All his life he was an athlete. Even in college, Chris Lane was a baseball player. It wasn’t until knee surgeries hindered him from professional play that Lane decided to learn guitar. In the next few years, he transformed from an athlete who’d never sung in front of a crowd to a professional country singer.
“I went from playing baseball in a stadium to playing music in a stadium,” Lane said. “It’s not something I ever dreamed about doing as a child.”
Lane’s childhood was filled with brotherly competition rather than music and guitars.
“We always had competitions…who could score the most touchdowns, or who could hit the most homeruns. There was always something we were competing over, either sports or girls,” Lane said.
Lane said some have claimed that he always strives to be the center of attention, but he believes that’s simply a result of the competition. He and his identical twin brother now perform together, often confusing the audience by their looks. Chris sings and his brother plays the drums.
“We still give each other a hard time. If I mess up the vocals, he gives me a hard time. If he messes up the drums, I give him a hard time,” Lane said.
Lane’s interest in country performing was originally piqued by country star Keith Urban.
“The only reason I wanted to learn how to play guitar was because I’m a huge Keith Urban fan. I covered a lot of his songs when I was first starting out. He’s inspired me the most to want to play and sing, and I’m very thankful for that” Lane said.
Lane and his brother formed a band with some more experienced performers. Despite the novelty of the band, they began attracting crowds.
“Once people started coming out to shows, I just decided to try to write my own music. I had to start somewhere, and at first my songs were pretty average, but I guess people liked them and I’m grateful for that. I just put out a record of all self-done stuff — no promotion — and it became popular that way,” Lane said.
One of his favorite memories is performing at the Ryman in Nashville, Tennessee playing on the same stage as many of his favorite artists.
However, he said an even greater thrill was his decision to pursuing music.
“Music is my greatest achievement because it kind of came out of left field. I thought I would be doing sports for a really long time, and I didn’t overcome that fact until college,” Lane said.
Now, he loves performing more than he would ever have imagined. One of his favorite songs to cover is called “Let Me Love You.”
“I love singing that and people love to sing along. I love the connection that you can make with the crowd, and the way a song can make you feel. Being on stage is my favorite part of the whole process,” Lane said. “I’m looking forward to playing for a college crowd. College students always seem to be the most wild, they seem to have the most fun.”
With energetic blonde hair, a personable southern accent, and a natural charisma, Natalie Stovall was born to perform on stage. Ever since she was four and her grandmother saw an advertisement in the newspaper for violin lessons, the stage has enticed her.
“I was kind of a ham and the center of attention. Practicing was always my least favorite, and if I was giving my mom a hard time about it, she would take me to the park. She knew if I could draw a crowd, I could play all day,” Stovall said.
Her first public appearance was as a child performer in the Opryland Kid’s Club. In college, she formed a band and toured Nashville during the summers. After graduating from Berkley College of Music with a major in vocal performance, Stovall and her drummer reformed the band and expanded their performances.
They often perform for the military, even flying out to navy ships in the Persian Gulf to play for the navy troops there, marking a highlight. Even more remarkable was her experience with George W. Bush.
“I was invited to sing for the president at the White House, and that was incredible. I was the first female to be invited to the correspondence dinner,” Stovall said.
Looking back, Stovall said that her greatest achievement was pursuing her musical dreams.
“It’s not an easy road, and there have been a lot of set-backs. But I still believe I was born to do this and I know this is what I was meant to do. I’m not going to give up on that,” Stovall said.
Senior Alex Fogt watched her perform at Panama City Beach.
“I think my favorite part about seeing her perform was during her first show. She saw me waving a pair of beads in the front row and came over to where I was. She leaned down close, took a picture with me, grabbed my beads, and wore them for her entire show. That is the moment I became a huge fan of her as one of the newest talents in country music,” Fogt said in an email.
Some of her favorite songs include the crowd pleasers “Devil Went Down to Georgia” and “Baby Come On With It,” as well as a new song called “We Are.”
“There’s nothing like having people sing the lyrics of your song back to you. It’s such a good feeling,” Stovall said. She hopes to linger after the show to meet students.
“Since Natalie is still up and coming as an artist, she is super personable with all of her fans. She is also extremely talented with the fiddle, which is rarity these days among artist Her motto is “peace, love, fiddle” — all of which are obvious in each of the shows I have seen her perform,” Fogt said.