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Up-and-comers Gloriana add to WE Fest line-up

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Up-and-comers Gloriana add to WE Fest line-up
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DETROIT LAKES, Minn. -- By any measure, the musical foursome known as Gloriana has become one of the most successful up-and-coming young acts in country music today.

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Besides releasing their debut album in 2009, the group has opened for country heavyweights like Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, Leann Rimes and the Zac Brown Band -- all in the past year.

Along the way, the band has picked up such accolades as Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the 2009 American Music Awards -- against the likes of Lady Gaga, Kid Cudi and Keri Hilson -- and Top New Vocal Group of the Year at the 2009 Academy of Country Music Awards.

Gloriana recently finished up a gig as the opening act for fellow rising star Taylor Swift on her globetrotting Fearless tour, and are now in the midst of their own, fan-named, Long Hot Summer Tour, which winds up in September.

Before then, however, their tour will be making a stop at Detroit Lakes' own WE Fest country music extravaganza Thursday.

"We're very excited," said Tom Gossin, who helped form the group with younger brother Mike just three short years ago. (They were joined in short order by Rachel Reinert and Cheyenne Kimball.)

"We've heard a lot about WE Fest," Gossin said, referencing the fact that former tourmate Taylor Swift appeared at the festival for two years in a row (2008-09).

After spending the past year as an opening act, Gloriana is ready to make the transition to headliner this summer.

"We're having a great time, playing longer sets and showing people what we can do," Gossin said, adding, "The only job I've ever had since age 16 was playing music, and this (headlining) is the pinnacle of that."

Though Gloriana has only been together for a few short years, all four members have been working musicians for more than 10 years.

It's been a long road for the foursome since they started touring in December 2008, to promote their self-titled debut album and chart-topping single "Wild At Heart" -- but they wouldn't have it any other way.

"We've been on the road since the first week of December in 2008," Gossin said. "We haven't really been home since then, but we all love music and traveling, so we're just glad to have the good fortune to be able to do this every day."

All four members of the group write their own music, and many of the tunes on their debut album were co-written with some of the best and brightest of Nashville's songwriting community.

This fall, at the conclusion of their Long Hot Summer Tour -- which was so titled as the result of an online contest where fans submitted their favorite ideas for tour names -- the group will be heading into the studio to record a second full-length album.

After that, they will be heading overseas for a tour of U.S. naval bases in Europe and the Middle East.

"We're excited to go over there and do what we can to help the morale of the Americans who are doing the work for us over there -- we really appreciate what they do, and want to show that appreciation to them."

Gloriana will take the WE Fest stage at 4:15 p.m. Thursday. They are part of an opening-day lineup that includes regional favorites 32 Below as well as Randy Houser, Montgomery Gentry and headliner Keith Urban.

Shane Wyatt to close out Thursday performances

Country singer-songwriter Shane Wyatt is ready to keep the party going for country fans at WE Fest on Thursday. Wyatt and his band will perform on The Ranch stage after Keith Urban's headlining performance, starting at 12:15 a.m.

Wyatt is no stranger to the country music festival crowd, having performed on the big stage at last year's Country Fest in Cadott, Wis., along with country superstars Joe Nichols, Kellie Pickler and Montgomery Gentry.

He will also make a return appearance at Firefest in Cold Spring, Minn., today with Smoke 'N Guns, Bombshell, Little Big Town and Emerson Drive.

While tearing up the country charts with songs from his debut album, "The Last Cowboy" -- including "The Big Bad Dog," "Whole Lotta Love" and "She Could Do Better" -- Wyatt has shared the stage with his hero Randy Travis ("probably my biggest thrill," he said), The Bellamy Brothers, Eric Church and Phil Vassar, to name a few.

But this is Wyatt's first visit to WE Fest -- and he can't wait to get on stage at the Soo Pass.

"We're really looking forward to it -- we've heard a lot of good things about it," Wyatt said in a Tuesday telephone interview.

"I've been in country music all my life," he continued. "I was a fiddle player, so I just sort of grew up playing in country bands."

Wyatt started playing the fiddle when he was 10 years old, and picked up the guitar four years later, when he decided he wanted to be a serious songwriter.

"Fiddle is kind of a rare instrument, so it was easy to find work even when I was really young," he said. "When I was 14, I picked up the guitar -- mostly so I could write fully structured songs. It's tough to write songs if you don't play guitar or piano."

Though he had been writing his own lyrics and music since he was 10, "I was probably 14 or 15 before I wrote anything good," Wyatt said with a laugh.

In the early days, much of what Wyatt wrote was drawn upon his own life -- "really personal things that had happened to me, or someone I knew."

"I still write that way a lot, but as I got older I got to be a little more observant of the world around me, and to write things that may not be specifically about me, but that I could relate to," he added.

Wyatt also began working more and more with co-writers; when he begins recording his second album this fall, about half of the content will be co-written songs, while the other half will be solo efforts.

Also at WE Fest

Local favorites 32 Below will be the featured performers at Wednesday night's WE Fest Kickoff Party, starting at 9 p.m.

Like Wyatt, Troubadour and Hitchville will also take after-party performance duties on the Ranch stage, on Friday and Saturday nights, respectively. Both will take the stage at 12:15 a.m.

Others slated to perform during WE Fest's three-day run include Troubadour, Eric Church, Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean and Kid Rock on Friday; and Hitchville, Joe Nichols, Gretchen Wilson, Dierks Bentley and Kenny Chesney on Aug. 7.

The Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Herald are owned by Forum Communications Co.

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