'You Remind Me of West Virginia' success opening many doors for singer
WANT TO GO?
15th annual Ribfest
WHERE: Across from Dow Chemical, MacCorkle Avenue, South Charleston
WHEN: 4 to 10:30 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
COST: Adults $5, children 6-12 $2 (includes free carnival ride), children 5 and under free. (Food not included in price.)
INFO: 304-444-2921 or www.charlestonwvribfest.com Music on Thursday starts at 7:30 p.m. with Wyatt Turner performing at 8:45 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Even a little bit of fame can open all kinds of doors. Sometimes those doors lead to new opportunities: a chance to make more money or grow that first blush with success into something bigger.
Pocahontas County native Wyatt Turner might know something about that.
His love song, "You Remind Me of West Virginia," a tribute to his fiancée, Holly Hayden, became a viral sensation after Turner released it on YouTube in June. It has currently been viewed more than 160,000 times on the website.
The country singer/songwriter, who performs Thursday night at Ribfest in South Charleston said, "[The song] opened so many doors. I've not stopped moving. I've been so busy. The demand has been so high; it's ridiculous."
The song was something the 23-year-old came up with while traveling home to Stony Bottom from Nashville.
"I was looking for a good hook for a love song to write about Holly," he said.
Hayden is from Mill Point, also in Pocahontas County.
He said, "I met her at one of my very small, acoustic shows. She walked in, and I just couldn't take my eyes off her."
Turner said he was thinking about her and the song he wanted to write when he crossed the state line and spotted the welcome sign.
"It said, 'Wild and Wonderful.' I kind of took that and ran with it."
But not right away.
Turner kept the lyric on his phone for a while and didn't do anything with it until a few days before he was supposed to go into the studio and record. He started writing with his manager's wife, Gloria Mahon, and together they put together the song in just a few minutes.
He really liked how it turned out.
"I cut the song, and then decided to put a video on YouTube about it," he said. "I just wanted to see what kind of reaction I'd get."
Turner had posted other videos to the website before, and the response had been fairly modest. The sudden attention from "You Remind Me of West Virginia" caught him completely by surprise.
"I didn't expect 100 people to see it," he said. "Let along the 170 or 180 thousand people who've watched it since."
The first 50,000 views came during the first couple of hours. It was exciting, he said, and humbling.
"Our lives changed completely the day that song was released."
One of the doors the song has opened has been the opportunity to play more shows, including a slot as one in an 18-artist showcase at the Colorado State Fair.
The song itself is still getting played. Outside of YouTube, Turner said it has been picked up by radio stations across the country.
"It's getting a lot of spins."
Turner is enjoying the attention, though it's a little soon to say if it will lead anywhere. So far, his music career is off to a good start, but he was already doing pretty well even before he uploaded the song to the Internet.
For the last three and a half years, Turner has made his home in Nashville and made a living playing music, which in a city full of singer/songwriters tends to be the exception not the rule.
"I left for Nashville right after high school," he said. "And Nashville is a really hard town to crack. A normal day for me is to do some demo sessions -- that's where a writer wants me to put my vocals on a song they wrote. "
He also plays shows here and there, and with all the attention from "You Remind Me of West Virginia," has been assembling a band to take on the road.
"That's the dream for guys like me," he said. "It's what I've always wanted, and I'm excited to get to do that."
Turner is also working on a record, though he doesn't have major label backing.
"I'm completely independent until the right deal comes along," he said. "I don't mind at all." Reach Bill Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5195.