Country up-and-comer Brett Eldredge has always been attracted to singers, a fact that should come as no surprise to anyone whos heard the Illinois natives soulful, distinctive baritone. "I always gravitated towards big voices, because as a kid I had this big voice coming out of me," says Brett. "I was hooked on the story that somebody would be telling through their voice." With his debut album slated to be released in 2013 on Atlantic Records and new single "Dont Ya" at radio now, Brett is finally getting the chance to share a story of his own.
The Eldredge family wasnt particularly musical. Distant cousin Terry Eldredge is a member of seminal bluegrass outfit the Grascals, but closer to home, Bretts talent was the exception. The little kid with the big voice grew up listening to records from Ray Charles, Ronnie Dunn, and, of course, the greatest of them all: Frank Sinatra. His parents bought a guitar and a small sound system for Brett when he was a teen, and while he didnt immediately take to the instrument "I never could sit still long enough to learn it," he admits the sound system and its wireless microphone became a cornerstone of his early musical training. "I used to be nervous to sing, but once I got that thing, I would play a Sinatra track and try to hit it exactly right," Brett remembers. "I lived on a lake, and I would sing in my backyard. The speakers would blare out towards the water and my neighbors would all be listening."
Soon, those informal backyard concerts grew into something more, and by age 15, Eldredge was a performer in demand for local functions. "Wed take the sound system and load into my moms minivan. My dad and brother would unload the sound system, Id grab the wireless mic and my mom would run sound. Id be singing, and these older ladies would be putting dollar bills in my pockets. That was kind of my intro into the music biz." An interesting intro into music, but the way it shaped him is clear. "I went from staring at the floor to moving with the music," Brett says. "I really grew to love the feel of the crowd. I live off that energy."
Brett says there was no question that his passion for performance would carry him to Nashville. He had no Plan B. "I have a one-track mind with music always going through my head." His move to Music City after college made one thing clear: He was going to have to pick up that abandoned guitar. "I saw people on stage playing these songwriter nights, just them and a guitar," he says. So Brett locked himself in a room practicing cover after cover, eventually writing some songs of his own, which he remembers being "pretty crappy." "It took me a while to finally get a hold of the guitar, but once I did I was hooked," he says. "I like to get up there and tell my story with some chords and my voice. I think being a student of singers works to my advantage, because it taught me how to phrase things. I didnt know how to write songs at the beginning, but I had melodies all over the place in my head."