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By Josette Keelorfirstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Samuel Leon Porter graduated from Skyline High School in Front Royal on June 18. The day marked the end of an era and a new beginning for him, but as exciting as it was for him and his family, graduation paled in comparison to the news he received about 10 days earlier.
He might have dreamed of the moment, he might have planned for it for years, but he says he never expected it to happen.
After all, how many young songwriters or rap artists from small towns across the U.S. have record producers calling to offer them a contract?
"It's been pretty cool, coming from Front Royal, a small town," said the 17-year-old, who plans to use Porter as his stage name.
"It's been a lot of work, but it's been fun," Porter said of the experience so far. "It's been something I've been wanting to do."
He's been writing his own lyrics and making videos with his friends since he was in middle school, he said, and until recently he posted them to YouTube. It didn't take long before he had a following, and pretty soon it wasn't only his fans who took notice.
The Intervals Music Production Firm LLC signed him as a hip-hop artist, and Porter plans to release his first single, "Swag," through Jay Allie Music Group on iTunes on July 31.
The day after his high school graduation, he and his family left for a vacation in Miami before Porter headed to Texas to shoot promotional photos and begin recording his single. He said he wanted to spend time with his family while he could since he wasn't sure when he'd be home again. He hopes to be back for Skyline's homecoming in the fall.
Though success seems to have come quickly and easily for him -- he already has 44,000 followers and counting on Twitter -- Porter is the first to admit that he's lucky. He also offers up thanks to God through frequent tweets on his Twitter page.
"It was all pretty quick ... the followers," he said in a phone call from Texas. "I never really thought it was possible."
For a while, fans could watch and tweet about his videos on YouTube, but when his account was hacked, he took it and all his homemade videos offline. Still, his loyal fan base on Twitter waits for the release of his single, as well as the launching of his website, www.officialporter.com, which currently is under construction.
"People kept re-tweeting my stuff, and a lot of them are really anticipating the music," he said.
Some of his artistic influences are Drake, Kid Cudi, Lil Wayne and Chris Brown, Jay Allie wrote in a promotional email.
"I always liked music," Porter said. "It's a good way to release [emotions]." He said he learned how to perform by watching videos on YouTube, "styling it ... just, like, doing videos of my own. Just trying to have fun with it."
In the beginning it all was just for fun -- writing his own music, performing with his friends and posting his songs online -- but the goal always has been to reach people.
"It's a fun thing," he said. "That's probably the best part about it, releasing what you actually do."
Though he's had some ups and downs trying to make a name for himself online, he has to thank the Internet for its merits.
"Of course. That's a very helpful tool. Very, very helpful," he said.
Mostly, though, he hopes to inspire other young people who have big dreams they fear they won't achieve.
"I just think it's a very big [deal], coming from a small place," he said. "No matter where you come from, it doesn't determine where you go."
Visit www.twitter.com/officialporter or www.theintervals.com for updates on Porter's single.