By Hannah Compton
Charlie Worsham is one of the most talented singer/songwriters in Country Music today and has an infectious and warming voice with a beautifully strong southern tone. Charlie’s music is a wonderful mix of traditional and modern country with a twist of rock which is complimented by his Mississippi roots. Growing up in Grenada, Mississippi, Charlie later moved to Nashville to pursue a career in country music. After signing with Warner Bros. Records, Charlie released his debut album Rubberband in 2013.
I caught up with Charlie to discuss his up and coming UK Headline tour, his support shows with the legendary Kenny Rogers on his final world tour and his new album, amongst other things.
Hi Charlie, how are you? What have you been up to lately – have you been busy?
Yeah, I’m starting to get busy with this European tour coming up with Kenny Rogers and I am playing a couple of my own shows too. We are looking at photos that we took for the new album which is getting ready to come out. I get to do my first charity event in my hometown Grenada, Mississippi in December. Dates are also appearing on the calendar for the album release. It’s all very exciting.
Sounds like you are very busy then – and the charity event – is that the foundation featured on your website – The Follow Your Heart Scholarship?
That’s it! That is it, indeed!
Well, I was going to ask you about that. Could you tell us a little bit about the scholarship and that it involves?
Yeah! So, my hometown has been very good to me and last year they gave me the key to the city. I was overwhelmed and I didn’t feel like I had accomplished enough in my life to get the key to the city, you know? But they didn’t wait for me to be as big as Blake Shelton to give it to me, so I thought, well why should I wait to be as big as Blake Shelton to give back? I have this tattoo on my arm that says ‘Follow your Heart’ and it’s copied from an autograph from Marty Stuart.
Yes, I read about this autograph on your website.
Yeah. Marty is one of the many people who are Mississippi natives who have made great contributions to the arts. Mississippi has some pretty ugly parts of its history in the sixties, a lot of the darkest days of The Civil Rights Movement – and they occurred right there in Mississippi. I like to call Mississippi a place of great contrast because whilst we have those things that are not so great, we’ve also somehow given the world B.B.King, Elvis Presley, Tammy Wynette, Charlie Pride and Morgan Freeman – there’s a lot! So, the idea is, I had so many people help me find my artistic dream and get a hold of it, that I wanted to start a scholarship for any kid in my hometown (Grenada, Mississippi), who wants to pursue the arts and we want to help them get there. So, this is the first year, we are going to award the first scholarship in the spring and it will be amazing to see both my hometown community and the Nashville community get behind this and support it. A lot of our friends here in the music business have been extremely generous with their time and donating things for auction. It’s going to be a really fun night and will be the weekend before Christmas. We are going to have a big shindig.
Amazing, what a lovely project! I think it is great to get as many kids involved in the arts as possible, especially with it being therapeutic. It is so important for children to have a hobby in their spare time, for them to have a healthy distraction from getting into bad habits or boredom – and for it to be a hobby that can potentially become a career.
Yes, well that’s the thing. We are also working with organisations such as the CMA to raise funding to put guitars in young students’ hands and it’s that exact thing. It doesn’t matter if they play music when they are thirty, what matters is that it gives them a place to go after school, gives them a group of people who might help them find their own identity, gives them confidence and to stay at school.
Well, I wish you all the luck for that night and I look forward to hearing all about it.
You will be releasing a new album soon, but I wanted to go back briefly to your first album Rubberband, which was released in 2013 – and is amazing, by the way. It is very different from anything I have ever heard – what was the inspiration behind the album? Were there songs that never made it on the album that you wish had?
Rubberband was a picture of me over an extended amount of time – from 2010 to 2013. It was a period when I was still figuring out a lot. I think of Rubberband as a multiple exposure picture, I would not change anything about it only because it is true to who I was then. I wish there might have been different things about the picture I took, only because you always want to make yourself look like a badass, ha! I am really proud of that record.
The only thing I would change is that I think I was very controlling. I co – produced that record with my friend Ryan and I did not give him the freedom to push me and challenge me that I wish I could have -but I am proud of it. There are songs that didn’t make the record but there is only one that I wish had – it is a song called Wired That Way which I have actually sung in England. I had written the song and recorded it with a guy called Butch Walker and I wish that we had added it to the record. We didn’t, because it had a couple of lines that might have been taken the wrong way on radio and we didn’t wanna do that. Other than that, I think it was the right picture of me then, but the one (album) we have taken now is definitely a different picture.
Yes, that actually brings me to my next question. The last time you were in the UK, you said you were working on new material. When can we expect to hear it – and what can we expect to hear sonically and lyrically?
Well. I can’t quite tell you just yet when you can expect to hear it, but I can with a wink and a smile say there will be some surprises, some tricks up my sleeves -but I cannot reveal what they are. But I can’t wait to see y’all at these shows.
Will you play any of the new material at the UK shows?
