Special Guest Craig Campbell!
Growing up in rural Lyons, Georgia, singer/songwriter Craig Campbell learned one
important lesson from the ZZ Top records his mother favored: “Every girl’s crazy ’bout a
That’s one reason Campbell is always impeccably well tailored on stage, and at industry
awards shows and events. But he says there’s an even more important reason: respect.
For Campbell, caring enough to wear a pressed, button-down shirt and black cowboy hat
when he performs is a show of respect for his fans, for the successful career he considers
himself lucky enough to have, and most of all for the country music genre itself. It’s also
a credit to his no nonsense, “yes, m’am/no, sir” upbringing, which made Campbell into
the Southern gentleman he is today.
That respect is amply evident on Campbell’s new EP, “Outta My Head,” a five song set
that solidifies Campbell’s standing as country music’s hippest neo-traditionalist, a niche
he’d already begun to carve out with his critically-acclaimed, self-titled 2011 debut
album. The EP offers fans an impressive taste of the sophomore album he’s working on
with producers Keith Stegall (Alan Jackson, Zac Brown Band) and Matt Rovey (CCMA
Album Of The Year Producer) for release in early 2013, which includes tracks penned by
Campbell as well as some of Nashville’s other elite songwriters.
The role comes naturally to the artist Roughstock.com called “one of the most promising
neo-traditionalist country music artists today.” Among the albums Campbell says he’d
most like his to be compared to are Clint Black’s “Killin’ Time,” and Tracy Lawrence’s
“Sticks And Stones,” plus “Here In The Real World,” the debut album by another
singer/songwriter Campbell is frequently compared to: Alan Jackson. Says Campbell of
that style of music, “That’s what I absolutely love. But I need to put my own unique
stamp on it. So the challenge for me back when I first signed my deal with Bigger Picture
Group was how do I do that? How do I show my love for that style of music, but make it
my own? I believe that’s exactly what we’ve done here.”
The EP, which includes two songs co-written by Campbell, offers something for
everyone along those lines. The mesmerizing and catchy title song and first single, “Outta
My Head,” tells the tale of a man trying to shake off the memory of a lost love. Just as the
singer attempts to forget a woman from his recent past, the up-tempo song similarly
defies any attempt by listeners to get it out of their heads after hearing it.
The hilarious “My Baby’s Daddy” puts a fresh twist on the theme of an overprotective
father keeping a wary eye on his daughter’s would-be husband. Instead of telling that
story from the father’s perspective, it’s the scared suitor who shares his story here, via
Campbell’s rich baritone.
“That’s Why God Made A Front Porch” offers a relaxed vibe in an ode to slowing down
and powering down for a little while. The romantic “Keep Them Kisses Comin’” sets an
amorous tone, while poignant set closer “When She Grows Up” follows that romantic
relationship to the next step of marriage and family, and sends a relatable message to
dads raising those young daughters who think they hung the moon. Campbell was
thinking of his own two girls, ages 2 and 4, when he wrote the song, which features some
brief but adorable vocals from his eldest, Preslee.
“Even before it was on an album, I could sing that song in concert and look out and see at
least one or two grown men crying,” says Campbell of the touching song.
Campbell says his goal in choosing songs for this project was a simple one. “I want
people to know that’s really who I am, and I’m not faking it,” he says of his music. “It’s
the real deal,” adds the singer who got his start playing music and winning talent
competitions in his hometown, which has a population of just 4,000 people.
Georgians like Campbell are dominating the country music scene these days, and he
believes it’s partly because they share genuine rural country roots and a similar work
ethic. Like other artists, Campbell has made sacrifices for the sake of a music career, but
he says, “There’s nobody who wants it more than me.”
That’s not to say Campbell is all business. Fans have started to become familiar with his
quick wit and dry humor through programs like GAC’s “Behind The Video” special on
the making of “Outta My Head,” and his turn at the microphone as co-host of the 2012
CMA Awards coverage on AOL’s popular site “The Boot.” He’s not afraid to share his
playful side, either. He lights up in conversation sharing pictures and talking about the
fun he and his band and crew have on the road playing on the cornhole boards Campbell
had custom painted with his logo. Asked what most fans don’t know about him yet,
Campbell grins, “I’m an amazing cornhole player.”
But his busy career doesn’t leave much time for backstage games. Campbell became one
of the most successful new artists of 2011 when his debut album was released and
spawned the hits “Family Man,” “Fish,” and “When I Get It,” accompanied by some very
creative videos. He continues that tradition with “Outta My Head,” in which he takes on
the challenge of acting for the first time, playing a dual role in the mind-bending new
First single “Family Man” was a top 15 hit and featured in HBO’s “True Blood,” while
“Fish” has sold a quarter of a million downloads. To cap off 2012, Campbell was
surprised by his label president with a plaque commemorating four consecutive charted
hits with over a billion radio airplay audience impressions and more than half a million downloads. He’s also made national TV appearances on “Fox & Friends” and
“Huckabee,” won songwriting awards from SESAC, and been nominated by fans for two
American County Awards.
Prior to landing his record deal, Campbell had spent time on the road playing keyboards
in the bands of Tracy Byrd and then Luke Bryan, gigs that inspired him nightly. “Just
being out there on the road and seeing the reaction from the audience to them and their
songs, that was fuel to the fire,” he says. “That’s what I wanted for myself.” He was later
discovered playing a regular gig at the downtown Nashville honky-tonk, The Stage.
Now, as the star of the show, he’s gotten so at ease on stage that he’s taken to sometimes stepping away from his guitar or piano and just working the stage while he sings. “That’s what the audience wants to see, so I challenged myself, and I’m getting more comfortable
with it,” he says. “It’s easier to do during a hit song that everybody’s raising cain to.”
He’s also gained extensive touring experience in the last two years, including his first
overseas shows in Switzerland and Australia, which were well received. “It’s amazing
enough to me to go somewhere here in the United States and see people sing back my
songs to me from the audience,” he says, “but when you fly 9,000 miles around the world
to Australia, and somebody spots you in the middle of a crowd and tells you how much
they love your music, I can’t explain how that makes you feel.”
Likewise, his songwriting has also been influenced—and improved—by the support he
gets from fans. “After the first album, I realized that there was millions of people out
there just like me,” he says. “I was shocked at all the responses I was getting on Twitter
and Facebook from people who went through the same things I was going through. I
realized we’re all in this together. There are more people in this world that are the same
than different. So I figured out that I could just write my songs, and there’s going to be
somebody out there that relates.”
But nothing influences the songwriting of this devoted family man more than his wife,
Mindy, and daughters Preslee and Kinni Rose. “They’re everywhere in my music,” he
says. “Most of the inspiration I have comes from them.”
With his debut album earning rave reviews from multiple media outlets, including USA
Today, Associated Press, People and The Washington Post, Campbell went into the
recording of his sophomore project a lot more relaxed, particularly since he’d already
worked with Stegall on his previous set. But the singer still challenged himself to
basically “start over” on the second album, despite having already laid a great foundation
for his career. There’s still lots more he wants to accomplish.
“I’ve done some amazing things for a new artist,” says this Southern gentleman, “but I
can’t slow down. I’ve got to keep full steam ahead.”
It’s just a matter of respect.