Jennings County's Rising Star

Singer-songwriter Ken Pahls
to compete in Nashville

By Ruth Wright
Staff Writer

NORTH VERNON, Ind. (February 2003) – Ken Pahls, a 32-year-old North Vernon singer-songwriter, was recently invited to Nashville, Tenn., to compete as a finalist in a talent contest sponsored by Fowler All Night Sings.
Pahls performed his song, “Crosses on the Highway,” in the semifinals last December in Branson West, Mo. The contest, said Pahls, was organized similarly to the television show, “American Idol,” where viewers could call in to vote.
Pahls said that he was notified by mail in January that he had made the finals. He will travel to Nashville on April 26 to compete alongside other finalists for the chance to win a recording contract valued at $100,000.

Ken Pahls

Ken Pahls

Pahls described his music style as a mixture of country and gospel. He has written about 27 songs, most of which are gospel but which he claims could easily cross over into the country music genre. Pahls said he has been performing for about 11 years, mostly at local churches and in contests.
Besides his own songs, he has performed the music of Garth Brooks in several competitions and has won many awards. In addition to singing at churches and in contests, Pahls performed at the famed Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, where many top country music artists such as Garth Brooks and Faith Hill, got their starts.
Pahls said he received a warm reception at the cafe, where he sang the same song, “Crosses on the Highway,” that made him a finalist in the Fowler contest.
The song, which Pahls said he was inspired to write after noticing a cross placed on a roadside, reflects the sorrow of losing life due to accidents caused by drinking and driving.
After he composed the song, Pahls learned that the cross he saw was placed at the site on Hwy. 50 at Wishing Well Road in Jennings County, Ind., by Robyn McClintock. McClintock placed the cross in memory of her daughter, Angela Darlene McClintock, who was killed at the location in 1999 when the vehicle in which she was riding was rear-ended by a drunken driver.
A vision that is all too common, the roadside memorial cross embedded the image of a song in the mind of Pahls and became the answer to a prayer. Pahls said he was divinely inspired to write the song, which he completed in just three days.
According to Pahls, many who hear the song think it is about his own life. Fortunately, it does not reflect his personal experience, but it does reveal an honest understanding of the tragedy and an admonition: “Need to think about the ones you love when you go to turn that key,” the lyrics say.
That message, said Pahls’ mother, Charlotte Pahls, has definitely served a purpose. “It has touched so many people’s lives,” said Charlotte who is a pastor and has shared the song with many people, including prison inmates to whom she ministers. “Every time I see them (the inmates), they want to sing the song.”
Charlotte also said that Judge John Webster of Jennings County allowed the song to be played in court when the driver of the vehicle that killed McClintock came up for a review of sentencing. There wasn’t a dry eye in the courtroom, she said.
Aside from inspiring many people, Pahls hopes his song will be the catalyst to his career in music. “My goal is to have it played where somebody can hear it.” But not just anybody. “I’ve just got to have someone high up who can hear it,” he said.
While the song has received radio station play in the Madison, Ind., area, Pahls still faces the challenge of breaking into markets with massive audiences, such as those in Nashville. For that to happen, Pahls said he needs to get his “big break.”
The contest in April may be just the opportunity for which Pahls has been searching. The winner of the contest will receive a contract that includes the professional production of a 10-song recording, promotion products and assistance and an appearance on television in Music City.
In the meantime, Pahls will continue to market his talent and sell his CD single of “Crosses on the Highway.” The single of the song was professionally produced by Jerry Webb at The Project Room in Nashville. To purchase a copy of “Crosses on the Highway,” contact Pahls at (812) 346-6706 or pahls777@yahoo.com.

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