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Thomas Rhett’s PLATINUM-certified third album LIFE CHANGES (The Valory Music Co.) is the biggest, boldest-sounding record of his career, filled with a diverse batch of songs as he stretches his sound to new limits. Emphasizing his “detailed style of songwriting” (Rolling Stone), LIFE CHANGES was an instant hit upon its release, debuting at No. One on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart, marking the first Country release to take the top spot last year. It also drew a 2018 GRAMMY nomination for Best Country Albumand has been streamed more than one billion times, delivering a slew of RIAA-certified PLATINUM and GOLD chart-toppers, bringing Thomas Rhett’s No. One tally to 11. His current single “Sixteen” is rapidly rising at Country radio. Thomas Rhett was named iHeartRadio’s Country Artist of the Year for the second year in a row, following a CMA Triple Play award for penning three No. One songs within a 12-month period (“Die A Happy Man,” “Star of the Show” and Michael Ray’s “Think A Little Less”), adding to his collection of trophies from the Country Music Association, Academy of Country Music, Billboard Music Awards, CMT Music Awards and more. Thomas Rhett is set to bring his critically-acclaimed LIFE CHANGES TOUR to Canada in April of 2019, and his headlining VERY HOT SUMMER TOUR will kick off May 17.
Dustin Lynch occupies a unique place in today’s country music. Thanks to his classic sensibilities, he’s been heralded as the heir to George Strait’s throne. Yet with one listen to his newest hit, “Where It’s At,” it’s obvious the young Tennessean knows how to combine his traditional influences with an edgy intensity that places him at the vanguard of today’s contemporary country scene.
It’s that ability to fuse his country roots with a progressive musical vision that makes Lynch one of today’s most successful young artists. His self-titled Broken Bow Records debut hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart and the lead single, “Cowboys and Angels,” exceeded platinum sales status while earning Lynch a legion of devoted fans. His follow up single, the sexy up tempo “She Cranks My Tractor,” became a No. 1 video on GAC’s Top 20 Country Countdown and the accolades continued to pour in, among them Rolling Stone heralding Lynch as “The New Hat in Town” in the magazine’s 2013 Best of Rock issue. Lynch’s career momentum continued as he opened for Keith Urban on his recent Light the Fuse Tour and earned critical praise from American Songwriter, Billboard, Country Weekly, Elle, The Los Angeles Times, People and USA Today, to name a few.
At the heart of it all stands a young man with an abundance of raw talent and an unwavering work ethic that seized his moment and made the most of it. “It’s crazy what music can do,” Lynch says with a smile. “I’ll do a show and have people come up to me in tears because they are getting to share a story about how my songs have affected their life. That’s so inspiring. I know now that a song can really affect someone’s life and that’s what makes me want to keep doing the best I can do.”
After the tremendous success of his debut album, one might expect Lynch to be nervous about recording his sophomore project. Instead he approached the task with confidence and a renewed sense of purpose. “For me, it’s all about the songs,” he relates. “I’m so confident in these songs, I can’t wait for this album to come out. As a songwriter I want to see what people gravitate towards.”
With it’s upbeat lyric and insinuating groove, people are already gravitating toward the lead single “Where It’s At.” “It just came to life when we were recording it,” Lynch says. “Musically it’s a new groove that we haven’t done before and it’s a sweet song. It says there’s no better place on the planet than with somebody you love. It’s a great message. That’s what I like to do with my music – hopefully impact people in a positive way.”
In recording the new album, Lynch again teamed with Brett Beavers and Luke Wooten, who produced his debut, and also worked with Mickey Jack Cones (Jason Aldean/ Joe Nichols). “Mickey has brought a whole new arsenal of tools to the game and took me to a new place vocally that I haven’t been,” Lynch says. “Brett, Luke and Mickey all have their strengths and I get to have the best of both worlds, so it’s awesome. We’ve got a great partnership.”
As a result, Lynch has crafted a musically inventive and lyrically substantive album filled with memorable songs – and he’s never sounded more seasoned and confident. “Hell of a Night” percolates with an edgy energy while “Sing it to Me” is a song Lynch describes as sexual chocolate. “It’s a song that’s so sexy,” he grins. “It’s about a person that’s poison but you just can’t get enough.”
Another highlight is the beautiful ballad “Your Daddy’s Boots” that chronicles the feelings of a groom as he watches his bride dance with her father, hoping he can fill his boots. “I wrote it with Tim Nichols and Josh Leo, who I wrote ‘Cowboys and Angels’ with. There is some sort of magical thing that happens with those guys,” Lynch says.
“Middle of Nowhere” explores a complicated relationship that Lynch says more closely mirrors his own life. “It’s about being stuck in the friend zone and wondering if you should take a friendship into no man’s land where there’s no return,” he explains with a smile. “Once you kiss a friend, you’re not a friend anymore. All of a sudden you are something bigger and hopefully better, but sometimes it ends up crashing and burning pretty hard. So there’s that fear factor.
Though he didn’t write “What You Wanna Hear,” Lynch says he can relate to the tune penned by Rhett Akins, Ben Hayslip and Ashley Gorley. “I’m definitely a down home guy. If I have a day off, I’m driving the country roads just chillin’ out or going home to turkey hunt and going fishing on the river.”
Growing up in Tullahoma, Tennessee, Lynch lived the kind of rural life celebrated by country music and his album reflects those roots. “ ‘After Party’ is me,” he says. “It’s me and my crew back home. We lived for the weekends and Friday night football games. We lived for going out to Lazy Branch Road. We’d go cruising there and then we’d get to the boat ramp where we’d build a fire and drink beer that we snuck away from somebody’s house or bought with a fake ID. We’d play music and try to meet some new girls from the next county over.”
