Local hits charts in Nashville

Photo by Kristen Ralph

Photo by Kristen Ralph

CONYERS -- If you remember Matt Ferguson from Salem High School in the mid-'90s, you might not know he's a rising country star in Nashville now.

A few years after graduating from Salem High in 1995, he moved to Nashville to pursue his dream of becoming a country artist under the name of Matt Kennon.

"Since I was 4 years old, I have been playing music of some sorts growing up," he said.

He played drums and sang at Bethel Christian Church in Conyers and played drums in the jazz band at Salem High. Eventually, he played at area restaurants and bars and during events at the Georgia International Horse Park.

For the past six years, he has spent his time practicing his guitar and singing skills, songwriting, performing in showcases and networking with artists and others in the music industry in Nashville.

"I'm just trying to get better and better," said Kennon, who describes his sound as "country with an edge."

Last year, his life changed. He met music producer James Stroud -- who has worked with such country artists as Tim McGraw, Toby Keith and Clint Black -- through motorcycle rides and developed a business relationship with him. Eventually, Kennon inked a deal with BamaJam Records in Nashville.

Now everything else has fallen into place.

After co-writing "Turn It Around" for Randy Travis and opening for artists like Kenny Chesney, Colt Ford, "American Idol" finalist Kellie Pickler and other country stars, he's ready to release his self-titled debut in April.

But not before he's had a hit -- his song "The Call" already has made it to No. 39 on the Billboard country charts, and the video for the song has been played on Country Music Television and the Great American Country television station.

"It's all surreal and new," he said. "It's quite an adventure to reach semi-celebrity status."

Currently, Kennon is playing at various music venues in Florida and Alabama and hopes to make it back to Georgia soon to play his hit song for hometown fans. He also plans to continue writing music for himself and other artists.

"I have found a place and home in country music," he said.

Tour dates, songs and more information about Kennon are available at www.myspace.com/mattkennon and www.facebook.com/MattKennonMusic, and "The Call" also is available for purchase on iTunes.