Updated: Sep 20
After a night of music on Belmont’s main lawn, Mississippi native Trent Wayne took home the crown at the 2021 Country Showcase.
Wayne shared the showcase stage with fellow student performers Faith Alexa, Gloria Anderson and Gracee Shriver, and each artist performed three original songs for a crowd of students, parents and visitors, as well as a panel of judges made up of Nashville music business professionals.
Wayne said he wasn’t expecting to win and commended his competitors on a great night of country music.
“They’ll all make their mark. Everybody is going to be the future,” Wayne said.
Wayne kicked off his set with the toe-tapping “Hankerin’ for a Honky Tonk” followed by “Firewoman” and “Out of Sight, Out of Mind.”
Wayne, a senior who will graduate in December, was excited to perform at the showcase in his last semester.
After a rough start at Belmont, he found belonging through the friends he met over his four years at the university — some of whom backed him up on stage as his band.
The showcase champ also said he probably wouldn’t be on stage if it weren’t for the dean of the Curb College, Doug Howard.
When Wayne was a freshman, he noticed Howard was one of the only people on campus wearing cowboy boots, so he went up and introduced himself. Wayne said it was Howard who encouraged him to find community at Belmont.
“He kept me in Belmont, honestly, and if it wouldn’t be for him, I wouldn’t still be here,” Wayne said. “He told me to ‘stick it out and you’ll meet people,’ and sure enough, I met all the guys on stage with me tonight.”
Wayne was the second artist to perform in the Saturday lineup, and showcase producer Caitlin Reardon said the judges came to their decision pretty quickly. They evaluated performances by several criteria, from creativity to marketability, before coming to their final decision, she said.
Country showcase marks the second campus concert of the semester after Battle of Bands in August. The night featured food trucks and student DJ Braden Detelich.
The free live music drew a crowd of hundreds, with supporters packed into Freedom Plaza and lounging on blankets across the lawn.
The annual concerts also add a Nashville flair to Belmont students’ college experience — whether that comes from taking in the show or working it as part of the student production staff.
“I think that these sorts of opportunities are one of the reasons that I came to Belmont because I thought it was so cool that students get hands-on real life experience with live performance,” said sophomore Emma Holzhausen from the audience.
Music business senior Marcus Knight emceed the show alongside Reardon and said afterward that he enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about country music, a genre he wasn’t very familiar with.
“I really wanted to get to know what the music itself was about,” Knight said. “It was a really cool experience.”
Knight, the university’s showcase ambassador, will also emcee the Christian Showcase on Nov. 6 and said he’s excited to listen to more music by Belmont artists.
Wayne will return to the showcase stage alongside Battle of the Bands victor RV! and other yet-to-be-determined winners at Belmont’s Best of the Best concert in the spring.
Recap Saturday’s music with the Vision’s Country Showcase 2021 playlist on Spotify.
PHOTO: Trent Wayne performing at Country Showcase 2021. Belmont Vision / Sarah Maninger.
This article was written by Sarah Maninger. Contributory reporting by Allynne Miller and Tricia LaMorte.