Kelly Paris made his singing debut with a rendition of â€œJesus Loves Me.â€
That was for his auntâ€™s wedding. He was 3 years old.
Now Paris, a deputy with the Lincoln County Sheriffâ€™s Office, is spending up to two weekends a month in Nashville working on his budding solo career.
â€œI love it,â€ Paris said. â€œThatâ€™s what Iâ€™m always wanted to do.â€
Paris grew up in Crouse and quickly became active in singing groups.
Starting out in local groups, he worked his way up to regional ones and finally became part of a trio that toured nationally.
The group, Davidâ€™s Heart, formed in 2000 and broke up in 2002. During the two years the band toured, members would play four to six shows a month.
It was during his time with Davidâ€™s Heart that Paris made some of his most important connections â€” connections that would help lead him to Nashville.
Through the group, he met Gene Johnson, a tenor with the country group Diamond Rio.
â€œHe listened and agreed to help guide me,â€ Paris said.
Paris tries to go to Nashville twice a month, when his schedule and finances permit.
He works with Joel Lindsey, who has penned several No. 1 gospel songs, on writing country tunes.
Paris also does demo work. Heâ€™ll sing the songs other writers have created, and those recordings will be used to pitch the songs to other artists.
Heâ€™s even cut a five-song demo album for Johnson.
Paris hopes to eventually be able to move to Nashville and focus more on his country music career.
Right now, he said heâ€™s lucky his employers at the Sheriffâ€™s Office are understanding enough to accommodate his schedule. His family is also supportive.
Paris is optimistic and ready to move forward with his dream career, despite hurdles he might face.
â€œI knew it was going to be tough, and itâ€™s a long process,â€ he said.
â€œBut I have to keep the mindset that this is my dream and this is what I want to do and try to be content in every moment.â€
Paris lives in Cherryville with his wife and 3-year-old son.by Alice Smith