Dakota Neuman is thankful for two things he had growing up: a karaoke machine and a forward-thinking mother.
His mom, Tammy Neuman, homeschooled him for most of his life. She had a simple solution whenever he couldn’t sit through his schoolwork.
“She would tell me, ‘Go practice so you can focus,’” said Neuman, a Monroe native. “I’d sit with a karaoke machine and just sing. Then I’d be able to do schoolwork. That was my release. I’m thankful my mom realized that.”
The 22-year-old country singer-songwriter is the headliner for a holiday concert Friday at the Historic Everett Theatre.
Neuman, who lives in Nashville, will put his spin on Christmas classics like Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” and Chuck Berry’s “Run Run Rudolph.” He’ll also perform original music, including his debut single “Hometown.” The song, about life growing up in Monroe, has been streamed more than 1,000 times on Spotify since its release in August.
Theater manager Curt Shriner has been a fan of Neuman’s since the singer was 14. Shriner said he’s graduated from an opening act to a consummate performer.
“His stage awareness and how he interacts with the audience is so great,” he said. “You can really tell he’s become a professional.”
Concert proceeds benefit the Delta Rehabilitation Center in Snohomish, a nursing facility that cares for people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries.
“I go up there every time I’m in Washington and play for the (facility’s) residents,” Neuman said. “I love all of them and the people who are running it. It’s completely run by donations and a true not-for-profit.”
He’ll be joined on stage by local and regional rock ‘n’ roll, country and pop singers, including West Country Heat, a country dance team from Snohomish, and another Monroe native, Corrina Roppo, who sang the National Anthem before the “American Idol” show at the Evergreen State Fair this year.
Neuman has been singing since he was 6. He picked up the guitar at age 12.
When his grandfather died in 2008 from bladder cancer, Neuman channeled his emotions into songwriting.
“Seeing what he went through, and experiencing all those emotions, I had no other way to express myself besides putting some words down,” he said.
In 2015, Neuman was named the state Nashville Country Star champion. He was a senior at Monroe High School at the time. In the singing competition, held in Omak, Washington high schoolers perform rock ‘n’ roll, country and doo-wop covers.
The co-champions of the 2018 Washington Nashville Country Star competition, Anya Grimm and April Lawson, also will perform at the Dec. 21 concert.
Neuman moved to Nashville two years ago. He is working at a cowboy boot store to pay the bills while launching his music career.
The country singer hopes to release his debut album in 2019, then go on tour.
Have a ‘John Denver Christmas’
The Historic Everett Theater hosts another country-meets-Christmas concert on Saturday.
Ted Vigil’s “John Denver Christmas” is at 8 p.m. Dec. 22. The singer, songwriter and tribute artist has been touring with his John Denver tribute show for the past 10 years.
Vigil will perform selections from Denver’s Christmas albums “Rocky Mountain Christmas” and “Christmas, Like a Lullaby.” In addition to Christmas songs, Vigil also will perform some of Denver’s biggest hits, including “Rocky Mountain High,” “Back Home Again” and “Annie’s Song.”
“We have a lot of fun,” Vigil said. “It’s not stuffy at all. It’s a clap-along, sing-along show.”
Vigil, 54, was a rock drummer and singer for Seattle-area bands until 2006. That year, he won an international singing competition with his John Denver tribute show. Word quickly spread about Vigil’s uncanny resemblance to Denver and similar singing voice.
Even Denver’s lead guitarist, the late Steve Weisberg, found out about Vigil. They later toured together.
Weisberg, who died in 2014, helped Vigil replicate Denver’s voice, and talked with him about Denver’s life and songwriting process.
“It made me a better singer,” Vigil said, “studying John and using his voice as a musical instrument.”
Evan Thompson: 425-339-3427, email@example.com. Twitter: @ByEvanThompson.
If you go
What: “Hometown Holiday with Dakota Neuman”
Where: Historic Everett Theatre, 2911 Colby Ave., Everett
When: 7 p.m. Dec. 21
More: 425-258-6766 or www.historiceveretttheatre.org