Dreams come true. Just ask Alvarado country singer/songwriter Andrew Sevener.
The then little known now highly sought after musician paid scant heed when opportunity knocked two years ago courtesy of Nashville Lights.
“I mean I went in intending to give it my best but really, a friend tagged me in Facebook about this and I just thought it would be cool and fun and a way to meet other local musicians,” Sevener said in 2017 of his open mic audition for the opening spot of Cleburne’s annual Nashville Lights concert.
The concert, held each October at the Cleburne Conference Center, raises money for the Cleburne Education Foundation, an organization that supports Cleburne ISD educational needs and programs through grants. Nashville Lights, now in it’s seventh year, brings established Texas and Nashville singer/songwriters to the Cleburne stage to share the stories behind and perform the hits they’ve penned for artists ranging from Kenny Chesney to Blake Shelton.
Concert organizer Peter Svendsen, a 40-year veteran of the music industry, previously chose the opening act before hitting on a different approach two years ago.
“I thought it would be fun to have open tryouts kind of like doing “American Idol” in Cleburne where the acts would perform and the judges would pick one to be our opening act that year,” Svendsen said. “I figured there was probably a lot of talent in and around Johnson County and we’ve certainly found that to be the case. Plus it’s a lot of fun to hear all the musicians who come out to audition for the opening spot.”
The judges chose Sevener, 23, from the nine who auditioned that first year and he went on to open the October 2017 edition of Nashville Lights. He went on to appear on NBC’s “The Voice” where he finished fourth runner up this past season.
Svendsen, in 2017, predicted great things for Sevener.
“And here he is two years later having excelled on national TV and in high demand,” Svendsen said.
Sevener returns to this year’s Nashville Lights lineup only this year he’s pegged as one of the featured Texas artists.
“If it happened to Andrew it could happen again,” Svendsen said. “So we’re wanting to see a lot of contestants come out and sing for this year’s open mic.”
Participation is free. The open mic runs 7-9 p.m. Aug. 6 at Plaza Theatre’s Dudley Hall, 305 S. Anglin St. The event is also open to the public. Tickets are $10.
Last year’s winner, Ashley Bradberry of Cleburne, said she was completely shocked when the judges chose her.
“God just laid it in my path and it turned out to be a wonderful experience,” Bradberry said.
Bradberry encouraged area budding musicians to follow her lead and take a chance.
“I saw just do it and see what happens,” Bradberry said. “If I hadn’t taken that risk last year I never would have met so many other cool songwriters and musicians and had the great experiences and very cool memories. So definitely, nothing ventured nothing gained. Give it a shot.”
“It’s fun first of all,” Svendsen said. “And it’s not only that you stand a chance to be picked as our opener. You also get heard by people in the music industry and get a chance to meet other area musicians.”
CEF Executive Director Paige Harris said the tryouts have grown into its own event.
“It’s fun just to hear all the different musicians and it’s grown bigger each year,” Harris said. “I’m hoping this will be the biggest year yet. It’s amazing the amount of talent in the area.”
To enter the contest, visit cleburneeducationfoundation.com/nashville.lights to fill out an application. Tickets to attend the tryouts are available at the same site.