Gotta Start Somewhere: Country Artists' Beginnings

Eric Church

Church from a young age was into being the tough music bad boy. He was writing his own music by the age of thirteen. In high school he played local shows, and in college he started a band with his roommates "Mountain Boys." Before he was a country singer, Church had a career as a phone operator for a TV shopping channel. He was fired after attempting to help customers out of their drunken purchases. Church recorded music with various producers before Capitol Records signed him in 2005.

Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood's claim to fame as the winner--and arguably the most successful to have come from the show--of American Idol in 2005 is not new news to anyone. However, Underwood was performing and writing music long before that audition. She actually landed a contract with Capitol Records in 1996, but it was unfortunately terminated when management changed. Luckily she got her second shot with the reality competition nearly a decade later.

Thomas Rhett

In middle school Rhett picked up a pair of drumsticks and has been slamming and jamming away ever since. He performed on stage with his father, Rhett Atkins. From a young age Thomas knew that he was going to be a musician. He started a band in high school "The Heeled Flip Flops" and in college he played live shows for his fraternity Tau Phi. In 2010 he co-wrote a hit song on Jason Aldean's album My Kinda Party titled "I Ain't Ready to Quit", and boy was he not. He was signed to Big Machine Records in 2011 and released his debut single "Something to Do with My Hands" in 202. 

Miranda Lambert

Miranda Lambert is another country star that was born from reality TV fame. In 2003 the golden voiced, fierce woman was a finalist on Nashville Star. She finished third but can be considered the most successful singer in the show's' history--having several albums and songs go platinum and consistently top the billboard charts. When she was sixteen she guest starred on the Johnnie High Country Music Revue, a talent show not unfamiliar with country stars. She won a recording session in Nashville. She returned him so her father could teach her how to play guitar, and soon enough she was writing her own music. Lambert was still a high school student when she launched her professional career. 

Kenny Chesney

Chesney has recorded sixteen albums, fourteen of which have been certified gold or higher. He's no stranger to the top charts or sold out concerts. His first guitar was named "The Terminor" and he used it to write his own songs. In college he was apart of the ETSU bluegrass program. He self-recorded and released his first demo in 1989. He sold 1,000 copies of the demo at gigs he performed in clubs and bars around Johnson city. He used the money to buy a new guitar and the rest took care of itself.

Tim McGraw

With thirteen studio albums under his belt, you'd be surprised to learn that it wasn't until college that McGraw discovered his musical talent. Most of his childhood and teen years were dedicated to competitive sports and a very complicated home life. His father was a star baseball player, Frank Edwin McGraw, whom didn't claim Tim as his son until Tim was eighteen. In college McGraw learned how to play guitar and sat in for local bands that needed one. In 1989, McGraw dropped out of college to pursue his dreams in a music career after the death of his hero Keith Whitely. 

Kellie Pickler was a fast food car hop at Sonic, Steve Earle was a car wash attendant, Faith Hill was a merch girl for Reba McEntire, Phillip Sweet was a mall janitor, Dierks Bentley cleaned toilets and Martina McBride was a merch gal for Garth Brooks. They all started somewhere and then got shot to the stars. Perhaps you could too!



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