GREENE COUNTY, Miss. (WKRG) – A Greene County native will have a shot to make his dreams come true in New York City this week.

Diamond Walley will perform in Amateur Night at the Apollo on Wednesday. It’s a competition between performers to win over the audience and make it to future rounds of competition later this year. Since 1934, it has helped launch the careers of musicians like Ella Fitzgerald, The Jackson 5, H.E.R., and Machine Gun Kelly.

“It just means opportunity. To better myself and better my family and our situations and just being the best that I could be,” Walley said.

Walley, who goes by Diamond Khortez on stage, got his start at five years old when his choir director at Mount Zion United Methodist Church asked him to help lead the ensemble in a song.

“It was the first time I ever led a song in church or anywhere. And I just knew then I wanted to be a singer. My mom and my family sing so it’s kind of like a family thing- singing music,” he said.

He graduated in 2015 from Mississippi School for the Arts in Brookhaven and went on to earn a music degree from Alcorn State University. Between that time, he also made it to the Hollywood round as a contestant on American Idol in 2019.

Walley now lives in and performs locally in Atlanta. His first extended play record, “7,” was released last year. 

“This is an opportunity that I’d never thought would come around because Amateur Night at The Apollo is where a whole bunch of superstars have been. It’s a dream, it really is, and I’m so grateful for all the people that are supporting me back home,” he said.

To perform at The Apollo, Walley submitted an audition tape last October and was selected to perform live. He’ll wear a shirt on-stage signed by friends and family in Greene County before he performs “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston.

The winner of the grand finale in November receives $20,000.