NEW YORK CITY — Mountain Faith, a bluegrass band based in the mountains of North Carolina, will perform live at Radio City Music Hall after advancing to the third round of the NBC reality show, “America’s Got Talent.”
The 5-piece band is comprised of Sam McMahan, Luke Dotson, Corey Piatt, Summer McMahan and Brayden McMahan.
On Tuesday, July 28, judges of the popular reality show voted to send Mountain Faith to round three of the competition which will be filmed live in New York at Radio City Music Hall, the nation’s largest indoor theater.
Mountain Faith’s success will now rely on votes called in from viewers at home. The prize at stake is a choice of $1 million or the opportunity to headline a show in Las Vegas.
Although based in Sylva, Mountain Faith has strong ties to Ashe County. Dotson grew up in Fleetwood and graduated from Ashe County High School in 2008.
“Luke first showed interest in learning the guitar when he was in 2nd grade but did not pick it up again until around the age of 13,” Dotson’s mother Monika Dotson said. “He pretty much taught himself and would sit for hours picking until he got just one chord right or perfect. He fell in love with mountain music when he took Steve Lewis’ Mountain Music guitar class at Ashe County High School. He has always looked up to Steve Lewis and calls him a ‘Bluegrass God.’”
According to Dotson, whenever the group first discussed making a video to send in to “America’s Got Talent,” the band wasn’t sure how much interest there would be in a bluegrass band.
“We were just talking about it one day with the attitude of ‘whats the worst that can happen?’” Dotson said. “We entertained the idea of sending a video in just to see.”
After a couple months, the group eventually received a call back about the video.
“They called us a couple of months later and asked us to come do a private audition in St. Louis, Missouri, which was pretty cool because we were already at a festival in Missouri,” Dotson said. “We got really lucky.”
According to Dotson, Mountain Faith drove up for the audition the next day.
“We went to St. Louis but we didn’t really get any feedback,” Dotson said. “So we left thinking they hated us.”
After the audition the group was told that they would be contacted in a couple months regarding the outcome of the audition. After the deadline passed by at least a week, they finally received a call asking if they could come to New York and perform in front of the show’s judges.
“We had already accepted the fact that we didn’t make it, so it was a nice surprise,” Dotson said.
Mountain Faith headed to New York for their first TV audition on June 30 when they performed a rendition of “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic.
The band then performed a bluegrass twist of the rock song “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” by The Darkness during the Judges Cut round which aired July 28.
Dotson said the band will travel back to New York on Aug. 17 to prepare for their live performance at Radio City Music Hall. The live rounds for America’s Got Talent will broadcast live from Aug. through Sept..
It wasn’t long after Mountain Faith’s first TV appearance that they started to receive recognition from fans of the show. According to Dotson, the band was traveling to the coast of North Carolina the day after their first audition aired in a bus hauling their trailer which had the band’s name on it.
When the group stopped for gas a lady approached them after having followed the bus and trailer for nearly ten miles.
Dotson said the lady asked if they were the ones who had been on TV the previous night and was excited to meet the band in person.
“We got out and took a picture with her and her daughter,” Dotson said. “That was really cool and something that I’ve never experienced on that level.”
Support for Mountain Faith has been overflowing throughout the North Carolina mountains.
The Smokey Mountain Center for the Performing Arts recently held an America’s Got Talent viewing party on July 28 free of charge to support Mountain Faith.
“All of them are so humble and sweet and deserve every good thing that happens to them,” Monika Dotson said.
“I’d like to thank everybody for their support so far. It’s been overwhelming the amount of support that we’ve gotten from Ashe County and North Carolina. There are a lot of people who speak up and show their support and we are really grateful for that,” Dotson said. “Just to represent a whole state or region is just really humbling.”
Dotson said he isn’t sure what the plans are for Mountain Faith after “America’s Got Talent” ends, whether they win or lose.
“We’ve had some people call us about shows and really good opportunities,” Dotson said. “We are just taking it as it comes right now.”
“America’s Got Talent” airs at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays on NBC.
For more information about Mountain Faith, visit www.mountainfaithband.com.
Hannah Myers can be reached at 336-846-7164 or on Twitter @cmedia_hmyers.