Drew Parker has been turning heads with his musical talent since he was a child. Growing up, the singer/songwriter discovered his passion for music while participating in a singing group through his local church.
Parker’s confidence, growth, and persistence eventually led him to Nashville, where he found success in just a short amount of time. He signed his first publishing deal with RiverHouse / WarnerChappell Records in 2017, and began writing songs that include a co-write on Jake Owen’s No. 1 single “Homemade,” a cut on Luke Combs’ debut platinum album This Ones For You as well as Combs’ “1,2 Many” featuring Brooks & Dunn.
Fast forward to now, and Parker is out with his brand new EP entitled, While You’re Gone. Produced by Phil O’Donnell, the eight-song collection, which dropped on Wednesday, (Oct. 21), finds Parker bringing back the ‘90s era of country sound and includes songs such as “Party In The Back,” “The Runway,” and the title track, written with Jameson Rodgers.
Parker, a recent SiriusXM Highway Find, who is set to open for Luke Combs on the What You See Is What You Get Tour in 2021, caught up with Country Now to talk all about his background, new EP, and more.
Continue reading to find out more about Drew Parker in our exclusive Q&A below.
What led you to want to pursue a career in country music?
I grew up singing in church in a small town in Covington, Georgia. That’s where my love for music started. Groups would come in and put on little concerts at the church, and that interested me. I got up on stage and sang when I was six, and that’s when I knew that’s where I wanted to be. I loved it so much. From that moment on, the passion for music just grew. When I was about 12 years old, I asked my parents if I could go around singing in churches and that kind of thing. And my parents were so supportive of that. We went out and bought music equipment and hit the road, and it progressed all through that. Then, in high school, I was invited to do an open mic at a little restaurant in my hometown, and that was the first time I ever sang a country song in front of people other than my family. I loved it so much.
Did anything about the music business surprise you when you came to Nashville?
I didn’t understand the songwriting process. I didn’t know there are songwriters in Nashville who strictly write songs for other people. I assumed that every artist wrote their own songs. It worked out for me because I’ve had some success as a songwriter with other people cutting my songs. I moved into town five years ago this week, and it’s funny to think that I had no idea about that process when I first moved to town five years ago.
Speaking of success, you earned a No. 1 with Jake Owen’s “Homemade.” How did you celebrate that accomplishment?
Well, my wife and I celebrated in the hospital. My wife gave birth to our first child, a baby girl, back in March. So, ‘Homemade’ went number one on March 22, and then my wife gave birth on March 24. We spent that whole week in the hospital. It was great! It was early in the pandemic, and things in Nashville had shut down like the week before the song went number one. With everything starting to close down, we, unfortunately, didn’t get to do a big celebration with the songwriters and with Jake [Owen] and that kind of thing. But we talked, and everybody said their congratulations. So, it was a great week. I have no complaints at all. It was fantastic to have the number one!
How has that been with quarantine, having your first kid, and seeing success with your music at the same time?
I have told so many people that if there’s an artist that has been out on the road and can find a silver lining in not playing shows right now, it’s me. After my daughter, Harley Greer, was born, I was supposed to be gone for like three weeks straight out on the West Coast. Those shows got canceled, and then, as we all know, every other show has been canceled. I spent the first six months of my daughter’s life at home and not playing shows. I miss playing shows tremendously, and I am so ready to get back on the road, but if anybody can see the silver lining in all of this, it’s me because I’ve been able to watch my daughter grow up. So that has been great!
Along with being able to have more time with family, you’ve had time to also work on your EP, which just came out a few days ago. What can you tell me about that project?
So, I’ve been writing songs for five years now, here in Nashville, and I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to say. I’ve had these songs for a while, and I think they are relatable. Five years ago, when I started to write songs, it was like, what is my goal? Well, my goal is, I want to write songs that I would want to listen to while driving down the road with my windows down, whether that’s a sad song or an up-tempo love song. So, I’ve spent the last five years trying to write all of those songs. I’m glad everybody is finally able to hear them!
What’s the inspiration behind your song “Runway?”
