By Josette Keelor
Samuel Porter isn't afraid to dream big. Two years ago when he graduated high school and signed a record deal with Jay Allie Music Group -- both in the same week -- his dreams became reality.
So it's no wonder his latest big decision was born from a dream. He dreamed his name was spelled out on a billboard, only it wasn't his name exactly. The sign read "Maja Porter" -- pronounced like "major," without the "r."
"And that was my name," said the former Front Royal resident. The next day he made it official.
He's had vivid dreams before, but this one was different.
"This one kind of seemed more important," he said.
The last two years have been a whirlwind of opportunities for the Skyline High School grad-turned hip-hop artist. He released his first single "Swag" in 2011 and plans to begin promoting a new album this summer. Also this year, he landed a bit role in the film "Scary Movie 5," in theaters now.
"They call me a promotional extra," he said, explaining that filming for his scene, "Black Swan," lasted an entire night last October.
Now back in Front Royal for a month-long visit, he wants to give back to fans and friends.
Friday evening he plans to be at the Front Royal carnival at Bing Crosby Park to meet fans and sign autographs.
He's had a blast building his career over the last two years, but mostly he's in awe of how well things have come together.
One of his most memorable moments was meeting R&B artist Keyshia Cole and attending a video shoot she did in Atlanta.
"It's surprising to me that all has happened," he said. "Two years goes by so quick. It is pretty cool."
Porter said his schooling in Front Royal prepared him for his career. He had perfect attendance all through school, and he said he earned academic excellence awards for maintaining all A and B report cards.
"I never really liked school, but I was so good at it," he said. Songwriting came easily too, and it's become more fluid with practice.
"It's like a second nature to me. I really do feel like I honestly love what I'm doing right now," he said.
"And I don't think I would change it for the world."
He even graduated a year early by doubling up on English classes in his third year of high school. He credits Principal Andrew Keller with helping him succeed.
"I got approval from him [to increase the course load]," Porter said.
"He always told me I was a leader," Porter added. "Just looking back on that, I guess he was right."
Talking recently from his home in Front Royal, he recognized his role now as someone to whom fans and younger teenagers look for guidance. It's the same sort of feeling he's had when meeting mentors in the business.
"Just to have a platinum artist tell me I'm heading in the right direction..." he said, "the positive attention's really kept me alive in the business."
But it isn't all encouragement; sometimes it's being in the right place -- and having a little bit of luck.
"I opened up for Travis Porter," he said. Because the two artists share the same last name and perform the same type of music, the 19-year-old remembered initially meeting with uncertainty of whether or not the two should pair for that concert.
"They kind of had to deal with it," he said.
Maja Porter will be at the Front Royal carnival Friday to meet fans. His singles "Swag" (under the name Porter) and "Pop Dat Drop Dat" are on YouTube.
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or email@example.com