HOMETOWN: Lyons, Ga.
INFLUENCES: Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Travis Tritt
ALBUM: Craig Campbell, out now
Craig Campbell first fell in love with music while performing at church, where he played piano for his local Baptist congregation throughout his teens. Winning a regional singing competition at age 15 set his career path in stone. “I wanted to be onstage for sure,” he says. “The crowd response is what drove it. There’s nothing better than to hear somebody applaud.” He moved to Nashville in 2002 to take a shot at country-music stardom. There he found work playing in local venues and singing on songwriter demos, and learned to write songs with the town’s talented tunesmiths. “It takes on a completely different meaning whenever you can stand up and say, ‘Here’s a song I wrote,’ as opposed to, ‘Here’s a song I like,’” notes Campbell. He attracted the notice of hitmaking producer Keith Stegall, who helmed the singer’s self-titled debut. “It’s traditional, back-to-basics, true country music,” he says. “It’s what I am. I can’t be anything else.”