I wrote this song about four years ago. When we wrote it, it was just a good love song. But, the weekend after my wife told me she was pregnant, I was out playing a show, and I was playing that song. Right in the middle of playing it, I realized that I wrote it for my unborn daughter at the time. It’s crazy how songs can find new meaning and take on a whole new life. That’s what ‘Runway’ did. In a way, when I wrote this song four years ago, I wrote it as a letter to my daughter to never give up on her dreams, always chase her dreams, and not let anybody tell her that she can’t achieve her dreams. This is one of my favorite songs that we’ve ever written.
Has being a new father impacted the way you write songs now?
I don’t know if it’s affected my songwriting. I’ve written a few father/daughter songs. But, I haven’t dived into all of that. I’ll tell you what. It has changed the way I listen to songs. I heard a song yesterday, and the last few times I heard it, I wasn’t a dad. Now that I’ve gotten to listen to it as a dad, it has taken on a whole new meaning. So, I don’t think that I’ve changed the way I write songs. I am more open to writing a father/daughter song, but I think it has mostly changed the way I listen to songs.
Some of the songs on your project namecheck ‘90s country stars like Billy Ray Cyrus and Keith Whitley. To you, is it important to honor that era of country music?
Yeah, 100 %. That is the era of music that I live and die on. I don’t know that I ever would have fallen in love with country music the way that I did if it weren’t for Keith Whitley and Ronnie Dunn. That was the pinnacle for me, those guys – two of the greatest singers that ever walked the face of the earth. When I sit down to write a song or sing a song, that is what I am trying to chase. Not necessarily Keith Whitley or Ronnie Dunn, but chase those nostalgic feelings that I felt when I was riding down the road as a kid listening to ’90s country music.
One of my favorite songs on the EP is ‘Hell Yeah Say When I’m In.’ How did that one come about?
I wrote that song with Ray Fulcher and Jonathan Singleton. Jonathan had the idea for this song while driving into town one morning before one of our writing sessions. He sent that idea to us, and I think he threw out the line about The Dukes of Hazzard. As soon as he said The Dukes and Hazzard line, I was like, ‘Okay. We have got to write this!’ This is 100% me because the town that I grew up in, Covington, Georgia, is where The Dukes of Hazzard was filmed. I related to that a lot, so when he said that, I was hooked!
What I wanted to do with that song was put all these things in there that meant a ton to me. So with the line, ‘That’d be like askin’ if I wanna pick Willie’s guitar,’ Willie Nelson is my dad’s all-time favorite country artist. ‘Wanna blow the horn on the Duke boys’ car.’ That show was filmed in my hometown. ‘Wanna drink a cold beer with John Wayne.’ Growing up, I used to sit and watch John Wayne movies with my granddad religiously. To this day, he still only watches John Wayne movies. Then, Keith Whitley is my all-time favorite country artist. I wanted to put all these things in there that meant so much to me. Hopefully, when you listen to this song, you can say, ‘Okay, I know exactly who this guy is.’ It’s just a fun song where we were able to capture, who I am as a person, and who I am as an artist.
Have you been able to play any of your new songs for your fans yet?
Yeah, we have. I started playing these songs earlier this year when I was out on tour with Luke Combs. I did about ten shows with him before we got shut down due to COVID-19. So, I was able to play all of those songs out on the road. We’ve also played some of them on Instagram and Facebook live.
You’ll be going back out on the road, hopefully soon. What are you looking forward to the most about that?
Luke [Combs] and I are good buddies. I met him about six years ago. Before I moved to town, I opened a show for him in Rome, Georgia. We hit it off, became friends, and I started driving back-and-forth to Nashville writing songs with him. He’s got a few songs that we’ve written together. He’s just a good buddy of mine. We have a ton of fun out there because we already know each other, and we’ve been friends for a long time, so I’m looking forward to hanging out with him. I’m also looking forward to meeting all those new fans out there.
What sort of things are you doing to keep busy during quarantine?
I’m just having fun with the kiddo. I also just recently went out and bought a new bow, so I’m going bow hunting this fall. Then, I picked up a new hobby during quarantine called iRacing. It’s just like a NASCAR simulator thing. I’ve picked up that, and I’ve been doing that a lot.
Fans can follow Drew Parker on Instagram.