Country Next: Tyler Booth
We take pride in introducing fans to country music’s brightest new stars through our Country Next series. Here, we chat with Tyler Booth.
Tyler Booth; Photo by Matthew Berinato
Country newcomer Tyler Booth instantly draws people in with his deep southern drawl, smooth baritone vocals and catchy country hooks. Though his musical talents seem to come naturally, his successes are the result of hard work and dedication.
Born and raised in a small town of Southeastern, Kentucky, Booth, 23, spent many years honing his musical skills. At a young age, he also learned the struggles that come along with being in a band,, often sitting in on the rehearsals of his father Jason, and uncle, Gene’s (his father’s twin) rock band, Stitch Rivet.
In high school, Booth began playing guitar at fairs and festivals around his home state. But, it was his time in college that led to even more opportunities. While studying at Morehead State University, Booth’s passion and work ethic caught hold of an instructor, Scott Miller, who later introduced the burgeoning talent to respected producer/songwriter, Phil O’Donnell (George Strait, Blake Shelton).
Impressed by his authentic voice and songwriting capabilities, O’Donnell invited Booth to visit Nashville to record some songs. The two developed a collaborative friendship while creating Booth’s 2017 self-titled EP. Since then, Booth’s career has maintained an upward trajectory. The singer/songwriter has gone on to share stages with stars like Dwight Yoakum and Whiskey Myers. He also lent his voice on a track on Brooks & Dunn’s 2019 Reboot album.
In 2020, Booth inked a worldwide publishing deal with Warner Chappell Music and signed a recording contract with Villa40/ Sony Music Nashville, following the release of his two singles, “Where the Livin’ Is” and “Long Comes a Girl.” His most recent single, “Half A Mind To Go Crazy,” written with O’Donnell, Brice Long and Wynn Varble, shares the point of view of a hard worker, who is ready to unwind.
“This song is about the guy that works his tail off and never gets a chance to enjoy himself,” Booth shared in a statement. “I feel like everybody’s been there at one point or another. You ain’t missed a day of work in a month of Mondays, and you decide to go out and cut a rug. There are a lot of blue-collar heroes out there, and they make the world go ‘round.”
Booth recently caught up with Country Now to talk all about his artistry, music, and more. Read on to learn more about Tyler Booth…
Melinda Lorge: What inspired you to pursue a career in country music?
Tyler Booth: When I was growing up in Kentucky, there wasn’t a whole lot to do. There wasn’t a drive-in or a bowling alley. All there was, was a lot of bluegrass music and folk music. I remember digging into my dad’s rock records, which were forbidden – I guess he was afraid I’d scratch them or something. But, I figured out how to work the CD player and I put on Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Rolling Stones, and I became heavily influenced by rock ‘n’ roll. I was also influenced by traditional country [artists such as] Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. My grandfather did a lot of carpentry work, so anytime I smell sawdust, it takes me back to those days. But, even now, there are a lot of really great artists that continue to inspire me.
Lorge: Tell me about some of your first shows. What were they like?
Booth: It’s kind of funny because I was a shy kid. I would always stay in my bedroom and sing. I didn’t want to let anybody hear me sing. I worked up the courage to sing around the house, and I remember Dad saying, ‘You better stick to playing that guitar.’ He said I didn’t have a choir voice or a pretty voice. He didn’t say it to be mean or anything, he just thought I was good at guitar and he was excited for me. I kept singing every day and I remember the first time I played out at the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg, Kentucky. They had a karaoke night and I was supposed to support a girl that was performing that night, but she ended up getting cold feet and walked off the stage. So I was alone on stage and everyone was looking at me like, ‘You’re supposed to sing.’ I’m like, ‘Okay. Well, I know ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ and everybody knows that one.’ I didn’t think I was that great or anything, but apparently, my Dad did because he flipped out!
Lorge: Did you build a strong following in Kentucky with those first appearances?
Booth: I think it was pretty gradual. That first appearance was more like karaoke night. Since then, I’ve gotten into songwriting, and I’ve played a lot of local venues and music festivals. I’ve also played in coffee shops and nursing homes, just any place I could and where anybody wouldn’t mind listening to me. I went to college for a little while for Traditional Music Studies and played a lot of gigs in Pikeville and Lexington and those types of places. I got to play my first big show with Frankie Ballard at Manchester Music Hall, and that show right there opened my eyes. That was a big moment for me.
Lorge: One of your first mentors was Phil O’Donnell. How did the two of you connect?
