Landon Parker first strummed a Johnson guitar at the age of 15. Like most teenage boys in the tiny town of Yadkinville, N.C., days were filled with baseball, football, basketball, hunting and fishing until Parker’s father bought him a guitar as a birthday gift.
At first he thought, “I’m never going to be able to learn how to play it”. Shortly after receiving the guitar, Landon discovered that his maternal grandpa Hobson “Pa” had pancreatic cancer. As a young man, Parker had little experience with illness of a loved one, and picked up the guitar his father gave him and started to play. His dad taught him how to play “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”. His dad also taught him and his brother the G, C & D chords. Since then Landon has taught himself everything he knows today. Parker discovered a newfound talent, and was able to teach himself how to play and sing. The guitar playing, initially a coping mechanism, became a daily ritual.
“Every day he would come home at 3:30 and sing until midnight, sometimes even later. I never saw him until he needed food or something to drink!” said Sherre Betz, Parker’s mother.
Three months after initially receiving the guitar and after the passing of his grandpa, he entered a local talent show called “Triad’s Got Talent” on a whim. Much to his astonishment, Parker won the contest, which was modeled after the wildly popular “American Idol.” The win was the catalyst Parker needed to pursue his newfound dream of becoming a musician.
Meanwhile, another one of Parker’s grandparents was diagnosed with a devastating illness. Alzheimer’s was slowly claiming the mind of his paternal grandfather.
“Grandpa Parker was the choir director at his church for as long as anyone can remember. He got to the place where he didn’t know anything or anyone. However, I could go to his house and play hymns for him and he would remember all the words. If he couldn’t remember them, he would hum along. His face always lit up when I’d come to play for him,” said Parker.
After the passing of Grandpa Parker, Parker’s maternal grandmother, Grandma Hobson “Gonnie” was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. Despite the disease and the treatments that made her sick, Gonnie never missed a single one of Parker’s performances.
“Everywhere she went she was bragging on me. She would give out my business cards and tell people to check me out on “ViewTube” instead of “YouTube”. She had never been to a bar until my single release party. We set her up on a stool and she proudly sat there and watched my every move,” said Parker.
Gonnie passed away in January 2012. Parker’s new 2012 album called “Country Side” will be dedicated to her and his two grandfathers.
Landon’s goal is to influence others to follow their dreams. “I’ve hit several road bumps along the way. No matter how big they are, I’ve never let them slow me down. I hope that I can inspire others through my music. My best advice to you is to never be afraid to follow a dream no matter what it is. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s stupid or ridiculous; it just makes you who you are. Music is my life. I’ve sacrificed a lot…lost a lot…only to find a better version of myself in the end,” said Landon.
Parker has co-written fifteen original songs with his older brother, Nathan Parker, and another songwriter, Jill Gilliam. Nine of those will be on the album “Country Side” which comes out the first part of December 2012. Parker said, “My brother will come up with the words to the song…. I’d put the music to the word and the next thing you know “BAM” we’ve come up with really great song,” said Parker.
Eighteen year-old Parker has experienced three tough losses in his young life, but has discovered music and much more about himself -- Parker believes in helping people, especially through his music. Parker has performed at several benefit concerts for people going through hardships and illnesses.
Parker hopes his album will go far. Parker said, “Putting out this album has been a long process and we never thought we’d get here. For every step we’ve taken, we’ve been knocked a half a step back." Parker also laughed and said, “I’d finish one thing and another thing would fall apart…... it’s always gotta be something. I just hope everyone enjoys the album as much as I enjoyed making it.”