When Noah Davis performed “Stay” at the Tech’s Got Talent semifinals during Homecoming 2017 week at Arkansas Tech University, no one in the room knew how far that song would take him a mere 10 days later.
Davis’ singing and piano playing on the Rihanna hit earned him the top prize at the 90th National Future Farmers of America Convention and Expo talent competition in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Oct. 27.
The ATU student from Hot Springs performed the song before an estimated crowd of 6,000 during the contest finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday night. His victory earned him the opportunity to perform again the next day before a crowd of 10,000 at Lucas Oil Field.
“First of all, I love Rihanna,” said Davis. “She is such an artist, and all of her music is amazing. It’s already a slower song, so it transferred well to playing piano. It’s one where you can show your emotion and get the crowd involved with the song through the way you emote the words of the song. I thought if I was going to be in front of a big crowd and behind a piano, a really good way to have stage presence is to sing an emotional song. If the crowd doesn’t get into what you are singing, or if they don’t know the song, they don’t react as well.”
Davis first became involved in music as a child through his church.
“It’s been a part of me since I can remember,” said Davis. “It’s stress relief, and it’s art. It’s a way to express yourself. I love taking a song and making it completely new by doing it a whole, brand new way that I’ve never heard before.”
That’s exactly what he did for his performance in the National FFA finals by taking a 2013 pop hit and adding his talent on piano to make the song his own.
“I was extremely surprised,” said Davis when asked about the moment his name was called as the winner. “The other finalists were so talented. It could have gone any way. They did a phenomenal job in the final three, so when they called my name I was taken aback by it. I was overwhelmed, and we had that moment where we were hugging because we were all happy with whatever place we got and excited for each other.”
Davis has been involved with FFA since eighth grade. He credits the organization with helping him build his leadership skills and much more.
“My communication skills…meeting people…interpersonal skills…(FFA) really is such a giving organization to the people who are involved in it,” said Davis. “To be able to share my passion for music and my passion for agriculture all in the same organization really was cool for me.”
Davis is majoring in nursing at Arkansas Tech.
“Tech is an amazing campus,” said Davis. “It’s not so huge that you pass people you don’t know all the time, but it’s not so small that you feel like nothing is happening. You meet so many people. The academics are amazing. My teachers are wonderful. They really strive to help you be successful, and I really like that about our teachers. There are opportunities in arts, academics, campus ministries, everything…if you want to be involved, (Tech) has somewhere for you to get involved.”
With a national title to his credit, Davis is evaluating how far he might be able to go in the music industry. He hasn’t ruled out the possibility of auditioning for the NBC singing competition “The Voice” or finding another route to make a career out of his passion.