LUCK, Wis. - It took years of hard work and perhaps a little bit of luck, but a Luck, Wisconsin-native, is part of a Nashville country music group that has been nominated for two Academy of Country Music Awards.
Kale Nelson, 34, is the bassist for Love and Theft, a country music duo nominated for Vocal Duo of the Year and New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year. Nelson joined the group last August.
"I got involved with bands and just kind of took one step at a time, and got closer and met more and more people," Nelson said, on the phone from Nashville. "Then, finally, the opportunity came up and I just happened to be ready for it when it arose. And now to look back and reflect on it, it's kind of a cool thing. I mean, we didn't even have a traffic light in the whole county, I think, maybe one."
Nelson has always played music by ear. At Luck High School, he joined several garage bands and played percussion in the school band. His band teacher, Jennifer Gilhoi, remembers Nelson as a "down-home" kid who always had music in his soul. She says he even asked her to offer him private guitar lessons as an independent study in 1997, his senior year, which led him on a new path of singing and songwriting.
"He just a genuine person and I think that kind of comes through in his singing. He's a really good soul. I love that kid. He's grown up now, but he's still a kid to me," she said, while listening to one of his original compositions.
Ask anyone at his high school, he's had fans long before the fame.
"It's really exciting to hear when a small-town kid makes it big. He's just finally made it. It's awesome," said Junellyn Anderson, a family friend who works in the school front office.
The ACM awards are in Las Vegas in April, and Nelson says in May, Love and Theft will be playing with Tim McGraw.
"If you feel like you should be chasing something, do it. You only live once," said Nelson.
He encourages people to connect with him on Facebook or on Twitter - @kalewillynelson.
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