Local musicians shine at Opry; Thompson earns 2nd during national competition 

June 5, 2024 | 12:14 am

Updated June 5, 2024 | 12:15 am

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A few local musicians had the opportunity of a lifetime over the weekend, performing at Nashville’s famed Grand Ole Opry during the Inspirational Country Music Association’s (ICMA) “Sound of Small Town America” finale. 

Owensboro’s Cameron Thompson earned second place in the adult division. Clint Campbell also participated in the event, along with Knottsville’s Gavin Howard, who participated in the youth event. 

“I felt like I was floating,” Thompson said of the surreal experience. “I don’t necessarily even remember singing. I was on cloud nine, knowing the circle of artists who had performed on that stage.”

Thompson, Campbell, and Howard all participated in a regional competition last year during one Friday After 5 event to qualify for the “Sound of Small Town America” competition. The three competed against artists from all over the country. 

The ICMA is a nonprofit committed to deepening Christian country music’s and its creators’ impact through support, outreach, advancement, and recognition. Owensboro’s Steve Bridgmon earned Male Vocalist of the Year at the ICMA Awards Show and helped organize the competition. 

“I know all of these boys well, and I’ve had the pleasure of watching them over the past year,” Bridgmon said. “I’ve been saying Cameron Thompson is going to be a powerhouse someday – I’ve said that all along. All of these guys never quit.” 

Thompson’s interest in music grew after he graduated from Owensboro High School in 2020. Once he knew he wasn’t going to play football in college, he knew he needed to find a new hobby, especially during the pandemic. 

“The songwriting came pretty naturally to me, and I picked up the guitar right around the same time I began writing songs,” he said. “Things really started to take off during the pandemic, and I started releasing music that summer that followed.”

Thompson attributes much of his success to Owensboro and Bridgmon for their continued support. 

“I want to thank Owensboro for backing me through everything; I don’t think I would be where I’m at today if I was from anywhere else,” he said. “I also want to give a special shoutout to Steve Bridgmon. He’s been a really close friend of mine for the past year or so, and he’s pushed me to a level that I was uncomfortable with at first, but it’s moved me to a different level as a musician.”

Howard graduated from Trinity High School in Whitesville last year. He’s been playing guitar for nearly a decade and began performing locally in 2022. He also considered the competition and performing at the Opry the opportunity of a lifetime. 

He’s hopeful the experience will propel his musical career to new heights.

“It was crazy – I never thought I would be on that stage,” Howard said. “I’m hoping to eventually produce some songs, get some of my own music out there, and eventually release some albums. I’m hopeful I can make it on some of the country charts. That’s the dream.”

Howard seconded Thompson’s sentiment that the community has played a pivotal role in his success. He also expressed gratitude to his parents for their continued support. Campbell could not be reached by the time of publication.

June 5, 2024 | 12:14 am

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