Before country breakout star Matt Stell wrapped an acoustic guitar around his neck – the 6 feet 7 inches tall hitmaker was dribbling a basketball at the collegiate level and was pursuing a career in the medical field. Following a medical mission trip to Haiti, Stell was quickly accepted into a pre-med program at Harvard University’s Extension School. Yet, before making the decision to dedicate his livelihood to the white coat, an opportunity to write songs in Music City came knocking on his door.
With his secret musical talent in his back pocket, Stell did not hesitate to jump on the life-altering opportunity. After scoring a publishing deal with Wide Open Music in 2014, the self-taught musician learned the ins and outs of the country music space. While having a hand in penning for notable names in the honky-tonk town, he used the same songwriting power to create his debut single, “Prayed for You.” Overnight, the struggling independent artist from Arkansas became a chart-topping singer-songwriter, and his late-in-life goal of being a country artist turned into a reality.
Now, the multi-platinum artist sits before Country Now with a long stem glass of warm red wine in hand at one of the most prestigious events in music – CMT’s Live In The Vineyard in Napa Valley, California. “I am looking forward to being a fan, as well as playing shows. It is just such a great time out here in wine country,” shared Stell ahead of his performance at Nickel & Nickel Winery. “If somebody is passionate about something, I’m interested in it. Being around wine folks that put in all this time, money, energy, and expertise to making this [holds up a pristine aged bottle of red] into an art form – I mean, I identify with those kind of people.”
Similar to a vigneron who channels their energy to perfecting their craft in order to bring their delectable grapes to the table – Stell has spent his time as a musician honing in on his sound and performing style. With the understanding of who he is as a well-rounded vocalist, Stell garnered over 470 million streams to date across his catalog. Off the heels of his reflective ballad “That Ain’t Me No More,” the hitmaker gave hungry fans a taste of his forthcoming 2022 project with “Boyfriend Season.”
Upon release, music-goers began to wonder which lady was the inspiration behind the heart-wrenching lyrics. However, after his grand appearance on the E! hit series The Bradshaw Bunch – Stell’s loyal community thought the breakup ballad addressed a romantic relationship with Rachel Bradshaw. Although, while sipping on wine in an enchanted room, the singer put the rumors to rest. “Rachel and the whole Bradshaw family are sweet people, but we are not together, and we remained friends. I wish her the best during cuffing season, but that song is not about Rachel. It’s not about anyone in particular… it’s not about Victoria either,” he exclusively shared with Country Now reporter Tiffany Goldstein.
He continued to uncover the storyline behind the lyrics and how the genre is oversaturated with love songs. “A lot of country music now is love songs about how happy everybody is in their relationship. I’m happy for them. Although, that is not where I am at in my life, and you got to write what your truth is,” he revealed. “I have been on the losing end of plenty relationships. Sometimes, they were my fault and sometimes they weren’t. When I write songs, I am writing a character, and it is not me 100 percent. It’s not autobiographical, but there are flavors of that in there. That song is just about the other side of what you typically don’t hear,” he concluded.
Smiling ear to ear, Stell confessed that he has been grinding in the studio and working alongside his team to put out new music come next year. “We have been in the studio off and on, and we’re going to have new music out in 2022. I think we will probably take my EP now and make a full record out of it with some new music. My favorite thing is making new music and releasing it.”
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While the young bachelor is enjoying the single life, he admitted that there would be new love songs on the track list. However, he did not fail to mention that a well-written love song can represent different aspects of life. “A love song can mean a lot of different things to people like they can use it to get married. That is not something I have lived through, but I do love a great song. So, some of that will be on there. A lot of life that I have lived will be represented on that record. This project is coming from a real place,” he concluded before sharing that the release date is still up in the air.
“I don’t have a set in stone date. If It were up to me, I would release it in 20 minutes. I would love just to turn it loose, but all my friends at Sony like to do it a little differently. They like to have a plan and do it right. So, I’m glad I have them on my team,” says the eager artist.
Shortly after revealing details about the hush-hush project in the pipeline, the country music star took center stage at the welcome reception in the middle of a breathtaking estate. Stell’s contagious energy and captivating sound quickly started the party and got the prestigious guest list pouring another round.
When he wrapped his intimate and fascinating set, it was apparent that label directors, radio programmers, and other gifted talent on-site were saddened to see him pass the mic to the next in line. However, he brought the heat back to Regusci Winery to join Nashville’s hottest leading lady, Tenille Arts to sing their recently released duet, “Over You is You.”
Although CMT’s Live In The Vineyard star-studded event was closed off to the public, Stell fans can see his cutting-edge talent out on the road now. The “Better Than That” singer is currently on his headline tour, and tickets are still available for purchase here.