Booth: Frankie Ballard’s show, that I [previously] mentioned, had a videography crew out there. I know I said I was a shy kid earlier, so when I went to school, I never wanted to play a song that I’d written because I was too embarrassed. Dad recorded me at the Manchester show with Frankie Ballard and sent the recording to my professor, Scott Wheeler. My professor went on tour with Philbilly (Phil O’Donnell) and Craig Morgan. So he was like, ‘Hey, I can send this video of you singing these songs that you wrote to a guy I know in Nashville.’ I was like, ‘Well, sure. I have nothing to lose. I’m not doing too hot in school right now anyway.’ So Scott sent [the video] to Phil, and we ended up meeting and hanging out together. We wrote a lot together and eventually, we made that first EP. So, that’s how all that started. I owe a lot to Phil O’Donnell. He’s done a lot for me and I’m very blessed to know him. He’s a great man!
Lorge: Now, you’re signed to a publishing deal and a recording contract. How have those experiences impacted your career as an artist?
Booth: It’s kind of crazy. I had been making these six-hour drives from home to Nashville for three years and it wears on you. All those years I was in college, and out of college, I never got paid for writing songs. I never dreamed that I would get paid to do something that I love to do. I was fine just working a standard blue-collar job. I got lucky! I have a great circle around me, and I couldn’t ask for anything better.
Lorge: Tell me the inspiration behind your recent single, “Long Comes a Girl.”
Booth: “Long Comes a Girl” is just one of those songs where now and then someone will come into your life and change it. For me, it was cutting out those hangouts with your buddies on Fridays, you know? Along comes a girl, and then you drop everything for this girl. And that song’s about the good stuff too. The way she can make you a better person and have you break out and iron on a new shirt. That’s something I never did until a girl came along. I feel like a lot of people can relate to it, and I do as well. I love that song.
Lorge: How about “Where the Livin’ Is”? Can you talk about that one?
Booth: That song for me is where I came from, a one-lane road, and the honeysuckle on a barbed-wire fence. We all just lived on one little road where everybody knew everybody. The opening line, ‘For some, it’s L.A. stuck in a fast lane,’ you know, it can be any one of those things. So, it’s one of those songs about being proud of where you’re from, and I am. And I feel like anyone can relate to that.
Lorge: What do you hope fans will take away from your music?
Booth: There’s a lot of negativity in the world, and I don’t think that’s my music. I like to bring light to people’s lives and make them smile, whether it’s something funny in a song or just some kind of moment that that song takes them to. For me, it’s just about making people happy.
Lorge: You contributed vocals on Brooks & Dunn’s Reboot album. Can you share the story behind that?
Booth: It’s a crazy story. I was asleep on the couch one morning at my parents’ house and dad came over and shrugged me. He was like, ‘Hey Tyler, you have to get up. I have something important to tell you.’ I was like, ‘You’re just trying to get me up! You do this all the time!’ He was like, ‘Brooks & Dunn want you to be on their Reboot record.’ I was like, ‘You are crazy, dad. I’m going back to bed.’ I thought he was making this up. But anyway, we had a funeral service that morning. So I’m sitting in the pew next to my dad, and I’m like, ‘So Dad, is it true what you were telling me?’ He was like, ‘Brooks & Dunn want you to cut ‘Lost and Found.’’ I thought he was kidding. So, I had two days to hone in on that song. I laid it down in the studio and tried my best to meet the standards of Brooks & Dunn because they’re phenomenal. They’re known across Nashville as far as being in the studio and just killing it. So I wanted to go in there and lay down the best vocal I could. I’m just blessed to be apart of that record, and they’re the nicest people.
Lorge: Any particular artist you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
Booth: There’s a lot of great artists out there and I’m pretty much open to a lot of things. I like all kinds of music. I think those things will reveal themselves organically as time passes. I’m excited to see what’s going to happen in the next year or two.
Lorge: Speaking of the next year or two, what’s next for you as far as future goals go?
Booth: We have written a lot of songs over the past year. We still haven’t decided how we are going to release them, though. There are a lot of good things coming this year, and a lot of things yet to be announced. But, I’m excited about the people I’ll be opening up for, and about the songs that we will be putting out.
Melinda Lorge is a Nashville-based freelance writer who specializes in covering country music. Along with Country Now, her work has appeared in publications, including Rare Country, Rolling Stone Country, Nashville Lifestyles Magazine, Wide Open Country and more. After joining Rare Country in early 2016, Lorge was presented with the opportunity to lead coverage on late-night television programs, including “The Voice” and “American Idol,” which helped her to sharpen her writing skills even more. Lorge earned her degree at Middle Tennessee State University, following the completion of five internships within the country music industry. She has an undeniable love for music and entertainment. When she isn’t living and breathing country music, she can be found enjoying time outdoors with family and friends.