4-H alumni Willie Spence earns runner up on American Idol

A feel-good story for the week — former 4-H youth earns the runner up title on ABC’s American Idol.

Amanda Radke

June 8, 2021

3 Min Read

Summer is here, and for many 4-H youth, the next three months are dedicated to working on livestock projects, developing new skills, preparing for the county and state fair, going to camps and learning to follow the 4-H motto, “to make the best better.”

It’s always exciting to see 4-H youth grow, learn, explore, and expand their thinking through applied, hands-on educational experiences that help them become strong, well-rounded, confident adults.

It’s even more exciting to see good works come to fruition, and 4-H was highlighted on the world stage recently when former Georgia 4-H member, Willie Spence, earned the runner up title in the 2021 American Idol season finale on May 23.

According to the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension news, “Willie Spence, who once took the stage as a member of the Georgia 4-H Clovers and Company youth performance group, rose to command one of the most recognizable stages in the world as runner up for the 2021 American Idol season finale.

“Clovers and Co. is no stranger to fostering icons. Many stars — including Jennifer Nettles, a member of Grammy Award-winning band Sugarland — have gotten their start in the Georgia 4-H program. In fact, Nettles and Spence are both from Douglas, Georgia, where their talents were cultivated through Georgia 4-H.

Related:Student manual helps youth be safe on the farm

“From the moment he auditioned at the start of the 2021 American Idol season, Spence left the judges in awe. With his soulful and emotional performances, he brought the judges to tears and Spence quickly became a fan favorite as he shared his story through song.

“Throughout the show’s season, Spence often spoke of how his experiences in Georgia 4-H shaped him into the man standing on the stage.”

Following his successful American Idol run, the 4-H organization tweeted, We are SO proud of how far this #4HGrown alum has come and we know this is only the beginning of his incredible journey! Here's to you, our idol, Willie Spence! Let’s give him some  love.”

Each year, Clovers & Co., performs its high energy show for 4-H events, civic groups, and state and national conventions. Founded in 1981, a cast of 4-H age singers, dancers, instrumentalists, and stagehands participate in this outstanding performing arts opportunity to promote and share with others the excitement, leadership, and talent evident in 4-H. Several graduates have gone on to careers in the music and entertainment fields. The show is primarily directed by volunteers, giving many hours to assure that all can be proud of the production.

Related:Activists target 4-H youth with vandalism at the county fair

You can watch Spence perform with the Georgia 4-H Clovers and Co. here.

Watch one of Spence’s American Idol performances, where he sang Ray Charles’ “Georgia On My Mind,” by clicking here.

While the news may be heavy lately, sometimes it’s nice to just pause and take a moment to celebrate the victories, achievements and happy moments of people involved in our agricultural community.

Please, share your good news and positive stories with me by emailing me at [email protected].

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

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