Colton Sherrill’s musical talents put the icing on the cake
With all that’s wrong in the world, it’s great to know there are some things right. One of those was a talent show earlier this year at West Rowan High School. With each performer bringing something entirely different to the stage — from playing a ukulele, to singing pop and country songs, stand-up comedy and even a rock and roll band — it was an enjoyable night.
Since my youngest daughter, Kelly, graduated in 2007, it’s been hard staying up-to-date with extra-curricular activities at West. That’s why I was happy when April Sherrill, mother of talent show participant Colton Sherrill, sent me a message on Facebook about the event.
Colton, the son of April and Carlyle Sherrill, was a student in my music class when I taught at Mt Ulla Elementary School. Now he’s a senior.
I hadn’t seen Colton since elementary school until last year at the West Rowan Farm, Home and Garden Spring Festival in Bear Poplar. His mom was a vendor, so to keep her company, Colton brought along his guitar. Assigned the booth next to April’s, a bonus for me was listening to him play and sing during the day. Impressed with his musicianship, I soon learned not only did Colton play and sing, but he also wrote music, even recording a CD of original songs.
Promising to hear him perform at a later date, I found the West Rowan Talent Show was the perfect opportunity to keep that promise. Colton’s group, known as the Trifecta, performed last, which was probably a good thing because they brought the house down. Playing along with Colton were Patrick Waldo on guitar and Mason Clarke on drums.
By the end of the performance, the entire West Rowan auditorium was rocking. Although all the talents were great, the band put the icing on the cake, evidenced by everyone in the auditorium standing up, clapping. With the band taking home first place, I suppose it didn’t hurt when Colton showed off his unique ability, playing the guitar on the back of his neck.
Wanting to learn a little more about the driving force behind the music, several weeks later I made a trip to Mt Ulla and the Sherrill home. Signs of spring were popping up everywhere, so I wasn’t surprised to see April in the front yard. After initial greetings, we began walking toward the front door, where Colton was waiting to meet us.
Loving all things old and historic, as we entered the front hallway into what was probably known years ago as the parlor, I was instantly impressed with its charm. I soon learned Colton’s great-grandparents, Carlyle and Anita Sherrill, had built the house in 1938.
Settling down on a comfy couch in the living room, as we began to talk, it was April who first shed light on the possible source of Colton’s talent. She said her dad, Dr. Charles Eddinger, loved singing and playing the guitar, passing that love down to his sons, Rodney and Kevin.
Growing up in the Spencer area, I knew of Dr. Eddinger’s reputation as a well-respected doctor in the community but didn’t know of his musical talent. Graduating from North Rowan High School, I knew his sons, Rodney and Kevin, but not their much younger sister, April. After the initial shock wore off that April was Rodney and Kevin’s sister, I then learned about her life in a musical family.
April said her dad loved playing country music and was really good at it, but that Rodney and Kevin loved the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Although Rodney enjoyed listening to classical music at first, when younger brother Kevin began sharing some of his albums, like “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by the Beatles and “Exile on Main Street” by the Rolling Stones, Rodney fell in love with that style of music.
April said she fell asleep many nights as a little girl hearing her brothers practice, with their mom, Louise Eddinger, reminding them to tone it down.
Now April’s the one reminding her son to tone it down so his younger sister, Lauren, can study. Even though Lauren studies a lot, she admits to learning the words to Colton’s songs from hearing them over and over again.
It’s ironic that April, as a mom, goes to sleep hearing the same songs she did as a little girl. The only difference is it’s her son practicing all hours of the day and night instead of her brothers.
Colton was at West Rowan Middle School when he first began to develop a love for the Beatles’ music, learning the different parts, playing the Beatles Rock Band on his Wii. He wanted to play for real. At the age of 13, he learned his first chord from his grandfather. Later taking a few lessons from his uncles, he was hooked for good.
Since then, it’s been practice, practice, practice.
“If he didn’t have to go to school, he would practice all day,” April says.
Colton’s Uncle Rodney approves.
“Practicing has paid off for him because now he’s a gifted musician far exceeding expectations,” Rodney says. “He learns music quickly and is dedicated to writing, playing and sharing his musical talent with others.
“As an uncle, it makes me proud to have had a small part in his love for music by enhancing the kind of music he already had an affinity for.”
Anyone not convinced of Colton’s talent and passion should look in his room. In addition to instruments taking up space, he has Beatles posters covering the walls and Beatles music open on the music stand.
When I asked about a Robert Johnson poster hanging on the wall, I discovered Colton learned about this blues musician from his Uncle Kevin. He said his uncle introduced him to Johnson’s style by playing several of his compositions including “Crossroad Blues” and “Love in Vain.”
Pausing for a second, Colton then said, “Without Robert Johnson, we wouldn’t have the music we have today.”
Intrigued by this statement, I did some research to find that Robert Johnson changed the face of blues music by singing songs of hardship in a way everyone could understand. Even though his music was written almost a hundred years ago, some of Johnson’s songs have been recorded by major rock stars, including the Rolling Stones.
Before I left for the evening, Colton played one of his original melodies, even showing off his ability in layering the different tracks. Envious of that kind of talent, I know it comes only after hours of practicing and experimenting with sound. Although Colton writes songs in various places, his room is where he edits and records.
With all of this talent and college on the horizon, Colton might be expected to major in music. Wrong. Although he loves to perform, he knows breaking into the music industry is a long and winding road. With a desire to pay his bills first, he’s getting a business degree from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
Having a grandfather as a doctor, a dad as a lawyer, one uncle as a judge and another as a pharmacist, it seems Colton has no choice but to follow the voice of logic. Even so, with musical talent such as Colton’s, I hope to see his CDs selling off the shelves someday. Now, that would make a music teacher proud.
If you’re ever thinking about how bad things are and there’s no hope for the future, go to a talent show. It will give you a brighter outlook and change your mind. There’s no doubt Colton’s passion for the music of yesteryear has already bridged a gap, crossing the boundaries of generations from the past into the future. Ready to move on with his life, Colton can’t wait to see where that will lead, and neither can his friends and family.
Dicy McCullough’s books are available in local bookstores, Amazon.com. and Barnes and Noble. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook or contact her at 704-278-4377.