DECATUR - Eric Burgett enjoys singing, playing the piano and composing songs.

The fruits of those labors have yielded recognition as a promising male vocalist by a Tennessee-based country music organization.

Burgett, a commercial music major at Millikin University, performed two of his songs, "Nothin' Better" and "Red Dirt Road," at the Country Tonite Theater in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. For his efforts, he was named most promising male vocalist of the year in the 17 to 20 age category and was also the overall runner-up during the North America Country Music Association International's 13th annual Country Music Week and Hall of Fame and Award Show in March

"It's a mini-version of the County Music Awards for up-and-coming musicians. (It was) good exposure," the Warrensburg-Latham High School graduate said.

Before the Pigeon Forge competition, Burgett was in the Colgate Country Showdown in the Rosebud Theatre in Effingham and sang during last year's Decatur Celebration. He also sings with one of the Millikin jazz choirs and will spend part of this summer singing with the Decatur Park Singers.

Burgett also manages to stay busy playing with a country music band composed of fellow musicians from Millikin, including Pat Anderson, acoustic guitar; Jake Widenhofer, electric guitar; Adam Cunningham, bass; and Sean McDonald, drums. Anderson is a junior from Elk Grove Village, while the others are all sophomores from Decatur.

Besides the performing, he also said he likes to teach piano and work with children.

Burgett is the son of Greg and Connie Burgett and has two brothers and a sister. The family operates Connie's Country Greenhouse and also has a 2,000-acre farm near Latham.

"Eric has been playing piano since he was 4 years old," Connie Burgett said. "My son Elliott and daughter, Tara, took piano lessons, too, but didn't stick with it like Eric has. He likes to do his own thing."

Eric took lessons at Millikin with Judith Mancinelli, his father said, and that proved to be a major influence.

Burgett apparently comes by his music ability honestly. Connie's mother played the piano at church, and Greg took guitar lessons.

However, it seems Eric found his calling early, much to the delight of his parents.

To book Eric Burgett's band, call 412-8731 or e-mail eburgettmusic@yahoo.com.

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