On February 3 and 4, country artist Mitchell Tenpenny will headline the Ryman Auditorium for two nights.
The 33-year-old Nashville native is the grandson of former Sony/ATV Music Publishing CEO, Nashville radio industry legend and Alabama Hall of Famer Donna Hilley. He is also the co-founder and lead artist of Sony-distributed Riser House, a full-service label, artist management and music publishing company.
Until his collaboration with Chris Young “At the End of a Bar”, released in September 2021, reached the top of Billboard’s Country Airplay charts five months ago, the artist with an enviable pedigree lacked an achievement. notable:
A #1 hit.
“You go to enough No. 1 parties and see your friends get these plaques, you want to be as cool as they are,” Tenpenny told The Tennessean while pausing on a Nashville soundstage and getting ready to go. the next set of 27 tour dates. from January to March.
“When it was time for me to be this cool, I had to pinch myself. It’s like sitting in a boat and fishing all day. Then, finally, you’re ready to go, then you feel a bite on the line. It’s cool once you roll it up, but you want another one. There’s never peace of mind.
COVID-19 has placed doubt in Tenpenny’s mind about her ability to succeed in the arbitrary decade-long timeline that mainstream country artists often impose on themselves to climb the creative ladder in Music City.
He recalls returning from London in March 2020 and expecting a two-week delay to expand the reach of his career domestically and globally. But, over what became two years, he began to question his career aspirations. From the dawn of unprecedented success to staring at the walls of his home, he had no choice but to evolve as both an artist and a man.
For Tenpenny, two shows at the Ryman are as much a showcase of her art at country music’s “Mother Church” as they are a hometown show reunion for Lipscomb Academy’s class of 2008 graduates, people which saw him attempt success as a hopeful college football player. at Middle Tennessee State University, as well as those whose garage guitar jams boosted his country stardom.
“I’m gonna riff on new songs. It’s gonna be so much fun.”
Tenpenny is really friendly and charming. He’s the kind of person who could quickly turn the heart of even the most hardened skeptic who thinks the era of good humor surrounding much of Nashville’s country pop and radio music scene is more driven by a half-hearted and less PR copy by people. working tirelessly while maintaining a cheerful attitude.
This stage now features local Metro Nashville-area artists like Tenpenny — as well as ERNEST, Jelly Roll and Young — achieving chart-topping moments as pop-adored country singer-songwriters. Along with the perpetual flow of domestic and global artists coming to Music City, the city’s native creatives are key.
Tenpenny remembers signing as a duo with ERNEST early in their career. He counts veteran Jelly Roll as a mentor whose independent rise paved the way for his success.
“As Nashville artists, we’re united as a team for this moment,” Tenpenny said. “Understanding the balance between holding on to our roots while embracing change is going to create a special moment that will last for a while.”
Given his roots in the genre, Tenpenny’s desire to master the art of songwriting has been key to following his career progression. In addition to his No. 1 hit with Young, he has entered the country radio Top 10 twice in the past five years, with “Drunk Me” in 2018 and “Truth About You” in 2021.
Over the past decade, the genre has insisted on bringing what Tenpenny calls “the teenage and early 20s angst” of its male stars’ lives to the fore. Finally, however, a new movement is developing. The performers become mature enough to step back and allow the dive bar scenes that country music culture creates to speak louder than their own lives, showing tremendous stamina for fans.
To wit, Cole Swindell’s story of a love night at a karaoke bar in “She Had Me at Heads Carolina” spent six consecutive months in the Top 5 of Billboard’s Country Airplay charts.
“A lot of us as singer-songwriters are different now than when we were writing so many of our songs,” Tenpenny says.
In his case, he has been married for three months to fellow country singer Meghan Patrick. Now, instead of focusing so much on himself, he’s more focused on what he calls “concepts and ideas based on emotional stories I’ve seen and heard.”
A songwriting process now reminiscent of his teenage years when he had just gotten a driver’s license and spent time on the road, imagining himself as the protagonist or antagonist of late country and pop songs. 90s and early 2000s as cinematic inspiration for his current material.
Like Swindell’s Country Music Association award-nominated acclaim, Tenpenny 2021’s “Truth About You” is enjoying viral success on social media and streaming due to how easily it relates to fans of the genre.
The song’s heartbreaking and moving chorus features a deceived mate declaring that if a ceasefire of lies from their misguided partner is not achieved, they will also take the low road and reveal hurtful truths about their relationship unfortunately ended. .
“People knew, or thought, they had been through that. Or heck, the song was so good that people wished it was what they had been through,” Tenpenny jokes. “Seeing people’s faces when they think of someone and singing those lyrics? It was fun but crazy.
“I love my friends and I love this town,” Tenpenny says. “But I’ve outgrown the competition with them and what Nashville is becoming. Now it’s just me and my feelings and my guitar. I’m a storyteller who challenges me more. It’s easy to d ‘appreciate what I’ve done. But doing more involves being uncomfortable, so that’s what I’m doing.”
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