Oh, absolutely! Probably just some of them at The Kenny shows, as that will be a shorter set but when I play my club shows I hope to play as much of the new record as I can. The main difference with the new record is ownership of my originality. I’m not worried about trying to fit in, in the way that I was a little bit worried about before. I think that’s a natural progression for any artist. The other difference sonically is, that the last record was recorded in different studios with different players over a period of time and I called it a multiple exposure photo. This is a single exposure photo – we went into the studio with a four piece band and six days later we had most of the record. It was done in one time and place, so it was like sitting for a portrait, whereas the last one was sort of like a photo blog.
Well, I am looking forward to it being released, we all are – and I look forward to hearing some of it live too.
I can’t wait to share it with y’all. It’s going to be a thrill for me.
As you said, you will be back in November and you will be supporting Kenny Rogers as well as doing some of your own headline shows. How did the support slot for Kenny Rogers come about because it’s Kenny Rogers’ final tour and it must feel amazing to be a part of it?
It’s humbling to think that I have the chance to share such a special moment for both Kenny and his crew and for the fans, ‘cause I’m a fan. I was at C2C and it was such an amazing reception and being embraced there. Whilst I was still over there, my people were saying, we’ve got to get him back over there. Before I even got back to the States they were calling me saying, who can we get for you to support and very quickly, Kenny’s name came up. He is also a Warner Brothers’ artist and I think what helped, is that I had a chance to perform for Kenny at an event at The Country Music Hall Of Fame. They were opening an exhibit on his life and somehow I got to play his song for him – Sweet Music Man -and a connection was made. Then they asked Kenny’s folks if they would consider me and somehow, I think that connection helped. The next thing I know, my manager’s on the phone saying ‘How would you like to open For Kenny Rogers on his farewell tour?’ – and I thought well, you twisted my arm – haha!
Haha yes, it’s a big ask.
I was very lucky to get to see you perform at The Grand Ole Opry in 2014. When was your Opry debut, do you remember how it felt and what did you sing?
I had the chance to play as a young kid at 12 and that was insane. A guy named Mike Snider who is an Opry Member was kind enough to let me be his guest and I remember from that night just the magic of the Opry. There aren’t words for it, it’s just magic and we shared a dressing room with Little Jimmy Dickens, which was awesome because he was a character. Then, as a guest of a member, I had to park over the hill in the backstage area but when I was an official guest they gave me an official parking spot right by the stage door, with an official Opry parking cone. I was like ‘Oh, my gosh, this is different’ haha, you know? It was such a beautiful full circle moment, that’s what I take from it. I can’t even remember what I sang. I just remember standing on the stage and how my grandfather lived for the Opry and the WSM, so every Saturday night that was the highlight of his week. Also, to say on the airwaves a special shout out to all my friends back home – I had family members tuning in and listening – it just meant the world. It’s really the country club, when they sing about the circle being broken and stuff, the Opry embodies that, so it’s a really special place to get you to feel like you belong.
I can imagine, I really love it there.
So you acted and had music in the TV show Bones
Well, I played a dead guy, yeah!
How did that project come about? And what music was played during the show?
Well, I got a random call from Warner Bros about this show. They were looking for someone to play the role of a musician and they would use the music of the singer, so we jumped at the chance – and three days later I was landing in Los Angeles. It was just a really novel experience. I had never been on a set before and was fascinated by what it takes to produce television. They used several of my songs, but the main one they used was called Love Don’t Die Easy. The coolest part of the whole experience was after that episode aired, Love Don’t Die Easy kind of shot to the top of the charts in England.
Yeah, and I had never been to the top of the charts, so in many ways it was my first Number One you know? So I will always be grateful for that and I will always think of my friends across the pond for giving me that gift.
Oh well, you’re welcome!
As a Buffy and Angel fan, did you get to meet David Boreanaz?
I did – and he actually produced that episode. He could not have been more kind or humble or accommodating, as were the whole crew – but he was especially sweet. I had not watched the show, but after the experience I watched many an episode and started bingeing on Netflix.
Who are you listening to in music right now?
Oh Aubrie Sellers – I can’t get enough of her record. I have always been a fan and student of Eric Church and his music – and his most recent record is no exception. Then I’ve been digging back into the more legendary artists. I’m on a bit of a kick with some Tom T. Hall songs. Jeannie C Riley cut a song of his called Harper Valley PTA, which was like the biggest song of 1968. Also some Little Jimmy Dickens’ records – he was actually pretty ahead of his time. Then my next music rabbit hole I am going to jump into is the music of the Monument Records that Fred Foster produced on Dolly Parton and Kris Kristofferson – as well as Roy Orbison and the Charlie Daniels’ catalogue. Fred Foster and Charlie Daniels were two of the inductees last night in the Country Music Hall Of Fame and I got to attend the ceremony. A lot of the records they made I was not aware of and just fell in love with.
Well, we are excited to see you soon and thanks so much for talking to me today.
No, thank you – and thank you for everything you do for me and other artists.
You’re welcome and I will see you on tour.
You can catch Charlie on his UK tour this month, tickets available here :
You can download Charlie’s album Rubberband here;
Rubberband by Charlie Worsham