TOP PHOTO: Local musician Greg Marlow is “living his dream” and will be competing in the Inspirational Country Music Association competition in Nashville in May at the Grand Ole Opry.

By Charlotte Underwood

LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – Local musician Greg Marlow is “living his dream times ten” as a singer songwriter getting to perform on the iconic Grand Ole Opry stage at Nashville in May.

Marlow competed in a national competition in June in Owensboro, Kentucky, as a national semi-finalist in the Inspirational Country Music Association (ICMA) Talent Contest. There were 80 musicians total in the semi-finals and Marlow missed advancing to Nashville by a very narrow margin. It was so narrow in fact that the competition judges personally invited him to compete at the Vicksburg, Mississippi, competition to give him another chance. He walked away the winner of that competition which was held in late August, earning his spot on the Grand Ole Opry stage for the finals on May 29. If he wins at the Opry, it could also land him a record deal. He will compete against seven others for the win.

Greg Marlow, left, is pictured with ICMA Small Town America Show and competition host Steve Bridgmon after winning the competition in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

“I still can’t believe all this is happening. Sometimes it doesn’t feel real. It’s my dream come true times ten,” Marlow said.

He shared that after the winners were announced, the host, Steve Bridgmon, came up to him and took his hand and said, “Brother, you never gave up and look what’s happening, you’re going to Nashville and somebody in Heaven is looking down and rejoicing with you right now.”

Marlow said at that moment, he was in fact standing there and thinking of his dad and how proud he would be if he was there.

“He was my biggest fan, my hero and supporter. It was he who gave us $500 in 1988 to buy a little sound system so we could start singing. My brother Warren, Steve Bruce and I drove down to Knoxville to Broadway Sound, laid that $500 on the counter and said we need as much sound system as this will buy, and we left there with an old Peavy board, a pair of column speakers and four old beat up mics and started this journey that has brought me here,” Marlow said.

Marlow entered the competitions with an original inspirational song and music that he now gets to perform in Nashville.

The whole process has “opened doors” for him in the music world.

“I’ve been playing a lot more after being in the competition, and I’ve made a lot of contacts. They have me scheduled for a song writing session with a Nashville songwriter, and it’s opened a lot of doors,” Marlow said. He just got back from playing in Navasota, Texas, after being invited there as part of the competition’s finalists to perform in the ICMA Small Town America Show.

“I’m getting to do stuff I never thought I would get to do; a lot of neat things are happening as a result of that competition,” Marlow said.

He attributes all this to “God working in his life.”

This couldn’t be more evident to him than on his recent trip to Texas, when he was involved in a serious car accident in Memphis, which totaled the car, but no one got hurt.

“It was God watching over us. We didn’t get a scratch on us; we got a rental and headed on to Texas,” Marlow said.

Local singer songwriter Greg Marlow has earned a spot to play on stage at the Grand Ole Opry in May as part of the Inspirational Country Music Association national competition. Marlow won the Vicksburg, Mississippi, competition in late August earning his chance to continue onto the finals, which will be held May 29th in Nashville on the Opry Stage.

His son Luke travels with him and went to the Owensboro competition and the Vicksburg competition with him as well.

“It’s been an exciting process and all the traveling has definitely been interesting. After the first of the year, they are supposed to be putting together a tour to promote the competition finalists and closer to May they are supposed to let me know about pre-sales of the tickets for the show at the Opry. It’s been pretty neat; sometimes I sit back and can’t believe it’s all happening,” Marlow said.

Marlow was born and raised at White Oak and has lived in LaFollette a little over 20 years. He has “always been around music” and is one of the founding members of “New Harvest” and was in that band for more than 30 years.

He credits the Lord and his battle with cancer as the inspiration to write his song “Second Chances” which is what he entered into the contest and what he will be performing at the Opry in May.

“My son helped give me the idea for the music, and I wrote the lyrics a few years ago,” Marlow said.

In late 2010, Marlow got a “bad cancer diagnosis” which “put him out of commission for several years” while he tried to recover.

He had only been given six months to live and had to undergo several radical surgeries at Vanderbilt Medical Center. That was 13 years ago, and now he’s cancer free.

It was while he was recuperating that Marlow “started writing music again,” but it was a “completely different direction” of music for him.

“The music became very personal to me,” Marlow said. His song “Second Chances” tells three stories. The first verse is about a friend of Marlow’s, while the second verse is autobiographical about his battle with cancer.

“The third verse is about the crucifixion and the thief on the cross; the song is about getting a second chance maybe when you didn’t deserve it,” Marlow said.

Marlow said this whole experience from beginning to end was attributed to God.

“It’s just been God moving through this whole thing; it’s the only thing that makes sense to me. Anyone that sings or plays dreams of playing at the Opry. I never thought I would actually do it. As for me, I thought that chance had come and gone a long time ago; I never thought I would see that. It’s God’s work,” Marlow said. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 11/02/2023-6AM)

3 Replies to “Greg Marlow to perform at Grand Ole Opry”

  1. Greg is as fine a person as you would ever hope to meet. Always smiling and always a friendly word, even to those of us who like to rib him every now and then. He lives a life serving after God’s own heart. Go get ‘em Greg.

  2. Second Chances is a great song written and performed by a better man. God Speed Greg and good luck.

  3. No one is more deserving of this great honor than you, Greg. Prayers for you as you continue on your journey. We are all so proud of you, our hometown boy made good!! God bless you and your family!

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