This week Russell Dickerson makes his countdown co-hosting debut. He shares some of his story, and the country stars who’ve helped him along the way, including Thomas Rhett, Kelsea Ballerini, and Florida Georgia Line.
Russell credits two musical influences from his youth: Keith Urban and Garth Brooks. “One of the first memories of Garth was as a toddler. I remember this home video of me in a diaper and cowboy boots singing ‘Friends In Low Places.’ That’s one of my favorite memories. As I started writing and performing is when I dove deep into Garth Brooks, the DVD sets, to see the entertainer he is. He does what I aspire to so much.”
Russell has lived in Nashville since he was ten. His father is the pastor at a local church. His father became a mentor for Josh Turner when he was still in college: “Josh was in college at Belmont, and he started singing at my dad’s choir. By the time I got to college, I saw a CMT special about Josh. I remember sitting there thinking that’s what I want to do.”
A few years ago, he ran into the band LANCO while playing basketball: “There’s a community center with basketball courts. All of a sudden this group of five guys showed up every week. We played ball for a few hours, and started talking about music. Then I learned they were a band. It’s been really cool to see their journey and my journey be right there with each other.”
Russell was inspired by Josh to attended Belmont, and it was there that he met Brian and Tyler of Florida Georgia Line. “I started writing songs before I left college, and that’s how I got to be friends with Brian & Tyler. That was what started my career. I remember Chase Rice lived in the basement there. He had just moved from North Carolina. One day, they wrote ‘Cruise.’ I went like, ‘Dang! Good for you!'”
Then, through Tyler, Russell met Thomas Rhett: “I think we met at Tyler’s house. But without his support, bringing me out on tour, he brought me out on tour before I had a single out. I just signed my record deal. I’ll send him a verbal hug now for how much he’s meant in my life.”
What are your plans for 2019? “Nothing I can talk about yet, but it’s a big tour, very excited about, we’ve mentioned the name earlier in the interview. It’s going to be a very fun year.”
Russell also has great stories this week about Darius Rucker, Brett Young, Carly Pearce, and Lady Antebellum.