Rising artist Russell Dickerson has come a long way since his humble beginnings at Nashville's esteemed Belmont University. The school attracts talented aspiring musicians from across the country, making it the perfect breeding ground for the next big thing.
The Tennessee native used those pivotal college years to hone his craft before inking a publishing deal and independently released his first single, "Green Light." Although the single was well-received, constant rejections from Music Row led the singer to reevaluate his sound.
"I wanted to be Keith Urban - I wanted to write songs like that," Dickerson says. "I tried, but that wasn't totally me. As time went on, we went to record label after record label and wasn't offered a deal. Then I realized, 'Alright, it's time to do me. That's the best that I can do.'"
With this realization came a new and determined focus on songwriting. That creative period would go on to spawn tracks like "Blue Tacoma" and his recent breakthrough single, "Yours." The romantic ballad tells of a love that motivates you into becoming the best person you can be. The heartfelt sentiment instantly connected with country fans, quickly earning thousands of streams online and frequent airplay on satellite radio. Suddenly, fans of Dickerson even began including "Yours" in their wedding soundtracks.
"I wondered, 'What if there was a version that a bride could walk down the aisle to?'" Dickerson explains. With his fans in mind, he headed back into the studio and brought the song back to basics. "We created this super intimate version of the same song, and I think it turned out amazing."
Both the stripped-down and radio-ready versions are featured on Dickerson's new EP, which is named after his latest single. Yours gives listeners a taste of his own brand of country, which combines polished production with thoughtful songwriting. His sound mixes the attitude of Florida Georgia Line (who Dickerson notes as longtime friends) with Sam Hunt's smooth swagger and the alt-rock edge of David Nail. If you're looking for country that teeters on the edge of pop without being too sugary, Yours is a must-listen.
In a few weeks, Dickerson will hit the road alongside Billy Currington and Kelsea Ballerini as support for their national tour. The trek will mark a full-circle moment for Dickerson, who played some of his first concerts ever as support for Currington. "I know Billy and Kelsea have amazing fans, so I'm excited to meet them and hopefully bring them onto the R.D. train," he joked.
Until then, he's focused on finishing his next studio release, which he says he "ambitiously hopes" will be released to fans by May. With a promising new project and a large-scale tour ahead of him, Dickerson seems well positioned to become one of the biggest crossover country artists of the year.