration officials last week because she sang at the Tamworth Country Music Festival without a permit.
The 18-year-old rising yodelling and singing star told her story in Ipswich yesterday where she was a guest of the Coal City Country Music Club.
But she wasn't going to sing a note after the scare from the immigration department officials.
"They contacted me in Brisbane on Monday. A couple of their people had seen me when I was singing in Tamworth," she said.
"I didn't have the right performing visa. I don't know anything about the correct visas. But they understood that."
"So I can't sing, can't sign or sell anything."
Immigration Department working permits for artists are required to protect jobs for Australian artists.
Kata Hay was on her second trip to Australia for her second appearance at the Tamworth Country Music Festival last month.
The young star won America's Country Music Search competition in 1992 and an international yodelling competition in 2001.
Her current album, Cowboys, Guitars and a Little Bit of Swing, is now placed three in America's Country Music charts.
The Oklahoma singer spent yesterday afternoon as a guest of the Coal City Country Music Club at Booval Allsports on Brisbane Road.
If the strict immigration guidelines had been enforced to the letter, she could have been restricted from performing in Australia for three years, she said.
"I am grateful to them for understanding. I didn't know. They could have taken away my ability to sing over here for three years. I just didn't have a working visa."
She returns to the States this week, readying for a move to Tennessee to further her career.