From singing country music in the church talent show as a youngster, to picking up a guitar as the age of 10 and to now recording and performing on stage, Ada native and 22-year-old Clint Austen is on the rise.
Austen’s musical talents will be on display Thursday, Nov. 10, as he opens for country star Hal Ketchum in concert at 7:30 p.m. at East Central University’s Ataloa Theatre in the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center.
Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at ecok.edu/FineArts or by calling 580-559-5751. Box office hours are from 2 p.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. The office is located in the David A. and Alma R. Lockmiller Grand Lobby in the HBFFAC.
“I sang country music at about the age of 6 or 7 in a church talent show at Central Church of Christ (in Ada),” said Austen. “I picked up the guitar when I was 10 years old and then took guitar lessons at Ada Music for a couple of years.”
That’s when his desire really took off in trying to pursue a music career.
“I always said ‘I wanted to add to it’,” Austen said by playing an instrument in addition to his vocal talents.
Austen has played several genres in music, including rock and Christian rock. He admitted that he enjoyed listening to the musical talents of such artists as Bryan Adams and Def Leppard.
“That fits me with the electric guitar. But my first love has always been country,” said Austen, who started a country band and eventually hooked up with his current manager Tony Tuhill.
Thanks to his grandfather, Larry Clinton, Austen was able to connect with Tuhill after Clinton and Tuhill met at a grocery store and began talking in 2014. Tuhill is a general contractor and dabbles in Nashville on the side, according to Austen.
“I eventually started with a low-budget EP (extended play, five-song album) and I wrote all of them,” Austen said. “I have 15 songs recorded and wrote all of them. We kept it simple with me doing all the writing.”
Austen’s favorite is “Not Over You,” a song he experienced and wrote.
“Many of my songs are from real-life experiences,” said Austen. “I just hummed a melody and wrote around the hook line.”
He considers his best song to be “Hooked on a Heartache.”
Since 2014, it’s been a busy life for Austen, who has made periodic visits to Nashville and Dallas and then back to Ada.
“I’m back and forth, going to recordings in Nashville and Dallas,” he said.
Austen is excited to be on the same program as Ketchum.
“It’s awesome to play here, since I grew up here, and to be opening for Hal,” said Austen. “Small Town Saturday Night was one of my favorite songs growing up and I can’t wait to meet him. His vocals are so clean and clear. He’s really got a good vocal sound and a really good singing voice.”
Austen hopes to latch onto a record label soon. In the meantime, he’ll frequently leave Ada to go and record three songs at a time.
His accompaniest for the concert will be Jared Harder, of Joplin, Missouri. Harder will play the acoustic guitar and keys and will sing background vocals.
Austen is a 2012 graduate of Byng High School where he was involved in student council and leadership activities for three years. He was also a member of the Byng High School baseball team as a pitcher and left fielder.
The concert is being sponsored by the Oklahoma Arts Council and ECU Foundation, Inc. In making it a dinner and show night, patrons can present their season ticket patron card and receive a 10 percent discount on the night of performances at Rib Crib, Vintage 22 and the Santa Fe Steakhouse.
A $5 cash bar will also be available in the Pogue Art Gallery, beginning at 6:45 p.m., prior to the concert.
Sponsors for the 2016-17 ECU Fine Arts Season are: Communication Federal Credit Union, The Ada News, Score Broadcasting, Hampton Inn and Suites, Vision Bank, Santa Fe Cattle Co., Citizen’s Bank, ECU Bookstore, Vintage 22 and LaQuinta Inns and Suites.