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Program celebrates young musicians

(Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com) Shane Nelson and Crescent Moon perform on July 4th at the Barkers Island Pavilion in Superior. 1 / 3
(Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com) Shane Nelson and Crescent Moon perform on July 4th at the Barkers Island Pavilion in Superior. 2 / 3
Zakk Grandahl and Bella Hanson of Superior perform "All Right Mama" during Celebrations of Music, which airs Saturday and Sunday on WDSE-TV, Channel 8. 3 / 3

Shane Nelson of Crescent Moon hasn't given up on sharing his music.

After traveling to Nashville, Tennessee, last year to audition for "American Idol" as the "Northland Idol" winner — and not being selected for the show — Nelson is back in the running for a national competition, still feeling encouraged.

None of the silver-ticket winners like him who auditioned were selected, and it was still a great trip that included a stop at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, he said.

"He recently submitted an original song, 'The Music Saved my Life,' to an organization called 'Celebration of Music,'" his sister, Carolyn Nelson-Kavajecz, said in an email. "His song and performance were accepted, and he qualified to participate in a PBS television special that focuses on musicians."

Nelson-Kavajecz said the winner will have a chance to perform nationally on PBS.

And this weekend Northlanders will have an opportunity to vote for that winner.

The show, hosted by Ethan Bortnick, recognized by Guinness World Records as the youngest solo musician to headline his own concert tour, is a search for young talent across America.

Nelson submitted his original song during a talent roundup. He said he doesn't remember if there were 100 or 200 entries, but he was one of 16 individuals and groups selected as finalists.

Nelson grew up in Superior, and his musical journey began at age 6 when he picked up his first guitar. His musical influences include the Beatles and Buddy Holly — performers his mom used to play in her minivan. However, his dad, who taught him how to strum his first guitar, was a major influence.

As a young child, Nelson struggled in school and faced childhood bullies, and music became his creative outlet and a motivating factor in his life, according to Nelson's "Celebration of Music" profile.

"It's a song about how I grew up kind of with music by my side my whole life and how it influenced and has developed me into the man that I am becoming," Nelson said.

Nelson spent years immersing himself in music, learning other instruments. In middle and high school, he became serious about songwriting, and began creating musical works of art that listeners can relate to. While in high school, Shane formed the band Crescent Moon and eight years later, the band is still together, putting their own twist on cover songs and originals while traveling the Midwest.

Nelson said tickets for a Bortnick concert at Mitchell Auditorium the last Sunday of September will be sold during the "Ethan Bortnick Celebrations of Music Talent Search," which features selected performances and airs at 8:30 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday, aired on WDSE-TV, Channel 8.

Nelson isn't the only musician representing Superior in the competition.

Zakk Grandahl, 24, and Bella Hanson, 16, met in June at a local music jam and were thrown together on stage, and it just clicked, according to the contest website. The Superior duo, both fans of Elvis Presley, will be performing one of his classics, "That's Alright Mama."

"Music has always been a really big part of my life and I decided to do more than just play around town and such," Hanson said. "This is exciting. I can meet other musicians through this."

Also performing are Rufina Robbins, 17, a singer and recent graduate of Superior High School, and an eclectic duo from Superior, guitarist Nick Muska and violinist Lauren Cooper.

People can vote for their favorite performers at celebrationofmusic.com/duluth-mn after the show airs on WDSE-TV. Voters must have an email address and only one vote is permitted per email address.

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