Thomas Rhett Biography

Thomas Rhett photo by Justin Nolan Key, courtesy of The Valory Music Co.

It’s futile to fight destiny. Plenty of people do, of course, battle against their future, but if something is truly inevitable, fighting just delays the outcome. Funny thing about destiny. If something is truly designed to occur – particularly a career choice – the path is often extraordinarily easy once the resistance is dropped.

Just ask Thomas Rhett. The singer-songwriter spent most of his teens figuring out what, other than music, he could do for a career. Kinesiology, business, anatomy, media – anything but music. None of those rather ordinary pursuits seemed to work out.

But a songwriting deal? Heck, Thomas Rhett stumbled into that. And nine months later, he had a song on Jason Aldean’s My Kinda Party, a double-platinum project that became the best-selling country album of 2011.

A recording contract? Thomas Rhett auditioned for at least seven record companies, and every one of them wanted to sign him.

Valory – the home of Reba McEntire, Brantley Gilbert, Jewel and Justin Moore – won out, and now it’s seemingly just a matter of time before the general public discovers the quirky word jumbles and infectious grooves that had Music Row salivating over Thomas Rhett’s future. The one that, in retrospect, seems as if it were always supposed to happen. Even Thomas Rhett doesn’t completely understand it.

"I don’t have a clue where it’s going to go or where it’ll end up, but the journey is cool enough for me," he muses. "I’m here for the ride and to entertain people."

And entertain he does. His first single, "Something To Do With My Hands," reveals Thomas Rhett as a solid country guy with a distinct urban streak. Other tracks from his debut show someone who’s clever enough to rhyme "Ryman" with "diamond," who mulls chatting with Jesus over beer, who throws AC/DC hard-rock chants and Coolio hip-hop phrasing into songs that are otherwise country.

It’s as if Roger Miller had been reincarnated and gone on a songwriting retreat in the ‘hood.

"Country, rock and hip-hop were what I was raised on," Thomas Rhett says. "It’s a strange combination, but it all leaks into what I write."

Thus, Thomas Rhett mixes burning slide guitar, Southern drawl and Little Feat-ish rhythms in "Whatcha Got In That Cup"; redneck lyrics, crunchy chords and a reference to hard-core rapper DMX in "All-American Middle Class White Boy"; and a magnetic brew of Robert Johnson blues, Appalachian harmonica and Common hip-hop phrasing in "Front Porch Junkie."

Odd as that blend might seem, Thomas Rhett’s twisted sonic concoction is part of a natural progression, one that saw him exposed to tons of music by a famous father whose own rocky experiences with the music business made Thomas Rhett wary of investing his talents in such an emotionally difficult vocation.

Thomas’ full name – Thomas Rhett Akins Jr. – forever connects him with his dad, Rhett Akins, who earned a trio of Top 20 hits in the mid-1990s. Those songs – including the Top 5 "That Ain’t My Truck" and the No. 1 single "Don’t Get Me Started" – made an indelible impression, inspiring several other southern Georgians, such as Luke Bryan and ace songwriter Dallas Davidson, to pursue their own country ambitions.

Concert tours took Rhett Akins away from home often, beginning just a year or two before Thomas Rhett enrolled in school. But there was no father-son rebellion in the Akins household. Despite his tour schedule, Dad made it a point to be there for his son’s football games. And Thomas Rhett loved his father’s music – "I was five, jamming out to his records, going to kindergarten," he recalls.

Thomas Rhett went on the road with the elder Akins, too. Sometimes his dad would bring the kid out to play drums during the encore at his shows. And there was a period when Thomas Rhett was eight or nine that he popped on stage to cover Will Smith.

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