Rising Star

Country music star Rhett
to entertain Sprint Cup crowd

Georgia native has seen
his career take off since 2010

(June 2014) – Country singer-songwriter Thomas Rhett never really set out to be a country music star. Convinced that his life would take a different path, he kept coming back to what he loved the best.
Rhett, 23, stumbled into a songwriting deal and nine months later he co-wrote the song “I Ain’t Ready to Quit” on country superstar Jason Aldean’s “My Kinda Party” album. It became the best-selling country album of 2011.
After auditioning for at least seven record companies, every one of them wanted to sign Rhett. It seemed as if he had become a star overnight, taking his place among the new country stars of the 21st century.
But Rhett, a Georgia native, is still a bit confused as to his sudden popularity. “I don’t have a clue where it’s going to go or where it’ll end up, but the journey is cool enough for me,” he said on his website. “I’m here for the ride and to entertain people.”
His first single, “Something To Do With My Hands,” revealed that Rhett was a solid country guy with a distinctive urban influence that creeps into his music every so often. Since then, he’s had an impact on the country music scene with hits such as “Beer with Jesus” and “It Goes Like This,” the title single from his first release.
Rhett is scheduled to perform on the Kroger Pre-race Concert Stage on June 28 at the Kentucky Speedway’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ Quaker State 400. His performance is included with the purchase of race tickets.
“Country, rock and hip-hop were what I was raised on,” Rhett says on his website. “It’s a strange combination, but it all leaks into what I write.”
This blend of different influences defines his present sound. He was exposed to a variety of music through his famous father, Rhett Akins, who had his own rocky experiences with the country music industry. This contributed to making Rhett wary of investing all of his time and talents into such an emotionally difficult career choice.
His father earned a trio of top 20 hits in the mid-1990s which included the top-five hit “That Ain’t My Truck” and the No. 1 single “Don’t Get Me Started.” His influence was widespread, making an indelible impression on his son as well as inspiring several other southern Georgians, such as Luke Bryan and songwriter Dallas Davidson, to pursue their own country ambitions.
Rhett got to experience the road at an early age with his dad. There were times when Rhett Akins would bring his son out to play drums during the encore at his shows. Other perks included going to Reba McEntire’s Halloween parties and getting help on his English homework from Blake Shelton.
But with the music business industry being a ruthless one, his father’s career got somewhat pushed aside, and Rhett decided the music business was not the pathway he should take in life. Even at that, he found he couldn’t completely get away from music and took up drums during junior high in a punk-rock band called the High Heeled Flip Flops.
During this time, Rhett kept an eye on the future and his options open. He played sports in high school, tearing up his knee in one major accident. That led him to consider a career in kinesiology, the study of human movement. He enrolled at David Lipscomb University in Nashville but changed his mind and changed his major four different times.
He did stick with the college scene, playing the frat party arena. He realized that there was a whole society of kids just like him who had been raised on the same mix of musical culture.
Rhett’s father talked him into performing a one-time show. By this time, his father had re-invented himself as a very successful songwriter, becoming BMI’s Country Songwriter of the Year in 2011.
Rhett Akins convinced his son to open at a music-industry showcase for singer-songwriter Frankie Ballard. There was no pay for the gig, which was unfortunate for Thomas Rhett. He got a parking ticket while loading his equipment into the venue.
But the payoff turned out to be opportunistic in other ways. EMI Music’s Ben Vaughn saw Rhett and liked what he heard enough to ask Rhett after the show if he’d be interested in a publishing deal.
In February 2010, Rhett signed with EMI and soon had his first co-writing session with his dad and Bobby Pinson. Pinson has written songs for such big names as Toby Keith and Sugarland.
Next, Rhett performed for the Big Machine Label Group, and it took only three songs before President and CEO Scott Borchetta announced he wanted Rhett on the roster. He then had his chance to make an album. He teamed with producer Jay Joyce, who has worked as a producer and/or guitarist with Eric Church, Cage The Elephant and Miranda Lambert. The resulting album was created at Joyce’s basement home studio.
Rhett is responsible for co-writing the 2013 singles “1994” by Jason Aldean, “Parking Lot Party” by Lee Brice, and “Round Here” by Florida Georgia Line. During the chart week of Sept. 21, 2013, the Country Airplay chart included five songs within the top 10 that Rhett or his father had co-written, including “It Goes Like This.”

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