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Laurel Wright at Steve Wildsmith

Steve Wildsmith

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Archive for the ‘Laurel Wright’ tag

Laurel Wright: Next stop, The Ryman!

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Just call her the little country singer who could.

After telling you about Laurel Wright and her performance last Thursday at Cotton Eyed Joe in West Knoxville as the state winner of the Texaco Country Showdown competition, we’re proud to announce that after Thursday’s performance, she walked away with the Northeast Regional Title, as well as an all-expense paid trip to the National Final of the 30th annual event, scheduled for Jan. 26, 2012, at the fabled Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

Here’s more information from the official the press release: Cotton Eyed Joe hosted the event and showcased seven other acts, which had won their local and state competitions. They were: Abby, Emily & Claypool Block (Indiana-WIFE- Connersville), Emily Kinner (Kentucky-WTCR- Huntington), Kelly Parker Band (New England-WQCB- Brewer), Bekah Bradley (Ohio-WZOM- Defiance), Bria Kelley (West Virginia-WKDE- Altavista), Matt Keiter (Pennsylvania- WJUN-Mexico), and T.J. Murphy (New York-WUUF-Newark).

“Before advancing to the state level, Laurel Wright won her local competition representing WIVK in Knoxville. Laurel Wright started singing at age 4 in and around east Tennessee. At age 10 she started playing the guitar and wrote her first song. This 16-year-old singer/songwriter received the highest judges’ scores at the Northeast Regional Final. Laurel Wright performed two original songs, ‘Can’t You See’ and ‘Everything.’

As one of the five Regional Winners from across the country Laurel Wright will compete for $100,000 and the coveted National Title, “Best New Act in Country Music” at the world-famous Ryman Auditorium on January 26, 2012.”

Already, Laurel is in good company — past local, state and regional winners include Martina McBride, Garth Brooks, Miranda Lambert, Neal McCoy, Sara Evans, Brad Paisley and Billy Ray Cyrus.

Written by wildsmith

November 8th, 2011 at 8:34 am

Laurel Wright headed to Texaco Country Showdown regionals on Thursday

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After winning the Knoxville competition and mopping up at the state level, local teen country singer Laurel Wright is set to compete in the regionals of the Texaco Country Showdown on Thursday night at Cotton Eyed Joe (11220 Outlet Drive in West Knoxville). A win will send her on to the finals, which will be held at the mother church of country music, the hallowed Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

“That would be awesome!” Wright told The Daily Times this week (between breaks from her homeschooling in rural Blount County, where she lives with her wonderful parents, Ronnie and Lori, and her sister, Lindy. “That’s always been my dream, to play at the Ryman.”

The win would also give Wright, last seen on the local stage at the Foothills Fall Festival, a chance to go for some national spotlight. The showdown is billed as “the largest country music talent search in America … designed to find the most promising country music talent and give these performers a chance to launch their professional music careers.”

The grand prize also includes $100,000, which would go a long way toward jump-starting Wright’s career (which has gotten quite a boost from local country radio giant WIVK-FM). She’s working on her debut album with local Mojo Recording Studios owner Lewell Molen out at his headquarters in Greenback, and Molen will back up Wright at the Showdown. They’ll have seven minutes to impress the judges, and Wright plans to give her all to two of her originals, “Can’t You See” and “Everything.”

“It’s just been a great experience, and I’m not nervous — but I probably will be whenever I get up to go on stage,” she said. “Lewell said that if you don’t get at least a little nervous before you sing for people, you should probably stop doing it, because you’re not having fun.”

Everything gets started at 6 p.m. Thursday night (Nov. 3) at the Joe; admission is only $5, and Wright hopes to see as many familiar faces cheering her on as possible.

Written by wildsmith

November 2nd, 2011 at 2:39 pm

John Titlow Band, Laurel Wright go head-to-head tonight at Cotton Eyed Joe!

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The Texaco Country Showdown continues tonight at Cotton Eyed Joe (11220 Outlet Drive in West Knoxville), and after the boys in Blount/Monroe County band Southbound won the first round of competition on July 21, two more Blount County music acts are set to go head-to-head tonight.

It’s be a bit of a lover’s quarrel, albeit a professional (and friendly) one — local teen country singer Laurel Wright will compete against the boys in the John Titlow Band — which includes her boyfriend, Zach Long, on bass.

“It’s gonna be really different,” Titlow admits, pointing out that his band and Wright have shared the stage many times for various benefits and concerts — but never as rivals.

“They’re already saying it’s rigged!” Wright jokes about her beau’s group.

In all seriousness, both are fine representatives of Blount County in the competition, which gives them a chance to go for some national spotlight. It’s billed as “the largest country music talent search in America … designed to find the most promising country music talent and give these performers a chance to launch their professional music careers.”

Tonight is the final of three rounds of competition (the Greylan James Band won the contest last Thursday, July 28), and the three winners will compete on Thursday, Aug. 11, for the championship and the opportunity to compete nationally for $100,000. (And, we’re obliged to point out, the JTB and Wright are the only competitors tonight; there are three other country artists going up against them.) The competition starts at 9:30 p.m., and ladies get in free (admission is $5). It’s all ages, but for those 21 and older, there will be free pitchers of beer served.


Regardless of who wins (although we’re obviously pulling for the Blount County faction — both of them), it’s a feather in the cap of both groups. Wright is about to get busy in the studio, making an album with local Mojo Recording Studios owner Lewell Molen out at his headquarters in Greenback. She’s still talking from folks to Nashville, and who knows what those conversations may bring, but for now, fans of her music should be glad they’ll finally have an album in hand.

