Star of the stateWorthington native to represent Minnesota in country music event
By: Beth Rickers, Worthington Daily Globe
FARGO, N.D. — For the second time in three years, Worthington native Greg Amundson will represent Minnesota in the regional competition of the Colgate Country Showdown after winning at the state level. The son of Bruce and JoAnn Amundson of Worthington, Amundson is currently a student in the pharmacy program at North Dakota State University in Fargo.
Although he’s been playing guitar and singing since he was young, performing and songwriting is more of a recent pursuit for Amundson, who goes by the stage name Gregory Michael Bruce. Locally, he performed in several talent-based productions at the Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center. Amundson spends summers at his family’s resort in the Alexandria-Wadena area, and that’s where he became involved in the Colgate Country Showdown, which is touted as “America’s largest country music talent search.”
The five regional winners in the Showdown receive an all-expense-paid trip to the national final to compete for $100,000 and the national title of “Best New Act in Country Music.” The national final airs nationwide, over syndicate television in March and April. Past local and regional winners include such well-known names as Brad Paisley, Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, Martina McBride, Billy Ray Cyrus, Sara Evans and Miranda Lambert.
“Greg’s won the local level three times,” explained Sherry Linnes, promotion coordinator at KKWS radio in Wadena, which sponsors the local event. “This is his second win at the state level — the first in 2006.”
Both Amundson and Linnes agree that his performance level has improved in the last two years, giving him a better chance to win the regional contest, scheduled for Oct. 25 at the Royal River Casino & Hotel in Flandreau, S.D., and advance in the Showdown.
“I’ve come a long ways since two years ago when I was at Flandreau,” Amundson reflected during a phone interview Thursday, “becoming more interactive with the crowd, feeding off that, feeling more comfortable in front of people.”
“I’ve seen a lot of improvement,” said Linnes, who tries to work closely with the artists that represent her station. “I’ve always thought he’s got a voice, and now I notice lot more control, a little more maturity, and his stage presence has gone from very little to he’s showing more Greg — more personality when he’s up there. As people see him, they will notice a marked improvement. The talent was always there; he’s just showing people that ‘Hey, I’m happy to be here and having fun performing for you.’”
During the summer months, Amundson honed his performance skills during regular gigs in the Alexandria area, including the Arrowwood Resort and Carlos Creek Winery.
“Every time I get on stage, it helps me out a bit,” Amundson said.
At the recent state competition in Wadena, Amundson performed a Garth Brooks’ hit, “Ain’t Goin’ Down Til the Sun Comes Up” and his original composition, “Walked Away.” He’s contemplating what song to perform for the regional competition.
“I’ve got it narrowed down to a few songs,” he shared. “I have to do an original, so either ‘Walked Away’ or one of the ones I’m finishing up writing right now. As far as the cover, I’m thinking about a Keith Urban song, ‘You Look Good in My Shirt.’ I’m not sure yet.”
After a busy summer of singing, Amundson is currently trying to focus on his studies, and on Thursday, he was preparing for six upcoming tests. He is in his second year in the pharmacy program, and it doesn’t leave a lot of time for pursuing his musical passion. Still, he dreams of making it big in the music business, and the Colgate Country Showdown is one way to do it.
“Pharmacy’s going to be the backup plan,” he said.
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