Reporting Kurt Wolff
Marty Brown is having a great year so far. After wowing judges during an early audition for America’s Got Talent, the Kentucky native and 1990s country star moved on to the next level of the TV competition–a second audition in Las Vegas.
During that Vegas audition, which aired last night (July 17), Brown sang a moving version of Keith Whitley’s song “When You Say Nothing At All.” And once again, he earned enough praise for his performance to move on again–this time to New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
As with the widespread acclaim for his first audition (where he covered Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love”), Brown attributes his newfound notoriety entirely to his wife Shellie, who is responsible for his appearance on the show (she tricked him into appearing–though he didn’t seem to mind one bit). As he tells the TV audience, if Shellie hadn’t “kidnapped” him and driven him to that initial audition, “I wouldn’t be here in Vegas right now. I’d probably be laying a tile floor with my buddy.”
“My wife Shellie, she is the love of my life,” Brown says. “I could fill up five rolls of film telling you how much I love my wife.”
As with that first audition, Brown’s additional appearances on America’s Got Talent are not only bringing his longtime fans out of the woodwork (many of whom had been wondering what he’d been up to over the last decade), but earning him a whole new audience in the process.
Brown never had a major radio hit, though his three albums for MCA Nashville (1991′s High and Dry, 1993′s Wild Kentucky Skies, and 1994′s Cryin’, Lovin’, Leavin’) were all critically acclaimed at the time and still hold up well today. Listen to songs like “High and Dry,” “Every Now and Then,” “Wild Kentucky Skies,” and “It Must Be the Rain.” Brown recorded a fourth album in 1996 for HighTone Records; and during the last decade he’s also released a series of CDs that he and his wife sell themselves by mail and at his live shows (which are mostly in and around his home state of Kentucky).
He’s also been posting songs on his own YouTube channel, a mix of originals and covers–including a full acoustic version of the Keith Whitley song he performed on America’s Got Talent last night.
Brown is among 60 contestants who move on next to the show’s series of live auditions at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. The next episode of America’s Got Talent airs July 23 at 9pm ET on NBC.