As Nan Kelley walked around on stage during Country Showcase run-throughs, she juggled notes that included information about each artist, what to say and what time to say it, and where to be when she said it. It was almost exhausting just to watch every stage transition and stair she climbed, but Kelley handled it all like a pro because that is exactly what she is.
After years of hosting “Opry Live!” and GAC’s “Top 20 Country Countdown,” Kelley was more than qualified to host Belmont’s Country Showcase. After practicing for the night’s show, Kelley took a break and shed some light on the talent, the industry and life.
As a seasoned GAC host, Kelley has seen a fair share of great artists in the music world, yet she still praised Belmont as “synonymous with great talent” and a place with a reputation for not only educating students about the industry, but also preparing them with field experience.
While watching Kelley during the rehearsals, it was evident with every bob of her head and widening of her smile that she enjoyed the students’ performances. As if that weren’t enough, she enthusiastically hopped on stage to encourage each performer after their set. “I am there to make the guests look their very best,” she said.
Making sure she was doing everything she could for the night to be the best it could be was what Kelley was all about. With plenty of experience in the music scene herself and one who pursued a personal music career, Kelley gave invaluable advice on making it in this industry.
The key to making it, she said, is having “passion to the core,” and “wanting it really badly.” With this type of career, there is always uncertainty, but “when you know that your passion is certain, then you know you’ve got something going for ya,” she said, her native Mississippi accent softy apparent.
She encourages those who want it to never quit, to be thick skinned, and to remember it is a business. “Whether you make it to [a] platinum record or not, you’re successful,” she said.
When it comes to life, Kelley has an incredible heart for people and touching them in big or small ways. As the daughter of a hairdresser, Kelley said she has the “gift of gab” and the ability to talk to anyone.
As a cancer survivor, Kelley learned first hand in the past year what a blessing it is to have good people in your life to support you in the hard times. While undergoing treatment, she said, “It was the biggest overwhelming feeling to know so many people were lifting you up and praying [for you].”