A local teen singer who secured a semifinalist spot in the Pigeon Forge Path To Fame talent competition earlier this year will compete in the final round this month.
Grayson Thurman, 18, auditioned for the competition in Lexington at the Lyric Theatre in March. Each participant had to sing 90 seconds of a song of their choice. Thurman chose “Honesty” by Billy Joel.
He said that he will sing the song in Pigeon Forge on the day of the competition, Saturday, June 22, along with two other songs, but he has not chosen them yet. He has a time limit of three minutes for each song.
“I enjoy singing and thought it would be a good experience,” Thurman said.
The grand champion of Path to Fame will receive a year of monthly consultations with John Alexander, the Nashville talent executive who discovered Grammy-nominated artist Kelsea Ballerini, according to a press release. The prize also includes a consultation with country artist Carly Pearce, a professional photography and videography session, media training and introductions to other entertainment industry executives and more to “help the winner advance his/her/their career.”
Regardless of Path To Fame’s outcome, Thurman will be in Nashville this fall as a freshman at Belmont University, which was his top choice of college for a long time. He will major in commercial music, which is music heard on the radio, and minor in music business, although he might later plan to pursue a double major. Thurman said the school’s alumni and network opportunities were factors in his decision to attend the school. Belmont alumni include country stars Brad Paisley, Trisha Yearwood, Florida Georgia Line and more.
“This is what I want to do for a career,” Thurman said.
Thurman began playing guitar when he was 12 years old but got into singing when he was 14 and a freshman in high school. He was part of Franklin County High School’s choir all four years. He made the Kentucky Music Educators Association’s All-State Choir every year as well. He also attended summer programs at Belmont frequently and the selective Grammy Camp for vocal studies, he said.
His love for music came to him through his family, Thurman said. His dad played a lot of music from artists like the Beatles when Thurman was younger and his grandfather started buying him vinyl records after he saw his grandfather’s collection. Thurman's influences include the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Johnny Cash, Ed Sheeran and more.
“Basically all across the board, I’m influenced by it all,” he said.
Raye Hurley, FCHS choir director, said she started working with Thurman when he was a freshman at FCHS and he auditioned for All-State Choir. Later that year, Thurman auditioned for the school’s performance of “The Little Mermaid” and got the role of Prince Eric as a freshman, she said. One of his strong suits is his range, which can reach high notes that many high school boys cannot hit, Hurley added. Thurman also has a dedicated work ethic and always strives for perfection.
He got into a very competitive program at Belmont, she said, where he will continue to grow and learn about techniques like stage presence. Hurley said that she would not be surprised to see Thurman as a successful performer in the future and that participating in a competition like Path To Fame can bring him closer to that goal.
“I always tell my students, ‘Any audition you go to makes you a better performer.’”