Ryan Innes had never considered making his passion for music into a career. That is, until "a really bad breakup" put things into perspective.
"We broke off our engagement three weeks before our wedding," Innes said. "I thought I would go into medicine. … (The breakup) changed my plans."
The returned missionary from Arizona had been focused on being a "responsible" adult. That meant pursuing a business degree, settling down and applying to medical school. But after the engagement didn't work out, Innes felt liberated to pursue a career in music.
"It was risky, (but) I knew that I loved music," he said. "It is in my bones."
Soon after arriving at the decision, Innes moved to Utah and enrolled in the media music program at Brigham Young University. While there, he participated in the performing group Vocal Point and began to establish his sound as a solo artist.
Innes says it's difficult to classify exactly what genre his music is, but all of his songs have a foundation of "grit, passion and soul."
"(My sound) is a healthy mixture of soul, acoustic, pop and jazz," he said.
Innes writes most of his own music and tends to compose songs according to his feelings and life experiences.
"You never know where (I) will go. I get inspiration daily," Innes said. "(Writing music) is therapy for me."
Since graduating from BYU in December, Innes has been focusing most of his attention on furthering his music career, writing on a regular basis and recording as much as possible.
Innes recently decided to compete in "Showcase," an online music and video contest sponsored by MormonTimes.com. He was voted as one of six finalists.
Besides competing in "Showcase," Innes is working with an independent music label in Nashville and hopes to release an album at the end of this year.
Innes' goals in music, aside from releasing an album, are not what the typical up-and-coming artist usually envisions. He doesn't strive to become famous. Instead, he wants to make music that has a positive influence on people and pays the bills.
"I don't need to win a Grammy, have a huge rock star following. … I just need to make enough money to support myself," he said. "I want to write quality music that means something to someone."
While Innes has not chosen the most conventional career path, he says he would not have it any other way.
"It's scary," he said. "But (music) is the only thing I can picture myself doing day in and day out."
The five other finalists in "Showcase" are Brandon Osmond, of Provo, Utah; Amy Van Wagenen, of South Jordan, Utah; Barry Hansen, of Idaho Falls, Idaho; Nicole Sheahan, of Provo, Utah; and Truman, made up of Chad and Ben Truman — brothers from Nashville, Tenn.
The six finalists will be featured at a live concert on March 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the Covey Center for the Arts in Provo. The top vote-getter, who will win a $5,000 first prize, will be announced at the concert. Second prize will be $2,000 and third prize will be $1,000.
To see the finalists' videos or to buy tickets to the concert, go to www.MormonTimes.com and click on "Showcase."