By Bob Doerschuk
© 2011 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.
Some people were born Country. Brett Eldredge came to it a little late — but once he got there, he dug in deep and made it his home.
Growing up in Paris, Ill., Eldredge spent a lot of time hanging out at the local lake. He played baseball, basketball and football in high school. He enjoyed all music, especially big-band swing. Hearing Brooks & Dunn when he was 16 put Country in the center of his map, but the full-blown conversion didn’t occur until his sophomore year at Chicago’s Elmhurst College, when he visited Nashville for the first time.
Eldredge went to the Station Inn to hear his cousin Terry Eldridge, now a member of The Grascals, with The Sidemen. Called to sit in, he sang “Amarillo by Morning”; when he stepped down from the stage, his dreams, his passion and his future had all transformed.
Transferring to Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Eldredge spent his spare time going to songwriter circles and hooking up with other writers. Two years after graduation, he found his break when Byron Gallimore caught a performance. Soon afterwards, he became the first artist signed to the newly revived Atlantic Records Nashville imprint.
Eldredge’s self-titled debut, produced by Gallimore, connects a wide range of moods through the excellence of his co-writing on 10 of 12 tracks as well as his extraordinarily communicative vocals. His first single, “Raymond,” exemplifies all that’s right in modern Country: Written by Eldredge and Brad Crisler, it shares a deeply emotional narrative with sensitivity and power. This quality persists in the evocative small-town imagery of “Signs” (Eldredge, Bill Anderson and Crisler) and every other moment created and captured here.
IN HIS OWN WORDS
“Ol’ Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra.”
PHRASE YOU SAY OVER AND OVER
“That’s just one of them deals.”
FAVORITE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION
“Nikes — I love to run.”
“Socks that don’t match — it’s a weird new lucky charm I discovered after playing my first Grand Ole Opry show in mismatched socks. It went great.”
TITLE OF YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY
“I’m Just as Surprised as You Are.”