Mightier Than Me, GTCC’s homegrown band rises to the top

Wes Frank Norman (photo by Carrie Lilly)

By Aleasha Vuncannon

Wes Frank Norman was at a crossroads. After years trying to make it on his own as a professional musician, he was on the verge of giving up. A friend encouraged Wes to enroll in Guilford Technical Community College’s Entertainment Technology program. He saw GTCC as a final stanza in his quest to rekindle his love for music.

“Since my late teens, I always had aspirations to be a musician. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be and when I came to GTCC, I was half dead on music,” he explained.

Wes started classes in 2016 and his passion for music returned.

“My first instructor, Ron Barrans, gave an epic inspirational speech on that first day of class. In an instant my passion for music came rushing back. I remember thinking, ‘I can do this,’” said Norman.

Wes quickly regained his confidence and with the help of some fellow classmates, found himself back on the journey to become a professional musician.

They met on the first day of class. Wes Frank Norman distinctly remembers the first time he heard Randy Williams’ sing.

“We were in Ensemble, and the instructor asked if anyone had written music before. Randy spoke up and said he writes his own material. When he sang, I thought to myself ‘oh my!’ He was sitting beside me in class and I told him that day that we should start a band!”

That band would eventually become Mightier Than Me – GTCC’s first band, homegrown out of the halls of the Entertainment Technology. Wes and Randy quickly joined forces with fellow GTCC classmates Sarah Barker and Robert Justin Seawell at the end of the semester.

The four classmates realized they were on the same musical page and approached drummer Charlie Fuson to finish their lineup. After a couple of writing sessions, they knew that forming a band was the way to go.

In the summer of 2016, the group produced Mightier Than Me’s self-titled EP as part of the students’ Capstone Project at GTCC.

Thomas Johnson, GTCC’s Department Chair for the Creative and Performing Arts quickly recognized the talent of Mightier Than Me and encouraged their growth as a young band.

“We want to foster a sense of community among our students. To create a community center for creative and performing arts,” says Thomas Johnson, GTCC Department Chair for the Creative and Performing Arts. “We prepare students to work in the industry.”

“The knowledge of the instructors at GTCC is an invaluable resource. The teachers push us, give us advice, and share their wisdom,” said Wes.

The group’s EP release show was the first ever sellout concert at GTCC’s Center for Creative and Performing Arts in High Point. They followed the debut with an appearance at the Carolina Music Awards in August 2017 where the band won top honors as Rock Band of the Year.

“It was super exciting. We performed in Raleigh and attended a social on Friday with the other nominees. The awards ceremony was the next day at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. We walked the red carpet, which was cool.”

Mightier Than Me was among 10 nominees vying for the Rock Band of the Year title.

“They were all great bands. I think many were surprised we won because we are a young band. GTCC fast tracked us. The program is designed to teach you everything about the music business,” explained Wes.

With the Carolina Music Award Rock Band of the Year title in hand and an ever expanding list of performances, Wes and his fellow band members are looking to the future.

“We are in the process of producing our next album – a full 10 songs,” explained Wes.

When he is not performing, Wes Frank Norman serves as a student ambassador at GTCC. He enjoys sharing his story with prospective college students starting their own journey.

“I tell them it is never too late to pursue your dreams. I’m proof of that … it took me until my late 20s.”