By Bobbie Poynter / Community Editor
Musical talent in Sydney Hurst’s family may have skipped a generation, but that hasn’t stopped Marsha and David Hurst, of Corbin, from supporting their 16-year-old daughter’s aspirations of one day becoming a professional country music performer.
“We’ve always supported our kids in anything they’ve tried to do,” said Marsha Hurst. “Most kids Sydney’s age wouldn’t even attempt to get up there on stage and perform. I’ve seen her grow tremendously since she first began performing, and as long as she loves it, we’ll stand behind her. Besides, I love to see people’s reactions when she sings.”
Sydney’s older brother, Quinton, who Sydney proudly proclaimed could play just about any horn, was a member of the Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps, traveling and performing across the nation.
David Hurst says his daughter got her talent from him, but Sydney disagrees.
“My dad would like to think that I got it from him, but he can’t sing,” she laughed.
Sydney’s sister Rachael may not be a musician, but she, too, helps out her younger sibling. Rachael, a soon-to-be graduate of Southeast Community College’s cosmetology program, is Sydney’s personal hairdresser, even going so far as to travel to Nashville with her little sister to make sure she looks her very best.
“My sister always makes me look great,” said Sydney. “She helps me with both my makeup and hair. I would trust her with anything.”
Sydney got her first guitar for Christmas when she was eight, but finally buckled down and began seriously learning to play the guitar only seven months ago. She already has a repertoire of more than 15 songs. She and a handful of other budding musicians take lessons from Darron Nichols at the Cumberland River Academy in Pineville. There, the students not only learn to play instruments, but get performing experience every week at a coffee house next door to the music studio.
“Darron is laid back and really patient. He’s a genuinely nice guy, and he has a lot of faith in me,” said Sydney.
Besides the songs she used to listen to with her mother when she was younger, Sydney’s musical influences, she says, come from listening to her favorite country music stars, Miranda Lambert and Jason Aldean.
“Jason Aldean was one of the first concerts I ever went to, and I fell in love with him and his music,” Sydney blushed. “As for Miranda, I’ve always loved her music, but recently people have been saying that I’m beginning to sound like her.
“It’s great that they say that and it’s a real compliment, but I’d rather be known for my own sound.”
At 16, Sydney is not exactly in a hurry to jump full throttle into a music career. She plans first to finish high school, and then go on to college and major in nursing because “she loves taking care of people.”
However, Sydney plans to always keep her eyes on the prize, a Nashville recording contract.
“I would love to move to Nashville and pursue singing and really get there and make it,” said Sydney. “Maybe someday I’d even like to sing on national television.”
Without looking too far ahead, Sydney is taking things one day at a time, dividing her time between classes, guitar lessons, and continuing to perform whenever and wherever she can.
Next on the agenda? Sydney, along with her Middlesboro friends and fellow musicians, Blake Branscum, Shawn Gambrel, Jade Robertson and Alex Campbell, will play and sing together in a 45-minute set at the upcoming Bluegrass on the Mountain in Bell County May 18, where country and bluegrass music superstar Ricky Skaggs will also perform.
Sydney will take any chance to hone her skills as a performer. She has been known to enter — and win — talent shows, including Entertainer of the Year at the Country Music Association (NACMAI) in Gatlinburg, Tenn.
Locally, she has performed at Nibroc and even volunteered her voice at Corbin’s Relay for Life, where she took turns with other performers singing inspirational songs as the Relay participants walked throughout the night.
Sydney welcomes any chance to perform, be it in a show, fundraiser or competition. Anyone wanting to book the teen can call Marsha Hurst at 606-344-2283 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.