Introducing Zach Top: The Rising Star Bringing Real Country Music Back To Country Radio
Top is reshaping the current country music landscape by bringing ’90s country back to the spotlight with his debut single, “Sounds Like The Radio.”
Zach Top; Photo by Citizen Kane Wayne
Emerging artist Zach Top has officially wrapped up his first year as a full-time singer/songwriter. To celebrate, he reflected upon his budding career and his mission to revive the spirit of the ‘90s icons that he grew up listening to, such as George Strait, Keith Whitley, and Randy Travis. Top kicks off 2024 with the release of his new single, “Sounds Like The Radio,” a tune that continues his ongoing mission while also incorporating his original flare.
The twang-riddled singer has known for a long time that his greatest passion in life lies within achieving his own lasting legacy in the industry that would make his musical heroes proud. After living in Colorado and working as a contracted construction worker for about five years, he finally took a big step towards achieving his dreams and made the move to Nashville in 2021. Once in Music City, things started to heat up for the 25-year-old as he secured a publishing deal with Bob Doyle’s Major Bob Music and made his Grand Ole Opry debut on July 27, 2022. He has since performed in the coveted circle multiple times and even debuted his first country single, “Cold Beer & Country Music,” on the historic stage.
Top has already got a few milestone achievements under his belt, but everything changed this year as he finally started to see his lifelong goals come to fruition.
“Gotta pinch myself every now and then,” Top admitted to Country Now. “Since April that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been making music for a living and nothing else. It feels like it’s been a lot of work to get here and now I’m just very thankful and wouldn’t rather be doing anything else. I feel like it’s what I was born to do. So, really happy, really grateful. I’m really proud to be making music full time this year.”
After months of releasing new songs like “Justa Jonesin’,” “The Kinda Woman I Like” and “Busy Doin’ Nothin’,” Top is ready up to add another single to his catalog in anticipation of his sophomore album. “Sounds Like The Radio” has already received rave reviews through snippets shared to social media and live deliveries during Top’s show-stopping performances, but on January 8, it will officially impact the airwaves.
Then Zach Top will bring his new music on the road as he joins CMA Entertainer of the Year Lainey Wilson on her 2024 Country’s Cool Again Tour. Top, alongside Jackson Dean and Ian Munsick will serve as special guests on the 35-city trek that kicks off May 31 in Nashville, TN.
Read the Q&A below to take a closer look into Zach Top’s musical background, learn what to expect from his next set of releases, rediscover his memorable National Anthem performance, and more.
You knew early on you wanted to pursue country music as a career, so what made you first fall in love with the genre?
My folks just always had good old country music playing around the house when I was growing up. George Strait was the first one, I think, that stood out to me. I always thought he looked pretty cool in a cowboy hat and holding a guitar and as a little boy, I thought, I might like to do that too. My mom’s got pictures of me when I’m three years old or something holding the guitar backwards. She said I used to throw a big fit if my shirt wasn’t all tucked in right, and I didn’t have my boots and Wrangler’s on, and my hat, so I sounded like a really charming kid. At least I had a nice cowboy sense of style. But yeah, it was just always playing around the house, my folks were not musical at all, but loved music, and for whatever reason that bug caught me. I didn’t want to do anything else but play guitar and sing.
How did you end up in a bluegrass band with your siblings?
I’ve got a younger brother and two older sisters. I’m afraid I wanted to start it and somehow, I got the rest of them coerced into it. I started taking guitar lessons when I was five and the teacher that we happened to find was big into the bluegrass world. So she was kind of the one, you know, I just wanted to learn George Strait songs, but she got us pointed in the bluegrass direction. I guess my little brother and my next oldest sister both took a liking to it and wanted to start playing as well. So he started playing mandolin, she started playing fiddle, we started playing a little bit together, and then my oldest sister who was a really good classical piano player, she picked up the bass. I think we played our first show when I was seven years old. We opened up for the Patsy Cline musical down at the Sunnyside High School, I believe. The fella that asked us to do that is a real close family friend, and he likes to tell this story. He called my dad and asked if we’d do the show, and my dad said, “Well, you’re gonna have to ask him.” So, he put me on the phone and I guess Randy asked me if we wanted to do the show, and I said, “Yeah, we wanna do it, why not?” And he said, “Well, it’s a couple months from now,” and I said, “That’s good, by then we’ll know some songs.”
Your love for music brought you to Nashville a few years ago and soon after you made your Grand Ole Opry debut in 2022. What was that experience like for you?