“We just decided it the other day,” Wright said. “Me and Lewell talked about it, and if we do one now, if somebody wanted to sign me later we’ll already have it done.”

Deciding what to put on it will be the hard part — she has 40 or 50 original songs and continues to write more (including “Can’t You See,” her latest, about “a boy being wrapped around my finger,” she said with a smile). That’s a Herculean effort given that she’s also a homeschooled high school junior doing her best — and succeeding — to enjoy her teenage years.

“I think everything is balanced good right now,” she said. “I feel really blessed.”


Speaking of new albums, the John Titlow Band is working on an acoustic record the guys hope to have out in late fall, Titlow said.

“We’re still working on some of it; it’s completely new material, and we have some really good songs,” he said. “I’m really proud of what we’re doing. It seems like the second go-around is going a lot easier and better than the first.”

Fans may have noticed that the band is getting out a lot more these days — after getting in with Copper Cellar, the John Titlow Band has been popping up at the various Smoky Mountain Brewery/Calhoun’s Restaurant locations around East Tennessee.

“It’s just exploded in the last six months. Things are really going good for us,” said Titlow — who was called on stage by up-and-coming country star Bradley Gaskin on Wednesday night at Cotton Eyed Joe to sing Gaskin’s hit, “Mr. Bartender.”

Assuming one of the two acts wins tonight, they (or she) will be in good company, given Southbound’s win on the 21st. And it’s proof that there are some extremely talented country musicians right here in our backyard. There’s a reason for that, according to Jason Harris of Southbound.

“We remember where we come from, and the way you live gets into your writing,” Harris said. “You write music that your neighbor can say, ‘I know exactly how that old boy — or old girl — feels. They relate to that music.

“Being a part of (the showdown), it just felt great to be recognized and have the opportunity to be able to go on to the next (level). And to have the opportunity to get national recognition out of this whole thing is just an added bonus itself.”

Written by wildsmith

August 4th, 2011 at 11:22 am

Laurel Wright (and some Sisters) get the Opry treatment

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march 12,2011 bsfo

Take a look at that there poster and you’ll see that Blount County is well-represented on the list of this weekend’s inductees into the Big South Fork Opry. The organization, a nonprofit group that provides instruments for students, is holding its final show on Saturday, March 12, at Crossville’s historic Palace Theater, 72 S. Main St., and two Blount County ladies of music are on the bill.

First up is Rhonda Whiting, one of the lovely Sisters of the Silver Sage, those lovely ladies of Blount County’s Wildwood community who have made a name for themselves playing Western music around these parts over the years. The sisters recently released a new video for the song “Seek Higher Ground” (watch it here) and will host Marshal Andy’s show on Sunday, March 27, at Bearden Banquet Hall in Knoxville.

Several other performers will be at the Crossville Palace on Saturday night, but the only other one that gets us excited is the pretty and talented Laurel Wright, who’s quickly becoming a Blount County musical ambassador, among other things. We last caught up with her in December, when she and the John Titlow Band were playing a benefit show at Foothills Mall, and we’re pleased to report she hasn’t slowed down in the least.

After this weekend, the Big South Fork Opry is moving venues, to The Princess Theater in downtown Harriman, and Wright will be a regular member of the cast (along with the Sisters, from what we understand). Saturday’s show begins at 7 p.m., and admission is $10.

In other news, Wright is one of the first confirmed acts for the upcoming Daystar Music Festival, taking place from noon to 9 p.m. April 16 on the World’s Fair Site in downtown Knoxville as part of the Dogwood Arts Festival. No word yet on other performers; we’ll keep you posted.

Relay For Life comes with some live music this year

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The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life takes place this weekend on the Maryville College campus, and with the event is a chance for you to (a) get involved in a worthy cause and (b) see some great live music.

According to the national website, “The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease. At Relay, teams of people camp out at a local high school, park, or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. Because cancer never sleeps, Relays are overnight events up to 24 hours in length.”

The Blount County chapter will kick things off on the Maryville College campus, and to entertain the Relayers, organizers have booked some live music for the event. Here’s this weekend’s schedule:


  • 4:30 p.m.: gospel artist Dave Seratt
  • 7 p.m.: soul/R&B band Smooth Groove


  • 11 a.m.: Pistol Creek Catch of the Day
  • 1:15 p.m.: country artist Laurel Wright

According to a statement from organizers, “These performers are generously lending their talents to support the efforts to fight cancer and celebrate and remember those who have battled it.”

This year’s Relay runs from 3 p.m. to midnight on Friday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Check out the Blount County chapter’s Facebook page.

Written by wildsmith

May 19th, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Tangerine Jam for R.A.M.

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A new salon in Maryville, Tangerine’s, is combining its grand opening festivities on Saturday with some live music and a good cause. It kicks off at noon, and a portion of all the proceeds from the refreshments and the services will benefit Remote Area Medical, an organization that’s been in the news all week for the free health care clinics the organization recently held in Los Angeles. (It’s an East Tennessee-based organization, by the way.)

Performers for the event include Robby Bratta, Kendall Ross, Laurel Wright, SevenDayBeliever and Mike Thomas. It lasts until 8 p.m. and is free to attend. Tangerine’s is located at 1104 W. Broadway Ave. in Maryville, where the old Cranberrie’s salon used to be located. Call 977-4446 for more information, or visit Tangerine’s on Facebook.

Written by wildsmith

April 28th, 2010 at 11:45 am