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'Glee' star to perform Medford concert

Derik Nelson of "Glee" and "The Voice" fame says stepping outside his comfort zone has been the key to his success.

"Every time I've taken a risk, a door has opened. Every time I've put myself out there, there's been a positive result," he says.

Nelson grew up in Olympia, Wash., then attended a year of college at the University of Michigan before considering a transfer to the University of Southern California to be in Los Angeles — the epicenter of America's pop culture entertainment industry.

"Moving to L.A. was a huge risk and a huge obstacle I felt very unsure of," he recalls. "It scared me to move to a big city on my own where I didn't know anyone."

The move paid off, and Nelson eventually landed roles in television shows that include "Glee," "How I Met Your Mother" and "The Voice."

"Being on 'Glee' was a huge breakthrough. It allowed me to get my foot in the door and eventually have my own independent musical career," he says.

Nelson, a singer, songwriter and guitar player, is now using his popularity to help schools throughout the West Coast raise money for their music and drama programs.

Backed by a full, live band, Nelson will play a 90-minute rock and pop concert at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 3, at North Medford High School, 1900 N. Keene Way Drive. Tickets cost $10, $20 or $30 and can be purchased at the activities offices at North and South Medford high schools, online at deriknelson.com/tour or at the door. 

Proceeds benefit the Medford Schools Foundation and performing arts programs at both North and South Medford.

Nelson says he will spend about half of the concert performing his own original songs and the other half playing covers of songs in the Top 40 pop genre that includes singers such as Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars and Michael Jackson. A 20-foot video wall will add visual spice to the concert.

Nelson said he hopes to inspire young people to consider careers in popular music through his "Take Chances Tour." He helped pilot a popular music degree program at the University of Southern California.

"Popular music is the future of the music industry. I want to inspire people to be brave enough to pursue careers in music," he says. "My goal and my mission is to help other young people gain the skills and find the opportunities necessary to reach their dreams."

Nelson and his two siblings are all in the music industry. The morning after the concert, the trio will talk to students in an assembly about career opportunities in the arts, how to set goals and plan ahead, and how to take chances.

"We came up with this concert idea to bring something musically creative and visually exceptional to a high school stage that everyone in the community could experience," Nelson says. "We are passionate about the arts, music and about giving back. We see the budget cuts really affecting these schools."

The 2014 "Take Chances Tour" is Nelson's second time hitting the road to perform concerts and raise money for West Coast schools. A tour last year reached 10,000 students, and Nelson said he hopes to reach even more students this year.

Derik Nelson of 'Glee' and 'The Voice' fame is brining a high-powered pop concert to Medford. Photo courtesy of Ed Petersen