Obviously, I think outside of country music even, but in country music, that’s the most storied, historic, hallowed stage you can be on. And all my heroes, everybody that I ever idolized and wanted to sound like and wanted to look like and whatever it was, wanted to write songs like, they all came through there. So getting that nod from the folks running the show over there, them asking me to be on there was like, golly, if I never do another thing, I think I’ve made it.
Now that you’re an artist full-time, where do you see yourself taking your career from here?
At this point, I think my fans are hungry for more music. We’ve got a few songs out on the streaming platforms and all that good stuff now, but we’ve got so many songs written and piled up and ready to go out and have people fall in love with them. I just can’t wait to get more music out.
Can you talk about the new music you have coming this year?
We’ve got a radio single coming on January 8. We’ve got a full record coming in the spring, I believe it’s in April. Don’t have a date for sure on that yet but looking forward to just staying out on the road, there’s nothing I love more than going out and playing shows for people. So, as long as people keep showing up to listen, I’m gonna be going to every little town in this country and beyond trying to bring country music to folks.
What can fans expect from your new single, “Sounds Like The Radio”?
It’s funny, we didn’t really set out to write the song about me necessarily, but the way it turned out, it’s a little like, man, that was how I grew up. The chorus goes, “sounds like the radio back in ‘94, hook a speaker up to my soul and it sounds like the radio.” I just feel like I grew up living and breathing this music and specifically what I fell in love with was old-school stuff – George Strait and Alan Jackson and Keith Whitley, all that kind of good stuff. And as long as that was getting played on the radio, I was listening to the radio and when that kind of went away I quit listening to the radio and I guess had to find it on CDs and Spotify and all that good stuff. So it means a little bit to me to kind of bring some of that flavor back, some of that classic country sound back to country radio, something I think has been missing for a long time. If we can get this old country shuffle up the charts, I’ll feel like maybe I’ve done something for country music.
Before the song’s release had you gotten the chance to see fans resonate with it in your live shows?
Folks have definitely heard it a little bit if they’ve come out to shows. I’m excited, I think that there’s a little buzz about the song. I think folks are excited to get the full thing.
As you mentioned, an album is also in the works. How will this project compare to your debut album?
So that last project we put out was a straight-up bluegrass project, which I loved. I was very proud of it, but that was coming from my bluegrass roots and this will be kind of the first big introduction for folks to more of my songwriting, you know, the Stone Cold Country music. That’s really where my heart is at. And I’m really excited for folks to hear that. I think it’s going to be a 12-track album, so we’ll have a good little batch of songs on there, all stuff that I’ve co-written with other guys around town here and my producer. I’m pumped about it. I think people are going to love it. If they like what we’ve been putting out so far, it’s just going to be more of the same good old country music. I think it’s going to be really fun.
You recently posted about singing the National Anthem at NFR and received rave reviews from fans. How did it feel to get such positive feedback from performing at an event of that stature?
I’m always honored to get to do the anthem at any point, and it’s also the most stressful thing I think I’ve ever done and maybe ever will do. I don’t get all that nervous anymore to get on stage and play a show, but you get out there and stand in the middle of that dirt and you feel kind of naked. There’s nothing covering you up. You better nail that. And I think my worst nightmare is ever forgetting the words in the middle of the national anthem, that would be embarrassing for sure, but very thankful for the opportunity to get to do that. I was honored that they picked me to open up the night with the anthem and thankful that folks seem to enjoy it. They’ve been really kind to me online and listening back to that version, it seems like people really enjoyed it So I was glad I was able to do a nice job on that and do a little version of the anthem that folks enjoyed.
Next year you will get to put your music in front of Lainey Wilson’s fans as you join her on the road for her Country Cool Again Tour. What are you most looking forward to about this opportunity?
I actually haven’t met her. We texted back and forth a little bit… I’m best friends with her boyfriend, Devlin “Duck” Hodges. We’re real tight. He’s my best friend. I don’t know if he’d say I’m his best friend, but he better. I’m just kidding. But yeah, we kind of become buddies and made the connection with Lainey through that. So very excited. I think she is a really cool, really genuine, obviously, phenomenally talented person. Very excited to get to know her a little bit and be able to be working with her. Out of anybody that’s out there right now, I have so much respect for what she’s doing as an artist and for country music. Really excited that we get to be hitched along on that ride for her tour next year, and thankful that she chose us. We’ll see, maybe we can get some songs written, or get a duet out for people. I’m sure there’ll be all kinds of foolishness we’ll have to bless people with.
Fans can keep up with Zach Top on Instagram.
Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.