“We are pulling the community together in every facet. What better way to do that but through art, music and entertainment,” said Joan Betros, Nashville Connection employee.
The Nashville Connection Heroes Salute came to Greenville, SC with four days full of events including workshops, competitions, entertainment and networking.
“It’s all about music, art and entertainment wrapped around full patriotism. That is why we do this. It’s to salute our gold star moms, our veterans, and military judges,” said Betros.
Apart from the entertainment the Nashville Connection bridges aspiring artists, that otherwise wouldn’t get the opportunities provided to those in the business. Participants get to showcase their talent and network with those in the business while creating stepping stones for them to become successful by giving them a leg up in the music industry.
Dave Brook, vocal coach, said, “Here’s what the Nashville connection does, we not only help develop talent, but we connect to people that are waiting, and there’s a lot of street credit there.”
Last year’s winner, Austin Webb, went to Nashville under Brook’s request. Brooks connected Webb with a producer and now Webb has a major publishing deal, record deal, and there are talks about a radio tour within the next three months.
“The fact that Webb was able to connect to the people that he did is a testament to what this production brings. (Webb) is now in an amazing position to do some great things,” said Brook.
Each workshop consisted of qualified professionals from Nashville, the Upstate, and other areas across the United States. Help and advice were abundant during the workshops that left participants with a great all-around experience.
Travis Smith, participant and winner of the Handlebar competition portion of the show, said, “There were so many great talents. What I love about the competition is it is one hand helping the next. They provided a whole lot of good stuff that was very helpful, like posing, stage techniques, and writing abilities. I met some great people.”
By participating in the event the instructors and coaches had fun and enjoyed the talent in the Upstate.
Roger Ryan, independent contractor and producer for After Touch Music out of Nashville, said, “I had a blast. There were a lot of talented people and I had a lot of fun. It’s really great and I’m coming back next year. There was some talent that needed developing, but there were some really, really talented people.”
The winners of the competitions went on to sing and be presented in front of the heroes salute with Darryl Worley and Martha Reeves. Winners also are awarded $25,000 in opportunity prizes.
Smith said, “The experience has been wonderful and the people have been wonderful. You run across genuine people that really want to help you improve your craft. That is what the Nashville connection did, and it’s for a good cause.”
Betros said, “Just to be able to bring Nashville here and to also pool them together with the very best from the Upstate and from some over the other areas in the United State it’s been a great pleasure for us.”
All events go to support the efforts of Vietnam Veterans and all Veterans programs, and the “Toys for Tots” drive.
The Nashville Connection and Heroes Salute Gala was held at the TD Center on Saturday night.
Local musicians, singers, and writers competed among themselves in several talent contests all day Saturday and the judges selected a Top Singer, a Top Songwriter and Best Band Group.
The winners were announced Saturday night at the Gala.
The band that was judged the Best was “The Dead Fields.” Jacob Johnson was judged Best Singer. He played the guitar and sang one of his songs. Jay Edwards was judged “Best Songwriter” and he also played the guitar and sang the song he had written.
A special part of the program was the “Heroes Salute” video presentation of interviews with Greenville area World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, and Gulf War Veterans.
Lt. Colonel Mike Corrado, USMC, currently on active duty and a nationally-recognized singer-songwriter wrote the song “Still in the Fight” as a way to draw attention to the struggles many servicemen and women face after being wounded in combat. The song is dedicated to our wounded warriors who have sacrificed so much for their country. Mike performed this song as background music for a video presentation filmed at Arlington National Cemetery featuring three Marines who had been wounded in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Tony Dale, a local investment and retirement planning consultant, was Master of Ceremonies.
Martha Reeves performed the song “Heat Wave,” because of the triple-digit temperatures the Greenville Area experienced on Saturday.
Country Music recording artist and singer Darryl Worley performed several of his hit songs including the one the audience enjoyed hearing again, “Have You Forgotten,” written after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on this country.
Martha Reeves returned to the stage and lead the audience in the singing of “God Bless America.”