How long did you live in Mississippi? Until I graduated from high school. Then when I graduated, I moved to Boston where I attended Berklee Scool of Music. I started piano lessons in kindergarten. Then around ten years old my family made a trip to Opryland in Nashville, and I saw Mike Snider play banjo, so I learned how to play banjo. Everything snowballed from there. A couple years later, I got to play on the Opry stage at age 12. It was one of the greatest moments in my life. It’s close to my heart, and that video on YouTube is very funny.
Have you been back to the Opry since? I have, mostly playing with other artists, but last fall, I got to go for my first time as an official guest. Backstage, there’s an artist entrance, and I got a parking spot in the artist’s lot, near Bill Anderson. I sang “Could It Be,” my first single, that night. It’s a story about some friends that have known each other for a while, there’s been some chemistry, but they never explored it, then they crossed the line and realized there could be more to it than friends.
Who are your Opry favorites? Marty Stuart and Vince Gill are my two heroes. I am such a fan of Marty Stuart I have a tattoo on my arm that says “Follow your heart.” It’s in his handwriting. One year, my parents got a book of his, got him to autograph it, and he wrote “Follow your heart” in the book. I saw Marty at a dressing room, and went to him, told him I’m a fan of his, showed him my tattoo, and he goes, “Well son, you didn’t have to get it written on your arm!” Marty’s also from Mississippi.
What was it like auditioning for your record deal? Part of the journey of being an artist is playing for radio. It’s a nerve wracking experience. But playing for John Esposito, he’s a huge kid. He made it a blast, he was jumping up and down, grabbed a guitar and play with me, it was fun.
Why is Could It Be the first single? For my style, and the story I want to tell, Could It Be is the perfect introduction, it’s the story of a begining, a newly minted love. Most of the songs, I play the solos, but there are also some fantastic musicians on it. Jedd Hughes is all over this record, Johnny Duke, who also plays with Little Big Town, is on my record.
You’ve been an opening act for a couple big tours: Yes My first two gigs were Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert. I didn’t have a record label when I opened for Taylor, I got the best leg of the tour. I got to watch her show every night. It’s quite a show! Taylor didn’t spare any expense when it came to her fans. You can learn from that.
You have some challenges at your website: Yes, I’ve done 11 cover challenges. I get Twitter followers to suggest songs for me to cover. I have 24 hours to do my own cover version, and I video them all. I did lots of interesting songs, like Gangnam Style. I sing in Korean too. I don’t know what he’s singing about. Somebody told me Gangnam is a neighborhood in Korea.
Talk about your shoes: I was shopping, and found orange Chuck Taylors. They fit perfectly. I never owned a pair, they’re bright orange, and now I wear em all the time. That’s my trademark!