Next month, Randy Houser is playing a benefit concert for a man who gave him the push he needed to get to Nashville to become a star. Thomas Carson was the band director at East Central Community College in Decatur, Miss. before being diagnosed with esophageal cancer earlier this year. More than anyone, Houser tells Country Weekly, it was Carson who encouraged him to get to school.

“I was playing clubs at the time and the thought of going to school was foreign to me,” Randy tells “I was judging a talent competition one night and Mr. Carson came up to me and asked me if I wanted to go to college."

"Come to find out that Mr. Carson was and still is one of those people that take kids like me, recognizes their talents and often ends up giving them scholarships to go play music at East Central. I would have never had the money to go to school without his help.”

Houser says he wouldn't have thought about giving Nashville a try if it hadn't been for Carson, so he's more than happy to give back, and will do so with a benefit concert on Nov. 12 at the Neshoba County Coliseum in Philadelphia, Miss.

“I always knew that he believed in me and my music,” says Randy. “I’ll never forget the moment he looked me in the eye and said, ‘If you can get out of this town, you need to go’. I moved to Nashville soon after. He helped me. Now it’s time to help him.”