Weeks after turning 17 years old, Caney's Brady Rhodes emerged as a surprise winner of the 2017 Watermelon Idol contest, winning over several more seasoned and experienced performers.
Weeks after turning 17 years old, Caney’s Brady Rhodes emerged as a surprise winner of the 2017 Watermelon Idol contest, winning over several more seasoned and experienced performers.
His unexpected success even still amazes him days after winning, as he says “I really didn’t know what to expect. I just got up there and started singing.”
And as quickly as that, Rhodes won, and now the honor roll senior at Nevada High School has gigs booked at churches from Magnolia to Hope, performing Gospel music as well as old time County standards from artists like George Jones and Johnny Cash.
On the Hempstead Hall stage during the Watermelon Idol finals, Rhodes commanded the stage with a presence and volume of a professional, walking the stage and sounding confident and comfortable, even as he was performing in front of several hundred people.
Locally, Facebook accounts exploded in the days after his performance, even surprising Rhodes himself.
“I got back from a golf practice, and I starting hearing about it,” he said.
Rhodes said the “singing bug” hit him about six months ago, and with no formal musical training, he was able to pick up on certain songs he had heard in church, and simply started singing.
His mom, Nevada High School teacher Shelly Rhodes, said “He has just been singing every where, the shower, in church, in the car, when ever and where ever he gets a chance.”
And, if it sounds a bit happenstance or out of a Hollywood script, Rhodes in many ways parallels a world famous rural Arkansas native, Glen Campbell, who hailed from Delight and recently passed away as a Country music legend.
Shelly Rhodes said, “We still don’t know what to make of it. All and a sudden, people from everywhere what to hear him sing, and he’s got performances booked. It has all been so unexpected.”
As Rachel Hale eventually ended up on American Idol, it happens that a revival of that show is happening later this year, and auditions are happening just down the road in Shreveport.
“It has been something to think about; I’ve really thought about doing it,” he said.
In addition to both coming from small southwest Arkansas communities, Campbell had no formal musical training and he never did learn how to formally “read music.” Self-taught on the guitar at an early age, Campbell had started performing for live audiences at the age of 17 after joining his uncle’s band.
Campbell’s roots were in Country, but he too, had performed and was influenced by Gospel music. Campbell learned music simply by listening to it, which in those days meant AM radio, and he started performing regularly playing music at county fairs and church picnics and singing gospel hymns in the church choir.
Unlike Campbell, who famously dropped out of school at 17 to pursue singing full-time, Rhodes said he is committed to finishing his education. An honors senior at Nevada High School, he is on track to be at the top of his 2018 graduating class.
Prior to catching the singing bug six months ago, Rhodes said “I like chemistry; I was thinking about being a chemical engineer or something. I like computer science, too.”
Rhodes is the oldest of three brothers, all sharing similar names. Brady is age 17; Bryson is age 15, and Brogan is age 10. Rhodes is also a premium athlete, playing basketball, golf and baseball for the Blue Jays, and simply says “I just go out and enjoy life.”