VINCE Lathan Moore

Southern Illinois native Lathan Moore, now a Nashville recording artist, will make a special trip home for a concert at 10:30 p.m. Friday, March 15, at Poor Boys Lounge in Harrisburg. 

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Mining coal is excruciating work.

The long hours, relentless physical grind and deadly dust from the precious ore slowly takes a toll and eventually breaks down a miner’s body. It’s the only occupation many of the workers have ever known. Aware of the high cost they’re paying, they keep punching the clock.

Lathan Moore’s father has worked the coal fields of Saline County for 42 years and is currently employed by the American Coal Company in Galatia. Following in his dad’s footsteps, Lathan strapped on a hard hat for an abbreviated mining career.

“I have a deep appreciation for all my family and friends that work in the mines. It’s a very honorable profession and our quality of life is better for the sacrifice they are making,” said the 31-year old Moore, a native of Harrisburg. “It just wasn’t for me. I got out.”

With a background full of success in the theater program as Southeastern Illinois College and later as a highly regarded Southern Gospel vocalist, Moore knew he had constructed a solid foundation for his commitment to pursue his first love of music. He packed all his belongings and moved to Nashville in 2006.

Through seven years of trials and toil, Moore has paid some heavy dues and is currently reaping the benefits with a Dan Hodges Publishing deal and a recording contract with Render Records, one of the top independent labels in Music City.

Moore was in the studio late Monday night putting the finishing touches on new single “Burn Those Memories Down,” which is scheduled for national release April 1. He is slated to make a publicity stop at an Iowa radio station Saturday. Taking advantage of perfect routing, the record label arranged for the trip to start a day early so there was time for a hometown show.

Moore will be in concert at 10:30 p.m. Friday at Poor Boys Lounge in Harrisburg. There will be a $5 cover charge. Doors open at 5 p.m. Opening act Nick Ryan takes the stage at 9 p.m. Anyone attending the show must be at least 21 years old.

“It’s going to be a great time. I have a five-piece band with some outstanding musicians that will have the place rockin’,” Moore said. “I’ll do a lot of original material and mix in some standard party tunes.”

Moore grew up attending the Bankston Fork Baptist Church on the outskirts of Harrisburg. When he is back home visiting on a Sunday, he always brings his guitar and sings a couple gospel standards for the congregation.

“It is the oldest church in Saline County, dating back to the 1880s. We still have founding members that attend,” Moore said, chuckling. “A few of the members contacted me on Facebook and said they would love to come to the show, but just couldn’t because it’s in a bar.”

After graduating from Harrisburg High School in 2001, Moore toured the Heartland with the Eastern Sky country gospel quartet and was also lead singer for the Reliance Quartet in Paducah. His theater experience consisted of lead roles in “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Phantom of the Opera” and “Beauty And The Beast.”

His overall talent earned him a scholarship to Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas.

Not being exposed to very much country music during his childhood, Moore started soaking up the sounds produced in Texas dance halls and fell in love with the genre. He dropped out of school and came back to Liberty Coal in Saline County, working just long enough to finance a move to Music City.

Extraordinarily musically gifted, Moore plays guitar, trumpet, trombone and piano. His focus upon arrival in Nashville was to learn the art of songwriting. During his first couple years in town, he married a girl from Popular Bluff.

“I’ve got a very supportive wife. She is used to the crazy hours that I keep. We are in this thing together. My dream is her dream,” he said. The couple has a three-year old child.

Nearly three years of paying dues and learning the ropes in the country music business resulted in a record deal with Blue Steel Records in 2008. With popular songs like “Beautiful Girl,” “Nothin’ Like a Woman” and “Love in Your Life” to his credit, Moore garnered a nomination from the Independent Country Music Association in 2011 and opened the organization’s annual awards show with a rendition of “Love in Your Life.”

Moore’s career momentum hit a massive speed bump when Blue Steel unexpectedly went out of business in 2012.

“It’s tough down here,” Moore said. “You never know what is going to happen next. I was lucky enough to rebound pretty quickly and sign with a new label.”

Render Records is the brainchild of a group of songwriters, producers and a co-founder of Yahoo with a goal of finding top talent in all musical formats and getting their music straight to the fans as quickly as possible using various forms of social media.

VINCE HOFFARD can be reached at 618-658-9095 or vincehoffard@yahoo.com.

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