Like my wheelchair? Me, too!

I am pleased to introduce Nathan Watt — an entertainer in the Great American Country Show at Dollywood — as a guest blogger today.


by Nathan Watt

Nathan WattMy name is Nathan Watt. I am a 23-year-old singer/songwriter and I was born with spina bifida. I have had 47 operations and spent a huge portion of my childhood just trying to stay alive, but with the help of God and my family I am thankful to be where I am today.

I ambulate using a wheelchair, and I can use leg braces to walk short distances when needed. This is the way I live my life, full of joy and to its full capacity. It’s always funny to me that people automatically assume that life in a wheelchair is painful and that I am bound or confined to the chair. I ask them to think about it this way: my wheelchair does not confine me, it frees me. Without my wheelchair I’d be stuck at home and living a fairly sedentary life. With my wheelchair, I am free to go anywhere anybody else can go.

Nathan backstage of Avenue Q

Nathan backstage of Avenue Q

My mom brought me up to be unstoppable. She taught me that where there is a will, there is a way, and that if I want something, I’ll have to work for it. I may not achieve my goals the same way everyone else does, but I achieve my goals. This attitude has helped me follow my dream of becoming a performer:

  • I received a full ride scholarship to Capital University where I earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Technology and Voice
  • While at Capital University, I played the lead role of Princeton in the musical Avenue Q
  • Later that year I auditioned at Dollywood
  • I graduated from Capital on May 3, 2014, and four days later I moved to Tennessee to start my new life as a singer in The Great American Country Show at Dollywood

Currently I am performing at Dollywood as the sole musician in the Christmas show “O Holy Night.” I know that when I get up on stage and sing, pop a wheelie, and entertain an audience that I am shattering the image most people have of a “disabled” person.

Nathan Watt and family

Nathan Watt and his family

Probably the best part of my job is when I am able to entertain veterans in our audiences. I have always had a deep respect for our men in women in uniform — many of my family members have served in the armed forces. My mother served six years and then left the Air Force to take care of me. My 90-year-old grandfather fought in the Battle of the Bulge and still has shrapnel in his leg. Another grandfather served on the 38th Parallel. Several cousins and uncles have served in the military, and my Uncle Mike still serves in the army as a recruiter.

It really didn’t dawn on me until high school that I would never be allowed to serve in the military. Instead, I take any opportunity I can to volunteer and sing for our troops.

For my grandfather’s 90th birthday, my mom and I wrote a song to commemorate what he has done for our country and family. You can listen to “I’ll Honor You” on YouTube now, and while you listen, just imagine how great it was to see my grandfather’s smiling face after we gave him this gift: he loved it!

I will never be able to repay what our armed forces do and have done for us, but I always enjoy singing our national anthem or performing for our veterans and military personnel. Performing for them is an honor because of the way they serve our country.


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