Self-taught musician. Inspired by the outlaws of country music, including Billy Joe Shaver and Johnny Paycheck. “When I was ten, I asked for a guitar. My parents refused to buy me one because they thought I’d break it. Five years later, they bought me my first guitar. I had one intention: to learn “Walk the Line” (Johnny Cash), and I taught myself how to play it. My mom encouraged me to learn and sing the lyrics. I really didn’t have any interest in “singing” and brushed it off. One day, I came home from school and my guitar was missing. My mom confiscated it; she told me I wasn’t getting it back until I learned to sing! I have a stubborn streak and held out a couple of months; then I decided to give in and learn the words to “Walk the Line.” I realized I enjoyed singing more than I had expected.”
How did you choose this Cash song to learn first? What is it that you most admire about Cash (his music and music career)?
“Walk the Line” is one of my all-time favorite songs; admittedly, I listened to that song every single day when I was growing up. I admire Johnny Cash because he didn’t do what he was told, he didn’t follow the norm. He wasn’t afraid to tell people “No.” He did things his way…with his own rules.
Millington, Michigan native. “We have one traffic light in town and there isn’t much that would bring someone to Millington as an “attraction.” But…it’s the place I call home; the place where I grew up and a place that has shaped me.” You were gigging at local venues on the weekends throughout your senior year of high school before the pandemic shut everything down when you graduated in 2020. You transitioned to Facebook Lives to build your fan base and solidified your desire to pursue music professionally. What is something positive that came out of connecting with fans via social media?
I have never been much of a tech guy– I rather prefer hunting and fishing. But turning to social media was (and still is) pivotal. It’s a huge tool to help spread the word about my music. Fans shared my videos, which ultimately helped me to build my fan base. Several fans messaged me asking how they could send me a “tip,” and those requests motivated me to create Venmo and PayPal accounts. I’m an old soul and like to do things the old-school way, but I quickly realized the power of social media!
“My cowboy hat and boots aren’t just for show, they’re lived in.” Down-to-earth style. Don’t want to be a fad. Will grind to get your name out there, but also take your time to enjoy the ride … ‘we’re only here for a short while.’ “In my humble opinion, country music today has lost its way. I want to keep traditional country music alive with ‘three chords and the truth’ and an old-school vibe.” Five years into your music career at age 21. Solo acoustic artist. Opened for Uncle Kracker, Travis Tritt, Trace Adkins, Chris Cagle, Elvie Shane, Ashley McBryde, Tyler Farr, and Jo Dee Messina. Can you share a favorite memory from opening for these artists?
I’ve truly been blessed to have shared the stage with some BIG names in country music and continue to do so. One of my favorite memories was meeting Trace Adkins. Coincidentally, he was the first headliner I had the pleasure of opening for. Trace came up to me and my parents and introduced himself (we knew who he was, of course). He shook our hands and took the time to have a conversation with us. Trace isn’t just a great performer; he is a great and humble person!
You are inspired by your idol Ray Scott and, among his other tunes, the song “My Kind of Music,” which you listened to with your brother while hunting, fishing, trapping, and baling hay on your farm.
Unexpectedly and tragically, you lost your older brother, your only sibling and best friend, in early 2021. “My world turned upside down completely; I lost all interest in music. A few months after losing my brother, I realized he’d kick my ass if I gave up music (he was my biggest fan). He was the one who hauled, set up, and tore down my gear. He sat in the front row at my shows. I decided I HAD to start playing again, for him. When I came back and played my first show it was standing-room-only, and I received an overwhelming amount of support!” Besides your immediate family, you have been supported by your Aunt Mandy, local banker Vickie Schmitzer, local promoter Ken Shelton, and co-writer-producer Bernie Nelson. What is the best advice you have received to learn more about the creative process and the business side of the music industry?
Dan Richards, a local country radio DJ, is the first who comes to mind! Dan essentially “discovered me.” He told me the first time he heard me sing (I was shy of 18) to stay true to myself and “keep on keeping on.” I also believe we never stop learning, so I always keep my eyes and ears open to try and absorb as much of the music business as I possibly can, when I can.
New single, the ballad, “My Kind of Lonely.” Written by Bernie Nelson and Frank Myers, the lyrics showcase an empathetic connection between two people who have loved and lost and find themselves at the same place and the same time. “I knew the song was a perfect fit for me the first time I heard the demo. It has a lonesome emotional storyline; the hook, ‘whoever let her go is my new best friend,’ is an attention-getter and a fan favorite.” How do you feel “My Kind of Lonely” showcases your talents (in vocal delivery and signature sound)?
Whether it’s a song I write, or a song I am pitched, the music I record and release will always have a genuine country sound. “My Kind of Lonely” fits me to a “T.” It’s my style and fits my vocal range. It tells a great story and has a killer hook, “whoever let her go is my new best friend.”
Playing a show with Lance Carpenter at his round at the Listening Room Café to debut “Paradise” from your 2024 album, Don’t Mess with My Country. What can fans look forward to hearing on your upcoming release and why is the album title “fitting” to you as a recording artist and the tracks on the project?
My new album title, Don’t Mess with My Country, along with being patriotic, fits my “old soul.” I think the tracks showcase my vocal range, and they all have a traditional, genuine country feel that is signature to my style. The title has a dual meaning: 1) don’t mess with my country (as in the USA), and 2) don’t mess with my country (as in my country music). Every song on the new album has a true, powerful meaning behind it.