Maggie Thorn's dream sits on top of the country music charts

Friday, August 9, 2013
Maggie Thorn performs with her father, Tony Thorn, on Saturday at Bel Air Grill in Cape Girardeau. (Fred Lynch)

For Maggie Thorn, working during summer vacation from college doesn't include the usual stints in retail or waiting tables.

Instead, the 19-year-old from Bloomfield, Mo., performs at various Southeast Missouri venues to boost her budding career in the world of country music.

"If I can keep doing it and pay my bills, it will be my career," said Thorn, a sophomore at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. "Some No. 1 hits would also be nice."

Only time will tell whether Thorn will top the country charts, but this summer she has been busying herself with paying dues for a successful career. She has performed at dozens of area restaurants and functions, promoting her first album, "Gravel Road," while learning there's no such thing as having an "off night."

"You can't not show up for a performance," she said. "You have to be at your best for the fans. It's my job."

A commercial-voice major at Belmont with a minor in music business, Thorn has been showing up for performances since an elementary school Christmas play in which she played Mrs. Claus and had many singing parts. It was during the play when her mother, Lara Thorn, realized her daughter possessed an exceptional vocal ability.

"When she opened her mouth, it was like, 'Wow, she has a voice,'" Lara Thorn said.

Thorn also earned a place in the Heartland Children's Choir and would "always sing" in the choir at the United Methodist Church in Bloomfield. By the time she was 12, she started entering vocal competitions at county fairs. At 15, she finished third at the Campbell Peach Fair in Campbell, Mo., which was enough to qualify her for a spot in the Mid-South Fair Youth Talent Contest in Southaven, Miss.

"I was a little intimidated and nervous about the Mid-South Fair," Thorn said. "I was in the 15-to-21 age division, and I was barely 15. People like Justin Timberlake, Patsy Cline and Elvis had performed there."

Thorn said her jitters faded quickly after she took the stage to sing Patsy Montana's "Cowboy's Sweetheart." Nervous or not, her talent was such that she was named the winner of the grand prize -- $3,000 and "a huge trophy."

Maggie Thorn says “you have to be at your best for the fans. It’s my job.” (Fred Lynch)

Winning the competition also led to a performance on "The Craig Ferguson Show" in Hollywood, but Thorn said she wasn't interested in using her success to land a "big-time" management contract.

"I didn't want to pursue that," she said. "I was more interested in getting booked locally. We bought a sound system and started playing gigs, mainly in the summer."

Thorn graduated in 2012 from Bloomfield High School, where she was all-district in choir and lead singer of a trio that won the national Beta Honor Society singing competition. She enrolled at Belmont University after her graduation, and the school's location in Nashville played no small part in her choosing to go there.

"They have a great music program there," she said. "It doesn't hurt that it's in Nashville, the capital of country music."

As Thorn continues her music career, she can count on her father, Tony Thorn, to help guide her.

"When Maggie expressed an interest to sing, it was natural for us to get behind her," said Tony Thorn, who accompanies his daughter on guitar during her performances. "I'm delighted to share the experiences with Maggie."

Tony Thorn knows about the music business. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he was on the road playing lead guitar in the band Southland, which opened for country-music headliners such as John Anderson, Asleep at the Wheel and Clint Black.

"I never dreamed we'd end up this way," Tony Thorn said, "but I can't imagine doing anything else. I'll be with her so long as she can put up with me."

Thorn said she is writing songs for her next album. She has been writing songs since she was 14 and, by her admission, some of them haven't been very good.

"But they are all my children," she said. "I have to love them all equally."

While Thorn continues to work toward a music career, she said she has a message for fans who have continuously appeared at her shows.

"I thank them so much for their support," she said. "I couldn't keep doing what I do without them."

For information on Maggie Thorn's future performances or to buy her CD, visit


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