Local Special Olympics athlete and bluegrass singer to perform at Beech Grove High School

Nick Newlon tours the Midwest with Grammy-winning artist Clay Hess before attending college this fall

By Grady Gaynor

For Nick Newlon, overcoming obstacles is something only attained through never making excuses. Newlon is a young man who has many lifelong passions that he has worked tirelessly to fine-tune. Nick is a football manager, a Special Olympics athlete, and most of all, a highly talented bluegrass singer.

Newlon’s mother, Lynne Newlon explained, “We have never put a ceiling on Nick since the day he was born. He loves sports and he loves music. He has a perfect pitch, and confidently sings his heart out. My husband and I have been together 32 years and are so excited to see our son prosper.”

As a 20-year veteran of the Special Olympics competing in basketball, softball and bowling, Newlon has found a way to give back to the games he loves so much. Before attending his freshman year at East Tennessee State, Newlon has been touring all around the Midwest participating in the Indiana Fiddlers Gathering, the Earl Park Fall Festival, Ohio Bluegrass Winter Weekend, the Back 40 Bluegrass festival, and a showcase in Nashville, Tenn. at the Society for Bluegrass Music of America.

Nick Newlon has been passionate about bluegrass music his whole life and is using it to give back to the institutions that supported him. (Photos by McCaffry Photography)

“I grew up in a musical family going to festivals in many different states. Along the way I found a love and passion for bluegrass. Bluegrass means a lot to me because of the history of music, and I’m excited to learn more about it as I’m going to attend East Tennessee State University this fall and take bluegrass courses.”

This Saturday, July 9, at 7 p.m., Newlon makes a stop back where his passion for sports and bluegrass prospered, Mike McMorrow Auditorium at Beech Grove High School. Nick will be performing backed by Clay Hess and The Clay Hess Band. Hess was originally made famous as the lead guitarist for Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder where he won a Grammy award.

Hess and Newlon have recorded a CD together self-titled “Nick Newlon.”

The inside cover reads a note from Hess: “I first met Nick Newlon at a festival in Indiana. I talked with him for just a few minutes at the CD table, but the moment was cast in my mind. Nick is not someone you forget. The thing I remembered most about him was his passion for and knowledge of bluegrass.” Hess continues later, “The next time I saw him was a couple of years later at the SPBGMA convention in Nashville, Tenn. … My band had just played a showcase, and Nick and I were leaning against the wall next to each other. I have never met anyone who loves music as much as Nick Newlon. I knew at that moment I was supposed to record him.”

Nick Newlon and Grammy award winner Clay Hess will perform their new CD this Saturday at Beech Grove High School with proceeds benefitting the Marion County Special Olympics.

Mike McMorrow Auditorium is at 5330 Hornet Ave, Beech Grove. Beech Grove choir and band students get free admission as well as Special Olympians. All profits go to the Marion County South Special Olympics.

Nick Newlon and the Clay Hess Band

When: Saturday, July 9, 7 p.m.

Where: Beech Grove High School, Mike McMorrow Auditorium, 5330 Hornet Ave.

Admission: $10, CDs $20

Newlon said he is very excited for his upcoming show. “I’ve played in many festivals all around surrounding states,” he said. “I am thrilled that I am coming back to my old high school to perform in front of friends, family and Beech Grove neighbors.”