His parents urged him to attend college and get his degree (he graduated Pre-Med from David Lipscomb University) but music was always his dream. He grew up listening to his heroes— George Strait, Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks. “They are such icons and seem so untouchable, but I thought, ‘Man that would be awesome to be like them.’ You just start taking steps,” Lynch says. “I took a step and got in a band in high school. I took a step and came to Nashville and talked my way into the The Bluebird Café. I took another step and recorded a little five-song album in a basement in one day. These are little milestones and you don’t even realize they are huge building blocks to where we are today. It’s always something I dreamed of doing. I’m just glad I was dumb enough to give it a shot.”
Dustin Lynch is living the dream he worked so hard to achieve and he’s happy to walk the line between country music’s past and it’s future, a link between it’s most honored traditions and it’s edgier new direction. “I want to do everything I can possibly do to be the best I can be,” Lynch says. “I never give myself a day off. If you have a list of things that I’ve accomplished, I probably couldn’t tell you a tenth of them because it’s always about what’s happening next. Every time we take that stage is a nice little pat on the back, a nice little present. I love what I’m doing right now. Musically I’ve been blessed to be able to walk a line that is a bit more traditional, but I can sprinkle some newer influences on top of that. I wear a cowboy hat. It’s who I am and weirdly enough, in country music cowboy hats are few and far between right now. I’m glad it’s that way. The door is open for a young guy like me to come in and carry that torch. I’m happy to do so.”
Sincere, endearing, energetic, and always smiling: All words that have been used to describe emerging country music star, Russell Dickerson, by his fans and peers alike. His infectious personality radiates in everything he does, whether he’s writing a song, singing in the studio, or meeting fans. He’s constantly making people laugh, and makes new friends everywhere he goes. He asserts, “I just love life. Every day is a great day!”
And lately there’s been plenty to smile about. The Nashville native and Belmont University alumnus had quite the surprising summer with the incredible grassroots reaction to his current single, “Yours.” The power ballad was selected for Sirius XM’s The Highway Find program, which showcases new, and often times unsigned, artists to country music fans across the country. And with his song competing with artists such as Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan on the satellite radio station’s weekly Hot 45 countdown, and successfully reaching #15, listeners have spent the entire summer discovering Dickerson.
In just a few short weeks, Dickerson’s fans have solidified him unanimously as the next big thing. Hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube, massive sales numbers, and skyrocketing social media numbers from the fans have come pouring in. He happily keeps up with the messages daily across all his social outlets and reciprocates their dedication by responding to his fans personally.
“Since day one, all I’ve ever known is music. I love touring, I love playing the shows…I love connecting with every single person.” The multi-instrumentalist, and successful songwriter, is busy recording his next project, and is characteristically optimistic that his fans will embrace the album just as much as they have him. “At the end of the day, it’s all about the fans. I want them to leave my shows feeling changed. I live to make them smile.”
Rhett found his way to a professional music career when Decca Records (which had been reactivated then) heard one of his demos. He dropped his first album, A Thousand Memories, in 1995. The record was critically acclaimed and produced four chart singles including his first No. 1 hit, “That Ain’t My Truck,” which he also co-wrote. The song has since become Rhett’s signature song but his success story was just getting started. The following year he released Somebody New which produced another No. 1 hit, “Don’t Get Me Started.”
Overall Rhett has had an extremely impressive career. He’s not just been a successful solo artist, he’s also written chart toppers for some big names. Rhett has had 29 No. 1 singles (and counting), which is remarkable! Some of them include, Luke Bryan’s “I Don’t Want This Night to End and Huntin’ Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day,” Chris Young’s “I Can Take it From There,” Justin Moore’s “Point at You,”, Dustin Lynch’s “Mindreader” and Locash’s “I Know Somebody”. Rhett’s also responsible for Blake Shelton’s “All About Tonight,” “Boys ‘Round Here” and “Honey Bee,” the latter of which spent a total of four weeks at No. 1. His Jason Aldean cuts include “When She Says Baby,” “Just Gettin’ Started” and “Tonight Looks Good on You.” He had another three week No. 1 with Thomas Rhett’s “It Goes Like This.” He also wrote TR’s “Get Me Some of That” and “Star Of The Show” which was co-written with, Thomas Rhett and their first No. 1 together. In March of 2017, John Pardi’s “Dirt On My Boots” went No.1 and in September 2017, Dustin Lynch’s “Small Town Boy” spent 4 weeks at #1 on Billboard which became his 28th number one. Rhett celebrated his 29th number one, “Life Changes” with Thomas Rhett and fellow co-writers in October, 2018.
This impressive list hasn’t gone unnoticed in the music industry. Rhett has been the recipient of renowned awards and titles. In 2010, Rhett was named the No. 4 Billboard Country Songwriter. The following year, BMI named him Songwriter of the Year. He won it again in 2014. His song “Honey Bee” became the highest selling digital debut by a country male solo artist. His biggest accomplishment, though, may be winning the CMA Triple Play award a total of seven times! The award is presented to a songwriter who penned three No. 1 singles in 12 months and he won it in October 2010, January 2012, February 2014, February 2015, February 2016, February 2017, and again in February 2018! In April 2018 Rhett was named Songwriter of the Year by the Academy of Country Music.
Rhett Akins has already achieved so much as both an artist and a songwriter, but he’s not done yet.