Lately I've met with several young singers with dreams of becoming recording artists. Of course, they are wanting to know what do to in order to chase that dream. Unfortunately, it's rare to have someone in your hometown that understands the music business and knows how to guide you toward the goal of becoming a successful musician and recording artist.
In my humble opinion, there is nothing more valuable to a young performer than performing. Having experience in front of an audience invaluable. It helps you discover not only how to read an audience and please them, but it helps you discover yourself, and who you are as an artist. What styles/songs do you sound the best on? What styles/songs do you enjoy performing?
This also helps you build a catalog of songs that you know and can perform. Having this is a tremendous tool for when you need to perform for somebody and showcase your talent. It can also come in handy if you need to get a gig to make some money. Learn as many songs as you can. Know your keys!
I can hear your concern though, "But Scotty, how do I get performing opportunities in my tiny little town?" This is your challenge. There are musicians everywhere. You'll just have to research who's playing music in your area or surrounding areas. Try to find those with similar styles to what you're wanting to do, but learning and getting experience with multiple styles is never a bad thing. Find a guitar player or piano player to do some singing with. Find a small club that may not have live music yet, or has nights without entertainment, and work something out so you can come in one day a month and play a couple hours for tips. Sometimes you'll have to get creative to find your outlet, but it's important.
I just figured I'd post this since it seemed to be a common conversation for me lately. Hope this helps!