When Josh Kelley took to the stage Thursday at Evans Towne Center Park, he almost immediately donned a green visor bearing the Augusta National Golf Club logo.
Earlier in the day, before returning to his childhood stomping grounds in Evans, Kelley took in the first round of the Masters Tournament.
“Going out to the Masters today, it smelled so good,” Kelley said to hundreds of patrons at the concert also featuring Eric Paslay and Little Big Town. “It smells like home.”
The concert, dubbed Par Tee @ The Park, provided Columbia County officials the opportunity to formally dedicate the stage at the new park the Josh Kelley Stage.
Kelley’s brother, Charles, and longtime friend Dave Haywood, performed at the park in October. All three grew up in Columbia County and graduated from Lakeside High School.
Some at the concert reminded Kelley of his alma mater with chants of “Lakeside, Lakeside.”
Kelley recognized those fans before launching into his final song of the show and his first country hit, “Georgia Clay.”
“This is for my Lakeside peeps,” he shouted.
Along with Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Haywood form country supergroup Lady Antebellum, which is the namesake for the pavilion that contains the Josh Kelley Stage.
As a teen, Kelley played in bands with his brother and Haywood before leaving to attend the University of Mississippi on a golf scholarship.
Never giving up on his ambitions to become a musician, Kelley signed his first record deal in 2002.
As a pop artist, he produced four hits on the U.S. Adult Contemporary charts, including top 10 hits “Amazing” and “Only You.” While shooting the music video for “Only You,” Kelley met his wife, actress Katherine Heigl.
Kelley released his first country album, also called “Georgia Clay,” in November 2010. He charted with the title track and “Gone Like That.”
In recognition of his music success, officials unveiled a plaque built into a wall of the pavilion bearing Kelley’s image and noting his Columbia County heritage.
“Thank you so much,” Kelley said of the plaque. “Naming a stage for me is pretty huge. ... Thank you Evans and Columbia County.”