Arkansas City native Michael Sturd is following his dreams — right to the stage at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita.

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

Sturd, who graduated from Arkansas City High School in 2007, will perform with RaeLynn — and opening for country star Blake Shelton — on Sept. 22.

RaeLynn is not the only act with whom Sturd is performing. He also is playing drums for pop-country artist Lindsay Ell.

His passion for music began long before his relocation to Nashville, though.

Early influences

“My love of music came from just growing up around it,” Sturd said. “My dad (RCB Bank Arkansas City market president John Sturd) sang in the church choir. My family always had music playing in the car or around the house.”

Sturd started playing the drums at Central Christian Church at a very young age.

Local musicians Vic Olmstead and Nancy Warren were among the first to share a stage with the young Sturd.

“(Hans) Judd and Mr. (Chris) VanGilder, and the college music director at the time, Gary Gackstatter, were all huge influences and encouraged me to stick with music into college,” he said.

Sturd and his faith

“My faith plays a HUGE part in my journey,” Sturd said.

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

In the effort to meet his goals, he said his faith has been tested constantly.

Some of those trials have resulted in his wanting to quit.

Despite that, though, he has risen above the struggles and been able to find a steady gig.

“Success isn’t measured by fame. It’s measured by, ‘Can I pay my bills? Can I make a living?’” Sturd said.

“My dad told me a long time ago, ‘If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.’ That’s the motto that I have been living by ever since I moved to Nashville,” he said.

He has received consistent support from his family. “They’ll actually all be in Wichita on Thursday, when I play Intrust Bank Arena for the first time,” he said.

College and early career

Sturd attended Kansas State University, and studied under music professors Kurt Gartner and Frank Tracz.

While attending K-State, Sturd performed with the marching band, wind ensemble, concert band, jazz ensembles and trios, percussion ensemble, symphony orchestra, and volleyball and basketball pep bands. He graduated in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in music.

After college, Sturd chose to move to Nashville. “The only music cities that really exist are (Los Angeles), New York, Austin (Texas) and Nashville,” he said.

“Nashville was the most appealing to me because of the variety of music that happens here.”

As a fan of both country and contemporary Christian music, he though the scene in Nashville was the best crucible in which to find success in the industry.

As an added bonus, he has family who live near the country music capital. They let him stay with them while he began his career.

“(It) was a huge blessing,” Sturd said.

Career goals

When he moved to Nashville, Sturd created a list of goals — a handful of things that he wanted to accomplish. They included:

  • Landing a steady gig.
  • Performing at the Grand Ole Opry.
  • Performing at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita.
  • Performing at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.
  • Performing at The Gorge Amphitheater in Washington state.

“So far, I’ve done all of those things this year, except for play the Sprint Center,” Sturd said in an interview Sept. 18.

The Opry was checked off the list Aug. 3, when Sturd performed with Lindsay Ell.

Two days later, the Gorge Amphitheater was ticked off the list.

“And now this Thursday, I get to play Intrust Bank,” Sturd said. “The last two months have been very exciting.”

He also has added new goals of performing at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City and to pursue more studio work in Nashville.