Bluegrass prodigy Wyatt Ellis performs educational concert

Bluegrass prodigy Wyatt Ellis performs educational concert


Fifteen-year-old Bluegrass prodigy Wyatt Ellis captivated music students from Choctaw Central and Philadelphia high schools with an educational show at the Ellis Theater last Thursday.

Ellis, the lead singer and mandolin player, took the stage to cheers and excitement alongside his band members, Gibson Davis on banjo, Christian Ward on fiddle, Sarah Griffin handling tenor vocals and bass, and C.J. Lewandowski on guitar.

The band performed a set of traditional Bluegrass songs, including classics like “When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again” by Wiley Walker and Gene Sullivan, “On My Mind” by Flatt & Scruggs, “Duncan & Brady” and “Newton Grove” by Johnson Mountain Boys, and selections from the Stanley Brothers and Gram Parsons. 

They also showcased original compositions like “Wildwood” and Ellis’s current number-one hit “Blue Smoke,” featuring the renowned Marty Stuart, a Neshoba County native who through his Congress of Country Music here is making shows like this possible.

Reflecting on his success with “Blue Smoke,” Ellis said, “It’s pretty cool. It took a lot of hard work to write a tune like that. I reached out to Marty, and he agreed to play on it, and we had a lot of fun recording it.”

Most of the track was recorded at the Tractor Shed studio near Hendersonville, Tenn., with Marty’s solo session taking place at Cash Cabin, Johnny Cash’s former studio.

Following the performance, Ellis and his band answered questions from the audience. 

When asked about his musical journey, Ellis said, “I’ve been playing for close to five years now, starting right when I turned 10.”

The band members humorously chimed in with their own experiences: Lewandowski boasting, “I’ve been playing longer than he’s been alive,” while Griffin mentioned around four or five years, Davis for 10 years, and Ward jokingly claimed 22 years.

In a lighthearted moment, a student asked if her friend could obtain Ellis’s phone number, prompting laughter from the band and crowd.

Interestingly, the majority of the student audience raised their hands when asked if it was their first encounter with live bluegrass music. 

“I love putting bluegrass music in front of the younger generations,” Ellis said. “I hope they can enjoy it for the rest of their lives and maybe even learn to play an instrument.”

Ellis said his first exposure to bluegrass music was through the Osborne Brothers, leading him to discover icons like Bill Monroe and others, further solidifying his passion for the genre.

Following his educational show, Ellis had the honor of opening for the legendary Del McCoury Band on Friday night. 

“Del has been one of my biggest heroes for a long time. Ronnie, Rob, and all those guys are so awesome. To get to open for them is truly special,” he said. 

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