Clayton Center goes country

‘WIVK Live’ radio show will broadcast live from Clayton Center

Making the announcement kicking off “WIVK Live” are, from left, Mark Johnson, Alcoa city manager; Mike Hammond, WIVK director of operations; Robert Hutchens, executive director of Clayton Center for the Arts; and Andy White, vice mayor for the City of Maryville.

Photo by Leslie Karnowski

Making the announcement kicking off “WIVK Live” are, from left, Mark Johnson, Alcoa city manager; Mike Hammond, WIVK director of operations; Robert Hutchens, executive director of Clayton Center for the Arts; and Andy White, vice mayor for the City of Maryville.

When the curtains open for WIVK Live at the Clayton Center for the Arts on Friday, July 23, the folks in the audience won’t be the only ones listening.

The show will be heard throughout East Tennessee and streamed on the Internet. WIVK will broadcast the concerts from the Clayton Center for the Arts, announced Mike Hammond, WIVK director of operations, during a press conference at Maryville College.

If everything goes as planned, WIVK Live will be a quarterly event. Admission tickets are slated to be $10, and the show will feature up and coming artists as well as offer an opportunity to showcase local talent, said Hammond.

William Blount High School sophomore Laurel Wright will be featured along with national artists Blaine Larsen, James Wesley, Troy Olsen, Frankie Ballard and Katie Armiger in the debut show.

“I’ve always wanted to do a live radio show,” Hammond said. “It’s exciting for us. If you have ever been to Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry, you know there is something special about a live radio show. With the opening of the new Clayton Center for the Arts, and with the relationship with Maryville and Alcoa, this is the perfect venue.”

The show will air live on 107.7 WIVK-FM and via streaming at www.wivk.com from 8 to 10 p.m. on July 24.

Hammond said he spoke with Robert Hutchens and the staff of the Clayton Center even before the facility opened.

“We have looked at venues in Knoxville,” Hammond said, “but we wanted to wait for the right place. It will be very easy to do because of the state-of-the-art equipment. Our engineers say it will be a breeze.”

Hammond said the station engineers checked out the equipment and acoustics in the center and were impressed. “From an acoustics standpoint, there’s not a bad seat in the house. I don’t think there’s anything like this in the whole country,” he said of the Clayton Center.

Robert Hutchens, executive director of the Clayton Center for the Arts, said the association with WIVK will be a big benefit to the center.

“Having the association with WIVK, with their prestige and reach, it is going to do a lot for one of the missions and visions of the Clayton Center to become a regional presence,” he said. “WIVK gives us the opportunity for not only a regional presence, but a national presence.”

Andy White, Maryville vice mayor, said the radio show is an extremely important move and partnering with WIVK made sense, especially considering the relationship the city has with the radio station and the Foothills Fall Festival. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase our local talent to the entire region,” White said.

White said one of the biggest challenges for the Clayton Center is that many outside Blount County don’t about it. “There isn’t anything in Knoxville like this. It is state-of-the-art and anything we can do with WIVK to promote it is not only good for the center, it’s good for the city,” said White.

Hammond said the talent for the debut show is strong. “This is a great lineup of talent from Nashville for our debut show,” Hammond said. “Our staff is excited about doing a live radio show, since we are all fans of the Grand Ole Opry.”

William Blount student Laurel Wright, 14, is the local talent in the debut show. Wright said she was shocked when Hammond contacted her family three weeks ago regarding the show. “I was really shocked,” said Wright. “I am excited and a little bit nervous but I’m really happy about everything. This is what I have wanted to do my whole life. I love it so much.”

Wright, a member at Kagley’s Chapel Baptist Church in Six Mile, said while her relationship with God is the biggest influence in her life, those who influence her music include singers Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert and Patsy Cline.

“I sing, play guitar and write my own songs,” she said. “I write my songs from experiences that happen to me and my friends. It’s country but with a newer sound.”

National talent for the debut show include Blaine Larsen, who has had hits with “How Do You Get That Lonely,” “Spoken Like A Man” and his new song “Chillin,” which is in the Top 40 on the Billboard charts; James Wesley, whose song “Jackson Hole” debuted on the charts, and whose new song “Real” is already in the top 50; Troy Olsen, whose debut song “Summer Thing” is on the charts; Frankie Ballard, whose song “Tell Me You Get Lonely” is on the national charts; and Katie Armiger, best known for “Gone” and her new song, “Kiss Me Now.”

Tickets are available through the box office at Clayton Center for the Arts or any Tickets Unlimited Outlets. The cost is $10 for general admission, and $15 for special reserved seating. For more information, visit www.wivk.com.

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