Carson Lueders had a busy summer. He competed in the Colgate Country Showdown, a national talent competition designed to find the most promising country music talent. He was interviewed and sang on local radio station KIX96, and he won a motocross race at the Coeur d’Alene fairgrounds. And that was just one week.
On a recent Wednesday afternoon the second-grader at East Farms Elementary sat with his guitar instructor, Spencer Ramos, at Creative Music in Spokane Valley. Carson launched into a rollicking rendition of “Secret Agent Man,” a song made popular by Johnny Rivers decades before he was born.
His mother, Diane Lueders, said she decided to start Carson in guitar lessons because by age 4 he was showing signs of natural rhythm. “He’d stand in front of the TV and mimic Keith Urban,” she said.
Now 7, her blond, blue-eyed son launched into an up-tempo version of “Teddy Bear,” and asked a visitor to identify the original singer of the catchy tune. He made it easy by offering Elvis’ trademark curled lip and crooning growl.
After the song, Carson proudly showed off his guitar signed by Keith Urban. The family won front-row seats at a recent concert. “He told me, ‘When I grow up I’m going to be like Keith Urban and jam on my guitar,’ ” his mom said.
He’s well on his way, having already composed his first song, “My Dog Buddy,” a tribute to his yellow Lab. He wound his legs around the stool, his feet clad in black canvas tennis shoes, minus the laces, and closing his eyes; he began to sing about his canine pal.
As the song concluded Carson speculated about the playing abilities of his instructor. “I think I might be better than him,” he said. Then he grinned at Ramos, “It’s kinda like I’m teaching you and you’re teaching me.”
Ramos smiled back. “He’s teaching me to play faster,” he said with a laugh.
After a half hour of guitar it was time to head upstairs to work with vocal instructor Bianca Perry. “I like guitar lessons, but sometimes I feel tired when I go up to voice lessons,” Carson confided.
Videos of Carson singing “Stars Go Blue” at his school’s talent show reveal that even in the first grade, he had his own vocal styling. With a black cowboy hat perched on his head, he crooned, “Where do you go when you’re lonely? Where do you go when you’re blue?” And he concluded his performance with a haunting riff that elicited thunderous cheers.
The youngster has performed in several talent competitions, played worship music at his church and provided music for a neighbor’s Christmas party. But he’s still a kid, and it shows.
After warming up with a series of musical scales during his vocal lessons, it became apparent that Carson was ready to do something else. Singing wasn’t on his mind. He watched the clock and fidgeted.
Perry said, “Singing is very personal. You have to give a portion of yourself, and Carson is a perfectionist.”
When asked what he most enjoyed about his lessons, Carson said, “I like learning new songs best. It’s very challenging.”
Though momentarily reluctant to sing, he perked up at the mention of one of his favorite artists, Celine Dion. He grabbed his guitar and began to sing “My Heart Will Go On.”
“He’s got great pitch – very accurate,” Perry said. “He can do anything with his singing.”
Carson’s parents wrestle with the challenge of how best to affirm such natural ability, and yet maintain a normal life for their young son.
“It’s very difficult as a parent to encourage and develop a God-given talent,” Diane Lueders said. She added that in no way does she want Carson to feel pressured to be perfect, or to have his talent be his only identity and value.
She said he sings in the morning, sings in the car and listens to music each night as he falls asleep.
But for all that he does have other interests.
“I like motorcycling and fishing,” he said. The family lives on Newman Lake. “I fish off our old, stinky dock.”
He grins when he talks about racing his yellow Cobra motorcycle.
“I like to go fast,” he said. He’s already amassed a collection of Motocross trophies, or “dust collectors,” as his mother calls them.
His parents work hard to instill their family values into their precocious son.
“I continue to tell him being famous is not the goal, but to understand his music should be for the Lord’s glory,” Diane Lueders said. And Carson said when he performs he says, “I thank God for giving me talent.”
He hasn’t confined to ambitions to music alone. “When I grow up I want to be a guitar player and a doctor.”
Either way, his instructors at Creative Music are sure he will go far. “Hopefully, when he’s famous, he’ll remember me and buy me a car,” Ramos said.
That’s OK with Carson. “I’m gonna buy you an H2 Hummer or a Corvette,” he said.
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