Preview the artists and boot-tappin’ tunes coming to the Country Showcase stage
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Preview the artists and boot-tappin’ tunes coming to the Country Showcase stage

The stage is set, and four student artists will soon tune up their guitars, put on their Broadway best, and celebrate the craft of country music.

Belmont’s Curb College will host its annual Country Showcase on the lawn Saturday, featuring student lineup Trent Wayne, Gloria Anderson, Gracee Shriver and Faith Alexa.

Preview the music on the Vision’s 2021 Country Showcase playlist and read on to learn about the performers’ journeys into the world of country.

Though Trent Wayne is the only artist in the lineup without tracks on Spotify, showcase fans can check out his music on his Instagram or TikTok.

Food trucks open Saturday at 6 p.m., followed by a pre-show at 7 p.m. before the set kicks off at 8 p.m.

Trent Wayne

Belmont Vision / Margot Pierson

Hailing from Mississippi, country music is in Travis Wayne’s blood, and he’s been playing it since the fourth grade. 

“My brother had put together a little band, and by age nine, we played our first show,” he said.

The senior had been eyeing to play at the Country Showcase since his freshman year — now his time has come.

“I remember when I was a freshman and sophomore looking up at the showcase stage and just being like, ‘Yeah, I want to do that one day,’” he said. “Just to have been chosen is an honor, so I hope that I can do the same justice that I had done to me when I was a freshman.”

Wayne’s music serves as a reflection of the way he grew up.

Through the perception and dialect inked throughout his music, Wayne shares his own unique experience of what it means to grow up in the American south.

Wayne draws much inspiration from classic country stars like George Jones, Randy Travis and Keith Whitley.  

One song that he is excited to perform at the showcase is his opener, “Hankerin’ for a Honky Tonk.”

“I’m super pumped for that one. I think it shows off a lot of my roots. It’s got a lot of my Southern dialect in it and whatnot, and I’m really excited. It’s a good little boot-tappin’ song.”

Gloria Anderson 

Gloria Anderson

Gloria Anderson, a junior singer-songwriter, also took an interest in music from a young age.

“I started singing probably since I could talk, and then I took piano lessons when I was in the second grade,” she said. 

But Anderson ended up quitting piano, which may be her biggest regret, she said. Fortunately, she didn’t give up on music that easily.

“My dad ended up teaching me the guitar when I was a freshman in high school and somewhere in between there I started writing songs about things I saw outside of the car window.”

The part of the showcase that Anderson is most excited about is seeing her family, some of whom will come all the way from the Lone Star State to see her set.

“I’m from Texas, and being 13 hours away from home is kind of hard, but I’m just so excited to have my family and friends there.”

She is especially looking forward to showcasing her song “Households,” which hints at her experience of growing up as a military child constantly moving into new homes. 

“It’s mainly about what a house holds and what you can’t sell when you move past,” she said. 

“I moved all over, and I learned that the memories that you keep, you keep them with you no matter where you are, even if you’re not in the same place anymore. So that song is dear to my heart and I wrote it with two of my sweet friends.”

Gracee Shriver  

Grace Shiver
Belmont Vision / Margot Pierson

Gracee Shriver is no stranger to the stage.

A veteran performer of the Country Showcase whose name last appeared on the program just eight months ago, she performed for a Belmont audience over live-stream at the Curb Event Center.

 The sophomore songstress also made the Top 14 on NBC’s “The Voice” in 2019.

She is most excited to finally perform at Belmont with the energy of an outdoor stage and a live audience, she said.

Shriver grew up in Owasso, Oklahoma, where she started singing and playing guitar at 9 years old. 

She discovered shortly after that music was her passion and that she wanted to pursue it — and she knew from a young age that Belmont would help get her on the right track.

“When I graduated high school, I got my seventh grade letter back that I wrote to myself back then and it said that I was gonna go to Belmont University and major in music business, and it was kinda weird. I think I just always decided on it.”

Shriver is excited to play her 2020 release, “Rain,” a ballad she collaborated on with fellow Oklahoman act The Swon Brothers, as well as some new tracks she’s been working on.

“Some of my favorite songs haven’t even been released yet, but I’m playing them at Country Showcase so that’s gonna be exciting,” she said.

Faith Alexa

Belmont Vision / Margot Pierson

Faith Alexa, the other Texan to make her mark on the showcase stage this year, was destined for country music from the very beginning.

“My dad is a football coach, so we moved around Texas all the time, but my parents raised me on country music,” she said. “I’m partially named after Faith Hill, so it runs deep in my roots.” 

The junior was introduced to Taylor Swift at age 5 and draws much inspiration from the pop-country superstar. 

When visiting Nashville at 15 with her family, Alexa coincidentally ran into Sandy Borchetta — wife of Scott Borchetta, who discovered and signed Swift to Big Machine Records in 2005.

Borchetta advised Alexa to attend Belmont for college and intern anywhere she could in Music City, said Alexa. 

From then on, Alexa knew that Belmont was the school for her, and stepping into the spotlight at showcase is a bonus.

“I’m just excited to be on stage. That’s where I feel most like me and most at home so I’m excited to get to do what I love.” 

Some of the songs that Alexa will perform at the showcase are her recent singles, “Green” and “Pretty Eyes,” as well as her latest release, “North Carolina,” which has made its way to Spotify’s “Fresh Finds: Country” playlist and features the talents of fellow showcase performer Anderson.

“I’m really just excited to have camaraderie,” Alexa said. 

“Music always brings people together.”

PHOTO: The cover of the Vision’s 2021 Country Showcase playlist on Spotify. Graphic by Anna Jackson.

This article was written by A.J. Wuest.

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