WSCC alumnus Rayce Cleghorn joins cast at Country Tonite Theatre in Pigeon Forge

Dec 11, 2023Dalton Bright
Rayce Cleghorn at Country Tonite

Wallace State Community College alumnus Rayce Cleghorn performs at Country Tonite Theatre in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. (Photo courtesy of Country Tonite)

Hanceville, AL — Just in time for Christmas, Wallace State’s 2023 Student of the Year Rayce Cleghorn hits the professional stage at Country Tonight Theatre in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Since October, he has been preparing for his role in the theater’s annual Christmas Show.

“Country Tonite Theater is a variety show. We do country music from the old to the new. We have an amazing live band. We have some incredibly talented vocalists. We have some great youth performers and the best professional dancers in Pigeon Forge, Tenn,” said Rayce. “Our schedule is definitely busy. We tend to have about 10 shows a week, however they are very good at encouraging us to take the time off we need. We have a great talent manager and dance captain who always makes sure we aren't overwhelming our bodies.”

Rayce CleghornRayce calls himself a “what you see is what you get” kind of person. He enjoys spending time with his family, friends and girlfriend whenever he gets the chance. He holds his faith near to him and said he tries to embody his beliefs and grow in them daily. For years, he has been a lover of baseball, video games, hitting the gym and yelling “Roll Tide” in support of his favorite football team, but his oldest passion is music and dance.

“I started performing in musical productions in church while my mom was the children's pastor, so my first time on stage, I was very young,” said Rayce. “It has always seemed like a natural part of my life. I've been performing ever since, and I've truly fallen in love with it.”

Beginning Nov. 1 and continuing until Dec. 31, the Country Tonite Theatre hosts at least one performance – sometimes two – of its Christmas show every day. The show features a blend of non-holiday country classics as well as beloved Christmas tunes.  

“The first act of our Christmas show is a combination of the regular season’s show. That way, the audience doesn't miss out on the classic and modern country music and our tribute to America,” said Rayce. “After that, we start our Christmas part of the show in the second act. We start off with an old-fashioned country Christmas, also playing some hits like “Jingle Bells” and “Joy to the World.

Once this current season wraps up, Rayce plans to return to Country Tonite Theatre for another year of performance, except this time around, his sister McCoy (another Wallace State alum) will be joining the ensemble. He said he is excited to be returning to Pigeon Forge, and especially to be performing alongside a member of his family again.

Until 2023, for more than 10 years, at least one member of the Cleghorn family was present on-stage during performances at Wallace State Community College. Rayce is the youngest of four siblings who have attended and performed at the college, starting with his oldest sister, Tahauny, and continuing with older brother Duke and older sister McCoy. Even his parents, Derek and Carol Cleghorn, are Wallace State alumni.

Musical performance came early to the entire family, and the on-stage chemistry between the siblings is apparent. As the siblings grew up, their vocal registers fell into place naturally, as Tahauny sings soprano, Duke sings tenor, McCoy sings alto and Rayce sings bass. Nowadays, the siblings often perform at area gospel music events as The Cleghorn Family. To Rayce, family is vital, and he said each member of his family has played an immeasurable role in his life.   

“My dad showed me how to be a man, my mom showed me how to always have compassion regardless of the situation, my oldest sister showed me that hard work and practice are the keys to success, my brother showed me there is always room to get better and more to strive for and my other sister showed me that family is always the most important. My family has always supported me and been my rock,” said Rayce. “I believe that God has brought me this far and I look forward to seeing where he takes me from here.”

Rayce Cleghorn

Rayce Cleghorn appears as Child Shrek in one of his early performances at Wallace State Community College.

Rayce first became part of Wallace State’s Fine and Performing Arts program when he was 10 years old. His debut performance was in 2012 in the ensemble of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” with his older sisters Tahauny and McCoy, when Tahauny was a student at Wallace State Community College. His next performance was as Child Shrek in the college’s production of “Shrek: The Musical” with all his siblings. He said that while the decision is a tough one, his most memorable performance during his time at Wallace State was in “Mary Poppins.” 

“If I had to pick just one show at WSCC that was the most memorable, it would have to be ‘Mary Poppins.’ I did that show when I was 15 and played the character Bert, opposite Samantha Drake as Mary Poppins. I got to sing and dance to all the songs that I already knew and loved. My favorite part was that I got to fly!”

Rayce Cleghorn

Rayce Cleghorn in the role of Bert in the Wallace State Community College production of “Mary Poppins.”

Rayce enrolled at Wallace State in 2021 and he attributes much of his stage confidence and show knowledge to his experience at the college. He said that the time he spent in classes and performing in ensembles shaped him into the performer and person he is today. He named two instructors in Wallace State’s Fine and Performing Arts Department that both played a major role in his life: Tiffany Richter, director of the Wallace State Singers and Concert Choir, and Ricky Burks, Fine and Performing Arts Department Chair.

“The Wallace State Singers was always my favorite. All my siblings had been in the Singers, and I learned most of what I know as a performer from my time in that group and the teaching of Tiffany Richter,” said Rayce. “Ricky Burks has also been a big influence in my life both as a performer and as a man.”

During his time as a student at Wallace State, Rayce also performed in a variety of other ensembles, including the Dream Weavers Youth Theatre and the River City Performing Arts troupe, both based out of Decatur. In 2021, Rayce placed first in solo expressive interpretive movement at the Church of God International Youth and Discipleship’s Teen Talent competition.

“In my first year as a Wallace Student, I got to spend time with my sister and got to make some of my best friends. Going to Disney World and Universal Studios and performing with my best friends was the highlight of my first year,” said Rayce. “The next year, I also met some of my very closest friends and my girlfriend, and we all got to end the year together taking our gospel show on a European tour.”

Rayce’s last Wallace State performance was at “Spring Under the Stars” on April 27, 2023. A week prior to his final performance, Rayce was named Wallace State’s Student of the Year at the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce’s State of Education luncheon.

“Rayce Cleghorn is just beginning to make his mark! I knew I couldn't keep him around for too long, and he would leave us for bigger and better things. This is just the first stop in what I'm sure will be a long performance career,” said Richter. “He's a triple-threat-singer, dancer and actor! He really is just an all-around incredible performer, and I can't wait to see where he goes from here!"

Registration for the Spring 2024 semester is currently underway, with classes beginning Jan 8 for regular and Mini Term I and March 6 for Mini Term II. Registration for Flex Start I courses will be held Jan. 13-19, with classes starting Jan. 15 and registration for Flex Start II courses will be held Jan. 20-26, with classes starting Jan. 22. Visit to apply and register for classes.

For more information, visit, call the main campus at 256.352.8000 or come by Lion Central in the lobby of the James C. Bailey Center Monday-Wednesday 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or Friday 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visit for more information about Wallace State’s Fine and Performing Arts programs. 

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