Oct 24, 2016 Sellers plans first album, concert
by Katie Kemp
Mike Kemp photos
Conway’s Tyler Sellers is no ordinary 15-year-old.
His enthusiasm for everything he does, from leading worship for his youth group to playing football for the Conway Wampus Cats, illustrates that he is a hard worker and puts his whole heart into his interests. This fall, Sellers will release his first album.
Making music has been a part of Sellers’ life for as long as he can remember. He belongs to a musical family, and the abilities that he feels were at first “expected” of him grew into a passion. When he received his first guitar about six or seven years ago, Sellers made it his goal to become a “really good musician,” and his journey to achieving this goal eventually led him to songwriting.
Three years ago, Sellers entered Blackbird Academy of Arts’ Alchemy songwriting competition. The song he entered, titled “Queen of Hearts,” tells of a girl that habitually steals boys’ hearts — hence the comparison to the fictitious villain. It was one of the first songs Sellers ever wrote, so he didn’t expect much to come out of the competition.
“My voice was really high in it,” Sellers joked. “They told me I made it to the finals, and I ended up winning the youth division that year.”
Being involved in the competition and ultimately winning it allowed Sellers to explore other genres and meet people who inspired him to write more songs that were even better. Freshly motivated with the win, Sellers decided to enter the competition again the next year with “Maverick,” a song that likens chasing your dreams to a surfer chasing the perfect wave. Sellers won the competition again with “Maverick.”
Following these consecutive wins, Sellers’ songwriting momentum continued to build. Where he once was only writing songs here and there, he was now writing them almost every week.
The momentum was catapulted even further when Tyler was signed to FretMonkey Records. Kevin Blake Goodwin and Dennis Cotabish of Conway established FretMonkey Records in 2015 after Goodwin won the Canadian Fingerstyle Guitar Competition in Ontario, Canada. The label built a state of the art recording studio in Conway and began to sign guitarists from around the world. The label now has 21 artists signed, with more than half of them coming from outside of the United States. A majority of the artists signed to the label are percussive finger style guitarists, but the label saw something unique in Sellers.
“I know he caters to the pop world, but he’s got an understanding of a mature musician . . . He’s well rounded in other music,” said Goodwin.
Sellers’ talent, excitement and work ethic at such a young age, partnered with the vision and expertise found at FretMonkey, have proven to be a perfect combination. After FretMonkey approached Sellers about signing, Sellers became the first singer-songwriter at the label. He and the FretMonkey team began working hard on writing, recording and producing an album. It was originally intended to be a solo acoustic-style album, but has evolved into a fully produced album featuring many additional musical elements.
After several months of writing and producing, Sellers’ debut single “Our Love is a Flame” was released on Aug. 19, with an accompanying music video released on YouTube the same day. The music video was filmed locally at Jamestown Ranch in Greenbrier.
More than 50 Conway High School students took part in filming the video, which complements the warm tone set by the song with shots of friends gathered around a campfire with Sellers strumming the notes of the song on his guitar. Since their tandem releases, the video has accumulated more than 32,000 views on YouTube, and the song has received positive feedback on iTunes and Spotify.
Sellers’ debut album “On the Inside” releases Friday, Nov. 18.
On Saturday, Nov. 19, Sellers will give a full production concert at Conway High School’s James H. Clark Auditorium. Sellers’ album will be available on iTunes, and tickets for his concert can be purchased at tylersellersmusic.com.
The concert will feature songs off of the new album, and ticket sales from the event will benefit Conway’s Choosing to Excel program. Sellers has been a mentor in the program and wanted to give back in some way.
“They’ve been a part of my journey during school . . . So I wanted to say thank you to them through my concert,” said Sellers.
Making an album is a huge undertaking for a high school sophomore, and Sellers has been grateful for all the support provided to him through the team at FretMonkey.
“You literally cannot do it on your own,” said Sellers. “We’re all working as a team to reach one goal, and it’s really been awesome. I’ve gotten to the point where when (FretMonkey) calls . . . I get excited.”
As for his future in making music, Sellers says he just wants to continue to better himself as a musician.
“I want to be successful, but I want to stay grounded, too . . . I just want to be the best musician I can be.” Sellers said. “Wherever we go with that in the next few months, I’m very excited.”