LUKE FORTNER

" I used to sing with sound tracks all the way up..."

Luke began performing at the age of three, taking piano lessons, and later learning guitar. While other children were playing hide and seek in their clubhouses, Luke's parents actually built him a stage in his basement for him to practice on as a kid. Beginning his career as a solo artist, Luke saw the need to develop his talent through AMTC, an experience he equates as invaluable.

That awareness transitioned to Luke's stint with Relinquish; traveling long nights on the road, working at McDonald's to pay the bills, all while attending college and assisting with worship at his church.

A final three contender to play KingsFest, one of the largest festivals in Christian music, and booking his own tours until recently signing with a prominent management team in Virginia, Luke is a prime example of how hard work and perseverance can eventually pay off.

What did you learn from SHINE and how has it shaped your musical career today?

I learned a lot about how to handle myself in public. Also the networking was incredible- just getting everyone all over the country together. Getting to meet all kinds of people, and to keep up with other performers even today. Meeting the producers and some of the networking I've done now have helped the band get where it's at today.

How did you guys form your band? Were you together before you went to SHINE?

(Laughs) I started the band after this little thing called puberty and the voice change. I used to sing with sound tracks all the way up and everyone that I worked with before, they were always like, "You need to write your own music." So, right before SHINE, back in 2010, we started the band. And it's taken me way beyond what I dreamed of. Right now we're opening for national acts. But that's initially how it began. We started writing our own music, and now some of those songs are on the radio. We've opened for Sanctus ReelColton Dixon, and Hawk Nelson. I could keep going but that's how it initially got started.

What instruments do you play and how would you describe Relinquish stylistically?

We're a four-piece rock band. It's contemporary Christian based, but more Third Day style. I play piano and guitar; I started piano when I was in second grade, and I started playing guitar about three years ago. I don't know who's reading this, but I definitely encourage anyone who is learning to play an instrument, if you don't play an instrument, you need to learn to play piano.

Were you guys all friends before?

Yes and no. We've rotated a couple members- it started out with six and now it's down to four.

You mentioned you're a four-piece rock band. Why do Christian music?

We've been raised in Christian families, but the main reason is we all see a need- in high school and college, there's such a need and struggle in the world, and the way it's going down is, nobody stands up or says anything, you know? Christians are going to be on the outsource quick.

You guys have made appearances on CBS, NBC, and several major networks.

Our music video is on KTV; it's on Dish Network. With CBS and NBC we've done several local networks especially around the different cities we go into. No major shows right now, but we're working on a deal in West Virginia. And we've performed live on most of the shows; it's acoustic shows mostly. We've performed live and there are videos out still on those networks.

Was playing live on TV nerve-racking to you at all?

The first time, yeah, it was. It's weird because when you're playing on camera, you have to sit and think, there are thousands of people watching, but you're just singing to a room. It's kind of like a studio session, but it's live, and you can't really mess up.

Relinquish has opened for several prominent Christian artists such as Sanctus Reel, and Colton Dixon. Did you have the chance to hang out with any of those guys, and what was that like?

Oh yeah, definitely. Sanctus Reel- they were super chill, super awesome; we had lunch with them backstage. We opened for 7eventh Time Down a few times, and they've been like father figures in a sense; they really take the time to sit down and make us feel like we're part of a family. I think we'll be working with them again this fall. Colton Dixon is a cool guy too; he's really humble.

What are some struggles your band has faced trying to be successful in the music industry? What would you tell someone attempting to make it as an artist today?

The struggle right now is our age because we're so young, but after we play or we do an event, they always want us back. Getting to open for national acts is kind of the same; one group saw us perform and said, "Oh we heard real music, but we saw a bunch of kids on stage" (laughs). So we didn't know if that was a compliment or negative feedback! They were cool after we played, but that's kind of the struggle right now. That, and just getting out there with national radio play and everything. But advice wise, never give up. You have to be persistent, and it's not going to be an overnight thing. Patience is huge. Patience is something I struggle with. But God has been opening doors slowly, and I think He's been doing it in His time. We're doing sixty to seventy-five shows a year now, and hopefully next year we'll be at one hundred to one hundred twenty shows.

One last question- you seem like a very goal oriented guy. What sort of goals do you have for the future, for the band, and for yourself?

I don't just want to have hit songs; I want to create music that inspires young people. One goal that I have is to actually mentor younger artists, and that's something I don't see that's done very often.